We might well wonder what’s going on here? A guilt trip? A stewardship moment? This passage has been lifted out of a larger appeal or petition made by the apostle on behalf of another church in need. In some cultures where kinship values prevail, it is not unheard of for a family with more children than they can care for to “give” a child to a childless couple within that extended family, to raise for the sake of the wider family. It is an informal fostering system to be sure, but one that works on much the same principle upon which the apostle makes his appeal. It’s a way of redistributing the burden, sharing the load, bearing one another’s burdens. Whatever the language used, there is an attempt to be fair so that “the one who had much did not have too much, and the one who had little did not have too little.”
This system of just sharing is not one we warm up to in much of our North American culture. Many of us consider self-sufficiency a noble goal. We strive toward it in our educational endeavors and in our financial planning. Yet, in this passage we see another way, one that takes seriously the koinonia of Christian community, the socioeconomic principle upon which the early Christian church was built. As we think about how we respond to human need, what might it look like to share the load? When we pray for others in need, how prepared are we to be part of the answer to our prayer? As we pray for those standing in the need of prayer this week, how can we be open to the ways in which God might respond? How might we invite others to be part of the answer to our prayers?
For the healing of the nations, Lord, we pray with one accord (UMH, no. 428).
David is remembered in scripture as a mighty king but also as a great poet. Many of the Psalms are ascribed to him. In Second Samuel we find a song of lament over Saul and Jonathan. Saul was violently jealous of David, yet David still honored Saul as God’s anointed king. Jonathan was David’s best friend. David bemoans Israel’s loss of these leaders. The author of Psalm 130, although probably not David, appeals to God in David-like fashion. The Gospel shows the power of a woman’s faith. In Second Corinthians, Paul deals with practical matters, appealing to the Corinthians to send promised financial help to the believers in Jerusalem.
Read 2 Samuel 1:1, 17-27. What part does music play in your prayer life? Do you sing both songs of lament and songs of praise?
Read Psalm 130. When have you cried out to God from the depths of your despair? What was God’s response?
Read 2 Corinthians 8:7-15. How do you maintain your eagerness to practice your faith?
Read Mark 5:21-43. What has been your experience of God’s healing?
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