Wednesday, June 13, 2012

You Can't Judge a Shrub by its Seed: Ordinary Time 11, Year B

This Week's Lectionary Texts:
1 Samuel 15:34-16:13 or Ezekiel 17:22-24
Psalm 20 or Psalm 92:1-4, 12-15
2 Corinthians 5:6-10 (11-13), 14-17
Mark 4:26-34

This Week's Reflection
Albert Bridge via Wikimedia Commons
I read a lot and over a year ago I made the leap to using an e-reader which I won't name for trademark reasons, but it rhymes with spindle. One thing I have found that I miss in using such a device - beyond the sheer joy of turning pages - is the book cover. I love the covers of books! The old adage is absolutely true that you can't (necessarily) judge a book by its cover, but I do anyway. Back in the days of yore when I would actually shop for books in a bookstore, I was overwhelmed with joy in simply walking the aisles and looking at the covers. (Boys and girls, a "book store" is like Amazon's book section, but with actual physical books that you could browse, touch, smell, feel, and determine whether or not you would buy it and take it home.)

When I read the lectionary passages for this week, one of the things that crossed my mind was that phrase, "You can't judge a book by its cover." In the 1 Samuel text, Samuel is sent out by God to name the new king after Saul had gotten on God's last nerve. So, he calls everyone together including Jesse and his sons. I get the impression that Jesse knew why they were there. Or, maybe there were rituals surrounding the sacrifice that I don't understand. Either way, Jesse presents his sons to Samuel one by one starting with the oldest and the one who seemed most "king-like." Whatever Jesse thought was going on that day, he didn't even bother to bring David with him. Someone had to look after the sheep and he was the most logical choice being the youngest, smallest, and least likely to be chosen for much of anything.
Shepard Fairey’s Trayvon Martin art commission for Ebony Magazine

Isn't it hilarious how God almost always turns things upside down? Of course, anyone who attended Sunday school even a handful of times knows that David was the choice for king and that his outward appearance had very little to do with his ability to do so when God called him to such a task.

Paul is just as clear in his writing to the folks in Corinth. In the same way that God told Samuel to not judge by what was on the outside, Paul very plainly states that as Christians, our primary focus is what is on the inside - our spiritual nature - rather than what is on the outside - our physical nature. This includes our bodies, but also other outward appearances like our cars, houses, clothes, etc.

Finally, Jesus himself brings the point home with that strange little tale about the smallest of small seeds. In other words, "You can't judge a shrub by its seed."