All Saints Episcopal Church in Chicago

Lust, Sex, Murder and Forgiveness

II Samuel 11 & 12
Bonnie A. Perry
June 16, 2013

Come Holy Spirit and fill our hearts with the transforming power of your presence, in your Holy Name we pray. Amen.

Good Morning.

Lust, sex, deceit, drunkenness, adultery and murder: it's a wonder more people don't read the Bible. But I have to say the people who we are hearing about in this reading they are not folks with whom I want to spend a lot of time. I don't like how this story begins, where it goes or how it ends. Mostly because I understand how it starts.

We are a fragile, broken lot. Oh true, we have moments of brilliance, love, compassion, honesty, clarity and forthrightness, but we also have the capacity the capability to...Oh we can be such a sodden, broken lot. At least that's how I feel about myself some days, some weeks. I look at myself and I say, "Really—really Bonnie—you thought that was a good idea?" "You thought that was a helpful thing to say?" Or I take a look around and wonder: We are the ones God is depending upon? Really?

The Story--it's the midpoint—if you will—1000 years after Abraham and about 1000 years before Jesus—give or take. The Israelites are in the promised land. The problem with the promised land is that there are other people in it. So the Israelites are figuring out how to exist. As a result wars, campaigns and battles are commonplace.

David, a leader, chosen for the role as a child from the beginning he cuts an impressive swath in the world. He comes on to the scene after Saul, the very first king of Israel, pretty much makes a hash of things. David, is the youngest of 8 sons. A boy, as a shepherd he is chosen and anointed by Samuel. After being chosen he patiently waits to embody his call.

Saul is a melancholic sort he hears of David's talents as a musician and poet and asks him to court to play his music and soothe his soul. When David next appears we see him rising to the challenge issued by Goliath. We know how that story goes—adolescent boy versus giant warrior. Giant warrior felled by one well-placed stone in a shepherd's sling-shot.

Fast-forward thirty years. With lots and lots of intrigue, betrayals and partnerships in between (including David's lovely friendship with Jonathan but that's a different sermon.) Now we have David, the unquestioned, wildly beloved King of Israel. A man who has made Jerusalem something of a holy place. A man who has transformed the Israelites from a loose confederation of nomadic tribes to a settled people with a government, a civil service, a judiciary and an urbane, sophisticated upper class.

David is the man. He is, as biblical scholar Washington Jarvis says, "A restless middle aged man—who has it all—and finds himself bored in his success." So as David's troops are fighting on the borders, he is wandering around his rooftop garden surveying the city. When he sees a flash in the sun that catches his attention. Turns out the flash, was the splash of the water of the tub in which Bathsheba was bathing. Cleansing herself after her monthly menstrual cycle. David sees. David looks. David wants. David's the king. David is the king, David gets.

He makes inquiries—who is she? Oh—Bathsheba—Uriah the Hittites wife. Hmmm, lovely. A servant replies, Uriah, your faithful servant, decorated officer who is even now is fighting for Israel. David sends for her. Sleeps with her. And a sentence later in the only words we hear from Bathsheba in this entire section, we find out she is now pregnant. David is the father, that much is perfectly clear.

What does he do? He's got a problem. He summons Uriah back from the battlefield under the guise of giving David a report on how the campaign is progressing. Uriah fills him in. David says, "Thank you. Thank you. You must be tired. Go on home. See your wife. Wash your feet (biblical code for sleep with your wife.)

David rests easy. He sleeps well for the first time in weeks. Problem seen, problem solved. Except when David awakes that morning, what does he see but Uriah, his faithful servant, still looking like he just came in from the battlefield, sleeping at the front gate with the servants.

David, "What are you doing here? You didn't go home?"
Proudly replies Uriah, "Israel and Judah are living under tents, the ark is under canvas my comrades are all at battle. How could I go home? Eat and drink and have sex with my wife?"

David is flummoxed. So then he says stay another day. David then proceeds to feed Uriah and get him drunk. And then he sends Uriah home again. But Uriah, smashed out of his mind, is more devout, more pious than King David stone cold sober. Uriah leaves and again sleeps at the gate never crossing his own threshold.

The next morning David sends him back to the front, but with a sealed note to the commander. The note says, "Send Uriah to the front—where the fighting is fiercest—then pull back."

A few days later, words come, not surprisingly, Uriah has been killed.
Bathsheba keens and mourns for her lost husband.
Seven days pass, the mourning period is over. David sends for Bathsheba. He takes her and makes her another one of his wives.

That's where our story picks up today. Nathan the prophet comes in and tells David a story. It's a story about a rich man who has everything and a poor man who has very little, but one thing the poor man has is a ewe. A ewe who he raised like a child. Held her in his arms, fed her from his plate, loved her like a daughter. The rich man has a guest arrive—he doesn't want to be bothered slaughtering any of his own flocks to feed the guest—so he takes the ewe— the poor man's treasured one. Kills it, cooks it and feeds it to his guest.

David is horrified with the rich man's actions. Livid at the injustice, declares that the rich man has violated all that is good and right. The rich man should die, absent that he must restore to the poor man 7 times over. This is such a grievous offense. Wantonly taking what little the man had.

Nathan nods and calmly says, "You are that man."

God says this to you, "I called you. I anointed you. I gave you all of Israel and Judah—and would have given you more, but this was not enough for you?! You have killed Uriah the Hittite, you have despised me, and taken his wife and his life."

Time pauses, concentrates and then explodes like a dumping, devastating cement loaded wave crashing over David's head. David feels, David sees with complete and utter clarity what a thoroughly wretched human being he is.

You—You are that man. The pause although momentary is hours in his brain and pain—you are that man...

David says: (now truly naked before the Lord) David says. "I am. I am that wretched one I have sinned. I have sinned before the Lord.

Two things happen.
One: there will be consequences for his actions. The baby dies. Don't get me started on how this can happen. All I can say is when we sin, when we screw up, frequently other people in a variety of ways get hurt. That's why we call it sin.
God's gift to us of free will, well it is a gift with massive responsibility.

Two things happen: One when we sin frequently people are hurt.

Two: When we sin, if we realize our error, own our faults, our actions, and are truly sorry, and do all we can to make amends, God forgives us. Other people may still be hurt, we may or may not be able to make adequate restitution, but God will and God does forgive us.

Nathan says, "Your sin is forgiven. God has put away your sin."

Really?? That's it? David says he's sorry and that's it? God forgives him? Really?? That's enough?? That's all he has to do-- adultery, murder, and God is moving on?

David's second son with Bathsheba—is Solomon—Solomon the wise one—Solomon who builds the temple—God moved on.

Here's the very very good news: Once we have named it, confessed it, owned it, God moves on from our sin, God moves on from our sin.

And so should we.

Thanks be to God.

Amen.

Copyright: Bonnie A. Perry June 2013

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Dear Friends,

Emily, Colin, vestry member Joe Wernette-Harnden, and I have all just finished a week of intense training at the College for Congregational Development. It was a real honor for me to do my second round of training at "the college" with colleagues from All Saints'.

What has become ever clearer for me, doing this training as a group, is that we have the people in place for All Saints' to take our next big step in our community and world. I'm not even sure what that step may be. What I do know, although we are not perfect, we are a faith community called to take significant actions to alter the condition of our world, even as we feed ourselves and our neighbors, body and soul. With our gifts, resources, leadership, and faith we have no other choice but to take part in and initiate movements of change and meaning. Our vestry (governing body) has been exploring these questions for the past several months, they'll be working on them even more in the month of August. I hope that we'll have some thoughts to guide a congregation-wide conversation in the fall. I'm thinking that congregational conversation may happen on Sunday, October 22. It's all very much in flux and formation now-but I wanted to let you know a bit of what I've been thinking about and what our vestry has been contemplating.

Tomorrow our former seminarian, current youth group leader, and Bishop Anderson house Chaplain, Paul Goodenough will be our preacher tomorrow. I've had a preview of his sermon and I found it wonderfully challenging and intriguing. Emily will be celebrating and Colin and some of our choir members will be creating wonderful music.

I'll be away tomorrow and for pretty much the remainder of the summer. I'll be doing some paddling trips in Canada and Scotland and spending some significant time in Virginia with my dad and siblings.

Please know how very much I enjoy being a priest at All Saints!

All the best,
Bonnie

We are very excited that the Rev. Dr. Kelly Brown Douglas will be spending a weekend with us this fall, September 23 and 24. Kelly was formerly the Canon Theologian at our National Cathedral. In the fall she will become the first Dean of the Episcopal Divinity School, now located at Union Theological Seminary. We've invited Kelly to spend the weekend with us so that we might again return to our work on confronting racism. Kelly is an amazing preacher and theologian and we are beyond honored that she is making time in her incredibly busy schedule to be with us. Look for more details in the next few weeks on the spirituality and theology that we will be exploring together. 

In the event that you find yourself looking for some interesting summer reading, here are some books she has suggested we investigate: HomecomingThe Color of Law, and one by Kelly called Stand Your Ground. She also suggested that watching 13th on Netflix would be helpful.
 
Racism is an issue that we are called to confront and challenge and end. It is not something that will just die a gentle death. Our hope is that with our time with Kelly and one another, we may again return to this important work. 

revelationsMonday nights at 7:30, Beginning July 10

Bible study is back! If the current U.S. presidency and administration is causing you to wonder if we're living in "apocalyptic times," then studying the Book of Revelation is perfect for this summer's Bible study! The Monday nights for this, from 7:30 to 9 p.m. (6 to 7:15 p.m. for dinner beforehand at O'Shaughnessy's), are July 10, 17, 24 and 31.

Your "tour guide" on this journey will be parishioner Jerome Wilczynski. Jerome holds a Master's degree in Systematic Theology and New Testament from Catholic Theological Union, and a Doctoral degree in Clinical Psychology from the Illinois School of Professional Psychology. He is Associate Professor/Core Faculty in the department of Counselor Education and Supervision at Argosy University, Chicago. The point of our study will be to de-mystify this all too often misunderstood text from Scripture. The main commentary Jerome will use to assist us in unearthing the rich symbolism of this book will be Wilfrid Harrington's Revelation from the Sacra Pagina series, in case you want to buy it—but don't feel you have to.

 

Summer Lineup Selected
 
The All Saints Book Club met on May 11th and decided on a lineup of books for the next year. The book club is open to anyone who enjoys reading. The meetings start at 7:30 PM usually at the home of a member. The locations and further details are on our Facebook page
 
Here is the schedule for the next several months:
  • July 13 -  "The Warmth of Other Suns" by Isabel Wilkerson
  • August 10 - "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" by John Berendt
  • September 14 - "Operation Breadbasket" by Martin Deppe
  • For additional information, contact Mike Burke (mebcat@gmail.com)

     

    Gardening at 10am
     
    churchschool2010
    For the rest of June and July - although Sunday school classes do not meet at 10 during the summer - Atrium I will continue to be open during the 9 o'clock service until the end of July. Atrium I children who attend the 11 o'clock service will be welcome in the nursery during the service.
     
    At 10 o'clock children are encouraged to come help water, weed and harvest vegetables from the garden we're planting to support the Ravenswood Community Services kitchen and food pantry

    We're running low on paper and reusable bags for our Tuesday night pantry. Please bring us your extras! 
     
    We will be taking donations on Tuesday evenings, M-F 9am-4pm, and on Sundays during church services. Look for the bins by the doors. Thanks for your help!

     Sundays at 2pm

    breakersbibleWe are very excited to announce that every Sunday at 2:00 pm, All Saints' offers something new at the Breakers - An Evening Prayer Service! Our first event was Sunday, December 4th, and went marvelously well - we had 13 attendees! Folks are very pleased that there's a Protestant service being offered in addition to the current choices (which are Catholic and Moody Bible.) The Prayer Service itself is printed in large print and in bulletin style with scripture taken each week from the Common Lectionary.

    The weekly service starts at 2:00 pm, upstairs on the second floor Meditation Room, and lasts about 15 minutes. Please contact Paul Mallatt if you have questions, or comments at 773-860-4649. When you can, stop by the Breakers (5333 N Sheridan Rd) where the parking is free (for 2 hours), the coffee is hot, and the folks are friendly!

     

    Tuesdays 6:15-8:00pm 

     

    RCS is looking for help serving and cleaning up after dinner on Tuesdays from 6:15-8:00pm.
     
    If you're able to volunteer, contact Emily or Operations Manager Parker Callahan, or call 773-769-0282.

     

    helloDo you feel called to create an open, welcoming, hospitable environment at All Saints? Do you like meeting and connecting with people? Join the new Hospitality Ministry! Members of the Hospitality Ministry will help the clergy and vestry create a welcoming culture by greeting new members, engaging new faces at coffee hour, and helping connect new members of All Saints with our various programs.

    Interested? Contact Diane Doran or Michelle Mayes. Include "Hospitality Ministry" in the subject line.

    Our new Associate Rector, Emily Williams Guffey, is enjoying getting to know everyone in our congregation. Help her put names and faces together by adding yourself to our online directory!

    If you are a member of All Saints' and haven't already registered for the directory, please contact our resident web guru Jim Crandall at website@allsaintschicago.org and he will send a user name, password, and instructions.

    Join the All Saints' Care Ministry! 

    casseroleThe Care Ministry at All Saints' is a quiet one, simply providing meals after a new baby arrives, after surgery, during an illness. Because when life gets complicated, dinner is often the last thing on our minds--but sometimes a meal and visit from a friend is exactly what we need!

    If you can provide a meal, give someone a ride, or run an errand once in awhile, please email care@allsaintschicago.org. You'll be contacted when a need arises and you can sign up to help at your convenience.

     

    tinaParishioner, Tina Tchen, accepts Bishop Maryann Budde's invitation to preach at the National Cathedral Sunday, May 8. Click here to see the video.

     

    Please consider supporting the restoration project of our historic building. To make a donation, click here

    1883 Construction web 

    This week’s stories of the bell tower: The beams and posts in the bell tower are being filled with epoxy and fungicide to prevent future insect damage and to restore their strength and integrity. Here are some photos of the work currently taking place. Everywhere you see white is where the post or beam is being rebuilt, restored and protected.
     
    The blue hue in the photo is from the tarp surrounding the bell tower enabling Ron Young and his crew to continue working in the dropping temperatures.
     
     

    Here is a collection of photos of the progress of our 1883 Project. Here is a collection of bell tower photos. Check back often for updates.


    Sunday Service Times

    8:00 am Inclusive Language Eucharist
    9:00 am Holy Eucharist with Choir
    10:00 am Children's Church School
    10:00 am Coffee Hour
    11:00 am Holy Eucharist with Choir

     

    Contact Us

    4550 N. Hermitage in Chicago, IL 60640 (Directions)

    Phone (773) 561-0111

    Email info@allsaintschicago.org 

    Information about pastoral care.

     

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    Bonnie on Huffington Post

    Occasionally Bonnie's sermons are published on the Huffington Post. Here are some links.

    Pain. Change. Hope.

    November 15, 2015

    What Does St. Francis of Assisi Have to Say to Us Today?

    October 4, 2015

    Wake Up Calls

    September 6, 2015

    Christmas Reminds Us That We, Like God, Are Human, Too

    December 24, 2014

    The Deep Sleep of Racial Oblivion: One Pastor's Sin of Omission

    November 30, 2014

    Pulpit Swap

    The Pulpit Swap between St Thomas and All Saints is part of our ongoing effort to bring our parishes closer together as we engage in a conversation about systemic racism and how we can work together to forge new possibilities and outcomes.

    Going Home—Changed

    Pulpit Swap Sermon By The Rev Bonnie Perry of All Saints Episcopal Church on October 16, 2016.  

    When Prayers Go Unanswered

    Pulpit Swap Sermon By The Rev Dr Fulton L Porter celebrating at All Saints Episcopal Church on Oct16 2016.