St. Matthew's Episcopal Church Maple Glen, Pennsylvania


Readings and Reflections on the Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost


Numbers 11:4-6,10-16,24-29
Psalm 19:7-14
James 5:13-20
Mark 9:38-50

Dear Friends,

In the reading from Numbers, Moses is overwhelmed by the demands of the people and cries out to God.  In response, the Lord directs Moses to recruit seventy elders who will receive a share of the spirit that was put upon Moses so that they may assist him in leading the people.  Not everyone welcomes this shared leadership, but it is accepted and affirmed by Moses.

In Mark’s Gospel, the disciples of Jesus wish to stop a man who is exercising power in Jesus’ name, but Jesus affirms the work done in his name by this person.  This is followed by warnings against getting in the way of other people who trust Jesus, as well as anything that gets in our own way of trusting and following Christ.

The Letter of James reminds Christians to turn to prayer, praise, and confession of sin to care for themselves and one another.

Comment:  When Simon and Garfunkel sang the song “I am a rock, I am an island,” I am convinced this lyric was an ironic affirmation of the opposite: we really aren’t intended to make it through life on our own. Moses needs to share leadership or he’ll be crushed.  Jesus recruits disciples, and affirms people who aren’t in the “inner disciple circle” who are doing work in his name. James points out that we need to turn to God and seek help from one another to stay well.  That sounds great, except that people are difficult. Some people who “want to help” don’t understand their own hidden agendas that are in reality about meeting their own needs.  Still, we need the help of others.  The key for me has been to take responsibility for asking people, who I know I can trust, to pray for me and with me. It is important for me to ask such people for counsel, and talk things over with others.  But I’m very careful about who I ask!

David S. Robinson, Rector
Saint Matthew’s Episcopal Church
Maple Glen, PA 19002