Episcopal Diocese of Minnesota

Environmental Stewardship Commission (MEESC) Lectionary Reflection Year C, Seventh Sunday of Easter, Old Testament Lesson

1 Samuel 12:19-24

After Saul had been made King, the people greatly feared the Lord, and all the people said to Samuel, "Pray to the LORD your God for your servants, so that we may not die; for we have added to all our sins the evil of demanding a king for ourselves." And Samuel said to the people, "Do not be afraid; you have done all this evil, yet do not turn aside from following the LORD, but serve the LORD with all your heart; and do not turn aside after useless things that cannot profit or save, for they are useless. For the LORD will not cast away his people, for his great name's sake, because it has pleased the LORD to make you a people for himself. Moreover as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD by ceasing to pray for you; and I will instruct you in the good and the right way. Only fear the LORD, and serve him faithfully with all your heart; for consider what great things he has done for you.

Reflection on 1 Samuel 12:19-24 by John G. Gibbs, PhD

In a time of economic recession, with its "poverty effects" (opposite of "wealth effect") and its threats to our very livelihoods, we do well to heed Samuel's responses to people who were anxious about "all our sins." "Do not be afraid, do not turn aside from following the Lord, and do not turn aside after useless things" are the negative responses.

The constructive positive responses are these: "but serve the Lord with all your heart, only worship the Lord, and serve him faithfully, consider what great things he has done for you."

In between these negative and positive responses stands the most essential reminder that says in effect: "Remember your identity. Know Whose you are." "For the Lord will not cast away his people.; because it has pleased the Lord to make you a people for himself." It is by our identity (God's People) that we develop single-minded purpose on the one hand not to swerve from the course that is set before us, and on the other hand to serve the Lord with our whole being.

It may be that no historic moment is exactly the same as another. But there is enough continuity within history for us to learn from the past. In our own very different situation from that of Samuel's people we also ponder what it means to "serve the Lord with all your heart," and we also recall what great things God has done for us.

God gave humanity a place of special responsibility, for instance, within the whole creation, and now in the atomic age we have power either to destroy much of creation or to tend it and protect it for ages to come. The identity of God's People will surely turn aside from the former, and single-mindedly pursue the latter.

To Reflections on the other readings for this day:
First Lesson 1 Samuel 12:19-24 or Acts 16:16-34
this page
Psalm 68 or 47
New Testament Acts 16:16-34 or Revelation 22: 12-14, 16-17, 20
Gospel John 17: 20-26

John Gibbs, a retired theologian, attends Trinity Episcopal Church, Park Rapids, MN. He originally wrote this reflection in 2001. John and we welcome your comments. Please address your comments or additional reflections to John Gibbs or any MEESC member, or mail them to:
MEESC Holy Trinity Church Box 65 Elk River, MN 55330-0065 USA

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This page last updated 01-03-25.