Bob Cornner

Bob Cornner
Visting St. Andrew's Torrance

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Sunday Preparation: Hear, Read, Mark, Learn, and Inwardly Digest

I have often been asked for a helpful way of preparing for Sunday worship. I have found that the best preparation is to

follow the pattern set forth in the collect which was composed for the second Sunday in Advent in the first English Prayer Book of 1549:

Blessed Lord, who hast caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning; Grant that we may in such wise hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that by patience, and comfort of thy holy Word, we may embrace, and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which thou hast given us in our Saviour Jesus Christ. (Spelling and punctuation from the English Book of Common Prayer.)

Hearing means reading the text out loud; read means to read it silently and and slowly several times; mark means that you are free to underline, draw cartoons, or do whatever the text inspires you to do using a pen or pencil; learn means to allow some part of the text to stick with you for whatever reason and in such a way that you will remember it; and inwardly digest means that the text becomes a source of nurture for your soul.

I hope this process will assist you in some small way in preparing for Sunday's worship. I have included some things to consider as you make your way through the collect and readings.

God's Peace Today,


O God, from whom all good proceeds: Grant that by your inspiration we may think those things that are right, and by your merciful guiding may do them; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Today, consider what it means to believe that all good comes from God.

Today, consider what it means to be inspired to think those things that are right?

Today, consider what “merciful guiding” is.

FIRST READING 1 Samuel 8:4-20 & 11:14-15

All the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah, and said to him, “You are old and your sons do not follow in your ways; appoint for us, then, a king to govern us, like other nations.” But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, “Give us a king to govern us.”

Today, consider what motivated the elders of Israel to ask for a King?

Samuel prayed to the LORD, and the LORD said to Samuel, “Listen to the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them. Just as they have done to me, from the day I brought them up out of Egypt to this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so also they are doing to you. Now then, listen to their voice; only-- you shall solemnly warn them, and show them the ways of the king who shall reign over them.”

Today, consider that when Samuel prayed to God about the request for a king, God said that their request was not a rejection of Samuel, but of God.

So Samuel reported all the words of the LORD to the people who were asking him for a king. He said, “These will be the ways of the king who will reign over you: he will take your sons and appoint them to his chariots and to be his horsemen, and to run before his chariots; and he will appoint for himself commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and some to plow his ground and to reap his harvest, and to make his implements of war and the equipment of his chariots. He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive orchards and give them to his courtiers. He will take one-tenth of your grain and of your vineyards and give it to his officers and his courtiers. He will take your male and female slaves, and the best of your cattle and donkeys, and put them to his work. He will take one-tenth of your flocks, and you shall be his slaves. And in that day you will cry out because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves; but the LORD will not answer you in that day.”

Today, consider what Samuel reported from the Lord to the people of Israel concerning what it means to have a king and the many consequences of living as the Gentiles did.

But the people refused to listen to the voice of Samuel; they said, “No! but we are determined to have a king over us, so that we also may be like other nations, and that our king may govern us and go out before us and fight our battles.”

Today, consider why such negatives did not change the minds of the elders of Israel who apparently had power to make such a request.

Samuel said to the people, “Come, let us go to Gilgal and there renew the kingship.” So all the people went to Gilgal, and there they made Saul king before the LORD in Gilgal. There they sacrificed offerings of well-being before the LORD, and there Saul and all the Israelites rejoiced greatly.

Today, consider how this ending of the reading seems contrary to how opposed Samuel and God were to the institution of a king in Israel.

Psalm 130

Out of the depths have I called to you, O LORD; LORD, hear my voice; * let your ears consider well the voice of my supplication.

Today, consider the meaning of the words: “out of the depths.”

If you, LORD, were to note what is done amiss, * O Lord, who could stand?

Today, consider what the psalmist is saying about all human beings.

For there is forgiveness with you; * therefore you shall be feared.

Today, consider why forgiveness from God might create fear in those who are forgiven.

I wait for the LORD; my soul waits for him; * in his word is my hope.

Today, consider for whom you are waiting and what the source of your hope is.

My soul waits for the LORD, more than watchmen for the morning, * more than watchmen for the morning.

Today, consider what sort of watchfulness the soul practices and why the morning is the time when such watchfulness seems to happen.

O Israel, wait for the LORD, * for with the LORD there is mercy;

Today, consider what the source of mercy is in your life and why one must wait for the one who is responsible for that mercy.

With him there is plenteous redemption, * and he shall redeem Israel from all their sins.

Today, consider why redemption is considered plenteous by the psalmist. Also consider why such redemption is even needed.

All loving, forgiving, and faithful God, thank you for the mercies of life and the freedom that your love and mercy offer to us. May we also have such an awareness of your love that we may call out to you from the depths of life and death knowing that you are with us and for us. Amen.

Today, consider this final prayer we will offer at the end of Psalm 130 on Sunday and why it is worded as it is.

The Gospel Mark 3:20-35

The crowd came together again, so that Jesus and his disciples could not even eat.

Today, consider why crowds come together around celebrities in such a way as to make it hard for them to even eat. Was Jesus a celebrity? Why?

When his family heard it, they went out to restrain him, for people were saying, “He has gone out of his mind.”

Today, consider how Jesus’ family was impacted by the opinion of others that Jesus was crazy.

And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem said, “He has Beelzebul, and by the ruler of the demons he casts out demons.”

Today, consider the evidence the scribes might have used to conclude that Jesus was working for the “ruler of the demons” that he was casting out of people.

And he called them to him, and spoke to them in parables, “How can Satan cast out Satan?

Today, consider why what Jesus said to the scribes was a parable.
Today, consider what the meaning of the word Satan might be today.

If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but his end has come.

Today, consider the possibility that some kingdoms and houses depend upon division to keep them going.

But no one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his property without first tying up the strong man; then indeed the house can be plundered.

Today, consider who the strong man might be and who it is that is capable of tying up the strong man. Also, consider what is used to tie up the strong man.

“Truly I tell you, people will be forgiven for their sins and whatever blasphemies they utter;

Today, consider how wide spread this forgiveness spoken of by Jesus might be.

but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit can never have forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin” -- for they had said, “He has an unclean spirit.”

Today, consider what it means to blaspheme the Holy Spirit.

Then his mother and his brothers came; and standing outside, they sent to him and called him. A crowd was sitting around him; and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers and sisters are outside, asking for you.” And he replied, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” And looking at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”

Today, consider what Jesus might mean by defining his family as only those who do the will of God.