Perishable and Imperishable Kingdoms

Scripture Focus: 1 Chronicles 12.17-18
17 David went out to meet them and said to them, “If you have come to me in peace to help me, I am ready for you to join me. But if you have come to betray me to my enemies when my hands are free from violence, may the God of our ancestors see it and judge you.” 
18 Then the Spirit came on Amasai, chief of the Thirty, and he said: 
“We are yours, David! 
We are with you, son of Jesse! 
Success, success to you, 
and success to those who help you, 
for your God will help you.” 

Reflection: Perishable and Imperishable Kingdoms
By John Tillman

Chronicles might seem like a book that looks back, longing for the “good old days,” but in reality it uses the past to think about the future.

David’s kingdom is idealized partly because one purpose of Chronicles is reminding people that a king “like David” is coming. Its readers had seen a Temple and a wall rebuilt, but not a kingdom. They wrestled with God’s promises of the past and past generations’ failures to fully realize those promises. Did God mean what he said about David’s kingdom having no end? Would God really bless the nations through them? When would this “Son of David” arise?

Chronicles gives a more thorough account of the slowly growing support for David after Saul’s reign. These men from many tribes transferred allegiance to a homeless, wandering king and a kingdom not fully realized. Many brought their entire families. 

Amasai is the chief of David’s elite fighting force. They are known more for feats of battle than prophecy. Yet, Amasai was also a Levite and God’s Spirit came on him to proclaim that he, and those with him, were for David. By God’s Spirit he prophesied success and peace.

Many times in my life I have idealized “Mighty Men” like Amasai, Joab, and the other “sons of Zeruiah.” There are good things we can draw from these men and their many brave actions. However, too much teaching in the church about these men invokes “spiritual warfare” in twisted ways that allow Christians to cloak political violence in spiritual language.

These men and their lifestyles are not ideals for the Christian life. Many who served David, such as Joab, relied on violence, shrewdness, and political assassinations. They shed their own country members’ blood in service of their own power and to cover up David’s sins.

There are kingdoms of this world, like Saul’s, that are passing away. These earthly kings, tribes, and parties demand our attention, our fealty, our loyalty. They ask us to shed others’ blood by endorsing, normalizing, or embracing violence. We might fight…except that, as Jesus said, our kingdom is from another place (John 18.36) and our battles are not against flesh and blood. (Ephesians 6.12)

Let us not be goaded by kings, like Saul, who may be destroyed by their own violence. By God’s Spirit, may we forsake perishing, worldly kingdoms and prophesy success and peace for the imperishable kingdom of Jesus.

Divine Hours Prayer: A Reading
Then the angel showed me the river of life, rising from the throne of God and of the Lamb and flowing crystal-clear. Down the middle of the city street, on either bank of the river were the trees of life, which bear twelve crops of fruit in a year, one in each month, and the leaves of which are cure for the nations. The curse of destruction will be abolished. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city; his servants will worship him, they will see him face to face, and his name will be written on their foreheads. And night will be abolished; they will not need lamplight or sunlight, because the Lord God will be shining on them. They will reign forever and ever. — Revelation 22.1-5

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Autumn and Wintertime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings
1 Chronicles 11-12 (Listen – 11:59)
Hebrews 13 (Listen – 3:31)

Read more about The Superior Bravery of Tenderness
Bad spiritual takeaways from these “Mighty Men” passages “baptize” men’s sinful, violent tendencies as honorable spiritual qualities.

Read more about Not So Random Acts of Kindness
Jesus is a greater king than David, never failing to minister to those in need. He did more than honor the outcast, he cured their disease.

Hours of Prayer

From John: 
Read the Bible. Reflect and pray. 

That is the two-pronged, ultra-simplified vision that we have for our readers. This past week we have taken some time to curate and comment on some classic readings about prayer to strengthen and encourage us in the practice of prayer. Tomorrow we return to following the reading plan with a series on the book of James by Jon Polk.

“Praying the hours,” which is also called “fixed-hour prayer,” “daily office,” or “the divine hours” is an ancient practice of prayer in which psalms, other scriptures, and written prayers are prayed according to a set schedule throughout the day at assigned times. It has been continually practiced by faithful Christians for thousands of years.

Reflection: Hours of Prayer
By John Tillman

I grew up in a faith tradition that eschewed “rote” prayer for “spontaneous” prayer. When I discovered the freedom, emotional connection, and expression that was possible in fixed-hour prayer, it was a revelation and a revolution in my spiritual practice. Ruth Haley Barton writes from similar experience in her essay, Sweet Hours of Prayer.

“I was convinced that spontaneous prayers were the only real prayers because they came from the heart; only people who were not very spiritual and did not have much to say to God needed to rely on prayers that were written by someone else!”

In so-called “spontaneous” prayer times of my youth, our leaders and I often fell back on familiar patterns and idiosyncrasies. We knew that deacon so-and-so was going to incessantly repeat, “DearLard,” in a pattern so familiar when it was our turn to pray we inadvertently mimicked him. These repetitions became just as “rote” as reading prayers thousands of years old but less polished and beautiful.

Of course, every prayer, well worded or not, is beautiful and may be heard with joy by our Father, but Barton continues:

“No matter how alone we might feel on any given day, fixed-hour prayer gives all of us a way to pray with the Church even when we are not in a church…This way of praying affirms that we are not alone, that we are part of a much larger reality—the communion of saints that came before us, those who are alive on the planet now, and all who will come after us. In a spiritual sense, praying with the Church through fixed-hour prayer expresses that deeper unity that transcends all our divisions—and that is no small thing.”

*Quotations from, Sweet Hours of Prayer by Ruth Haley Barton.

Another way to pray with us as a community is through our private Facebook group for subscribers to The Park Forum. Its primary purpose is for us to pray and connect as a community. Join us there if you have not yet and leave us a prayer request to pray for you.

You can also pray in community with us by following our prayer feed on the Echo prayer app.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Call to Prayer
“Come now, let us reason together,” says the Lord.—Isaiah 1:18

Today’s Readings
1 Chr 11-12 (Listen -11:59)
Hebrews 13  (Listen -3:31)

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Read more about Called to Prayer :: The Angelus
It is not the bell that unites them—it is the spiritual bond of prayer.

Read more about The Cultivating Life
Praying is like watering the soil of your heart so that it doesn’t become hard and dusty and so that the things God plants there can grow.