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Ninth Sunday of Trinity


Almighty God, who sent your Holy Spirit to be the life and light of your Church: open our hearts to the riches of your grace, that we may bring forth the fruit of the Spirit in love and joy and peace; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.


Gracious Father, revive your Church in our day, and make her holy, strong and faithful, for your glory’s sake in Jesus Christ our Lord.


Old Testament

In the spring of the year, the time when kings go out to battle, David sent Joab with his officers and all Israel with him; they ravaged the Ammonites, and besieged Rabbah. But David remained at Jerusalem.

It happened, late one afternoon, when David rose from his couch and was walking about on the roof of the king’s house, that he saw from the roof a woman bathing; the woman was very beautiful. David sent someone to inquire about the woman. It was reported, ‘This is Bathsheba daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite.’ So David sent messengers to fetch her, and she came to him, and he lay with her. (Now she was purifying herself after her period.) Then she returned to her house. The woman conceived; and she sent and told David, ‘I am pregnant.’

So David sent word to Joab, ‘Send me Uriah the Hittite.’ And Joab sent Uriah to David. When Uriah came to him, David asked how Joab and the people fared, and how the war was going. Then David said to Uriah, ‘Go down to your house, and wash your feet.’ Uriah went out of the king’s house, and there followed him a present from the king. But Uriah slept at the entrance of the king’s house with all the servants of his lord, and did not go down to his house. When they told David, ‘Uriah did not go down to his house’, David said to Uriah, ‘You have just come from a journey. Why did you not go down to your house?’ Uriah said to David, ‘The ark and Israel and Judah remain in booths; and my lord Joab and the servants of my lord are camping in the open field; shall I then go to my house, to eat and to drink, and to lie with my wife? As you live, and as your soul lives, I will not do such a thing.’ Then David said to Uriah, ‘Remain here today also, and tomorrow I will send you back.’ So Uriah remained in Jerusalem that day. On the next day, David invited him to eat and drink in his presence and made him drunk; and in the evening he went out to lie on his couch with the servants of his lord, but he did not go down to his house.

In the morning David wrote a letter to Joab, and sent it by the hand of Uriah. In the letter he wrote, ‘Set Uriah in the forefront of the hardest fighting, and then draw back from him, so that he may be struck down and die.’

2 Samuel 11:1–15


1  The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ •

   Corrupt are they, and abominable in their wickedness;

      there is no one that does good.

2  The Lord has looked down from heaven

      upon the children of earth, •

   to see if there is anyone who is wise

      and seeks after God.

3  But every one has turned back;

      all alike have become corrupt: •

   there is none that does good; no, not one.

4  Have they no knowledge, those evildoers, •

   who eat up my people as if they ate bread

      and do not call upon the Lord?

5  There shall they be in great fear; •

   for God is in the company of the righteous.

6  Though they would confound the counsel of the poor, •

   yet the Lord shall be their refuge.

7  O that Israel’s salvation would come out of Zion! •

   When the Lord restores the fortunes of his people,

      then will Jacob rejoice and Israel be glad.

Psalm 14


For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth takes its name. I pray that, according to the riches of his glory, he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love. I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, for ever and ever. Amen.

Ephesians 3:14–21


After this Jesus went to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, also called the Sea of Tiberias.  A large crowd kept following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing for the sick. Jesus went up the mountain and sat down there with his disciples. Now the Passover, the festival of the Jews, was near. When he looked up and saw a large crowd coming towards him, Jesus said to Philip, ‘Where are we to buy bread for these people to eat?’ He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he was going to do. Philip answered him, ‘Six months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little.’ One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him, ‘There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish. But what are they among so many people?’ Jesus said, ‘Make the people sit down.’ Now there was a great deal of grass in the place; so they sat down, about five thousand in all. Then Jesus took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated; so also the fish, as much as they wanted. When they were satisfied, he told his disciples, ‘Gather up the fragments left over, so that nothing may be lost.’ So they gathered them up, and from the fragments of the five barley loaves, left by those who had eaten, they filled twelve baskets. When the people saw the sign that he had done, they began to say, ‘This is indeed the prophet who is to come into the world.’

When Jesus realized that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain by himself.

When evening came, his disciples went down to the lake, got into a boat, and started across the lake to Capernaum. It was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them. The lake became rough because a strong wind was blowing. When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the lake and coming near the boat, and they were terrified. But he said to them, ‘It is I; do not be afraid.’ Then they wanted to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the land towards which they were going.

John 6:1–21

Sermon on Ninth Sunday of Trinity

There have been a number of television programmes about world leaders of late. Can you imagine any of those world leaders doing what Jesus did?

When Jesus realized that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain by himself.

It is obvious that our political leaders want to surround themselves and be surrounded by phalanxes of their supporters. But just who are those people who gather around them? Are they merely “yes–men”? Are they people who desire their own way? Or do they argue what is right and proper? Or would those leaders take themselves off to a high mountain to be by themselves? – I don’t know.

What is the dynamic between the leader and his coterie? That is a very important question to ask, let alone try to answer. Ir is also a question we have to ask of ourselves as we make our own ways in our own journeys – the walk we take with our friends and families. How do we expect them to behave toward us? How do they expect us to behave toward them? How does everyone behave toward each other?

Are they a crowd pressing me to one way of acting or another? Do they act as my conscience, forcing me to make up my own mind about the issue at hand?

I have been reading a novel about life in Minsk in World War II. It is a harrowing account of a man’s journey from an idealistic young man working for the police in a high status job to a murderous thug of the worst type, an SS man in charge of one of the many camps in Hitler’s final solution. The details of the novel don’t matter, but they sent me to my bookshelf to find a book by a Holocaust survivor – it is a psychological rendering of a man who had lived through the concentration camp.

These two books taken together make sense of each other. They describe how a person is desensitised to others and then to himself. That is the fundamental point of these authors, that one no longer is connected to anything but survival. The high moral values of the church and schoolroom no longer make any sense because no one plays a part in anyone else’s life. This leads to making poor choices toward others. Then when one loses interest in one’s own person as a human being because of the degrading treatment received, what hope can there be for anything? So why am I relating this to you this morning? – I think it is because of King David. He is the leader we all thing about when we imagine an ideal leader, but he has this dark side, doesn’t he? He becomes obsessed and then he dehumanises poor old Uriah. Uriah is of no interest to him except as a barrier to his pleasure – Uriah stands between David and Bathsheba. David has lost all consideration of the other person. He has wrapped himself up in his own desires. He feels nothing for Uriah, only for himself. That, I think, is the key to this story of David and the point of the novel I read.

There are more subtle points to be made in the psychology of this event, not least because this dehumanisation occurs not just in relation to others, but even to one’s own self. When that happens, my reading leads me to believe that the worst can happen. Again, this is the point of the story of David and the novel. They converge on the fact that when one has made objects of everything, no human or divine rules apply.

That has implications for society. We have considered the ill will of the crowd many times, so we need not consider that again. Let us just say that the crowd should never control us. But the novel points out how the crowd can control us. When we deal with other people merely as bags of bones, our choices are flawed. The most brutal treatment can arise because of it – and the crowd condones it, affirming our wretched behaviour as acceptable. How is that possible? How can the crowd do that?

It happens when we let the person, both self and other, fade to nothing. How can we act against that? It would seem impossible. First of all we have to admit that we can break away from the manipulating crowd. We have heard that the truth will make us free, but I think something else can do that as well.

I would like to suggest that faith frees us from all domination and provides us with  self-control. I believe that the only control of our own behaviour we should allow is self-control. What about that King of the Bible all remember? Sadly, no: David did not, he indulged himself. He did not let the truth and his faith in the jealous God to guide him.

Do our leaders show us self-control on this grand scale? Or do they behave like David? I will leave you to answer that for yourselves – as politics is not our object here. Rather we are here to meditate on how faith redeems human value.

I think we need to look at our leader, Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour. How does he help us understand out redemption?

What was Jesus doing when he took himself off to the high mountain? Wasn’t he showing the highest self-control a person can, when he removed himself from the crowd pressing around him, trying to point him in their direction, rather than letting him go on his own way? The way we know as the way of the cross. Jesus turns away from the crowd. He turns away from their demands, the calling for more and more miracles, the demand for instant gratification. They want him to be their king and he turns away. He had been doing great acts of power in the midst of them, when faith brought the miracle about. Because they were trying to be his control, he leaves. He only wants to control himself, not a Kingdom.

When Jesus realized that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain by himself.

I have been considering this “force” the crowd uses to control us for a while now, and how faith frees us for self control, the only control there should be. Faith frees us from everyone else, it frees us to be able to act for the other, not just ourselves. That is the point of that Holocaust survivor’s account. He shows that our dedication to that significant other, is what frees us from the degradation of extreme selfish behaviour that gives rise to the horrors of any kind of war. By positively lifting the other up in our estimation, we raise ourselves up. This faith saves us from the sinfulness of being fixated on something base: faith frees us for those two other great things in life, hope and love.




This sermon is from Stilman Davis. It is copyrighted. You are welcome to use it, but put some extra money in the plate if you do.

Sermons are spoken. They whistle in the wind and enter your ears to echo for some time between them. However, sermons are destined to go on into the distance after they have resonated with you.