7/4: 2 Samuel 5:1-5, 9-10 and Psalm 48 • Ezekiel 2:1-5 and Psalm 123 • 2 Corinthians 12:2-10 • Mark 6:1-13
The 2 Samuel reading this week sums up some pretty big changes in a very few verses: David becomes the king; Jerusalem becomes the capitol. Apparently, David made the choice to move the capitol based on Jerusalem's reputation as a secure fortress. Perhaps the availability of water was also a factor. Basic requirements for living – safety and hydration – would be met there, to the benefit of all.
Maybe David's years as a shepherd had made him attentive to location. Where he had led the flock would make a difference in their chances for survival. Fresh water and an ability to spot predators early would have been on his mind, every day. Years of being relegated to the lowest job in his family brought him an automatic, kingly awareness: place would matter to the survival of his tribe.
The importance of place to human health has become increasingly clear. In the U.S., people who live in urban areas tend to be less obese. Why: their daily lives require them to walk more, drive less or not drive at all. On the other hand, less urban environments offer more natural surroundings, which have a calming effect on the entire body, enhancing both physical and mental health. These same effects also happen to cells and tissues within the body. Recent research on cancer, for example, is focused on changing the environment within the body where the cancer cells are thriving, rather than on the cancer itself. Where a cell is located, where a person is living, or where a family finds itself: at all these levels, place matters.
For David, attention to place was somewhat automatic. Concerned about the success of his people, he engaged in tribal warfare, driving out the Jebusites already living there (1Samuel 5:6-8). In the 21st century, humans continue their tribal warfare around the globe, with Jerusalem as a prime example. The alternative, considering what places will allow humans to flourish, and making those places available to all, seems far off. It begins, though, with a page from David's book: intention.
Awareness means little without intention. Turning an insight into action means everything. Figuring out what is actionable, though, is the challenge. Few of us are kings, with our own armies! Two extremes can emerge: a) a focus on trying to change others, to convince them of their wrongness or b) a distancing from others, to avoid airing different perspectives. The third way, that of finding one's own course of action, sharing it with others without trying to please or placate them, can bring one's own intentions to life.
And here, of course, we come to Jesus. In his hometown, just being himself, he is amazed at the unbelief he finds. Does he get caught up in trying to convince them that he's a healer? No. Does he distance from them, cut short his visit and storm away, perhaps calling them toxic as he leaves town? No. Completely disinterested in whether they approve of him or not, he is able to marvel, to wonder, at their incapacity to see what others could see in him. Emotionally mature, he is able to stand his own ground, wherever he is.
A horrific tragedy of place has occurred this week, with the collapse of a condo building near Miami Beach. May all who died there, rest in peace. For the rest of us, the human need for safety in our environments brings a lot to think about and more to do. A tad of emotional maturity would be a good first step.
Morning: What are my intentions today?
Evening: When did I manage emotional maturity today? What helps?
Psalm 48:-2 Great is the LORD and greatly to be praised in the city of our God. His holy mountain, beautiful in elevation, is the joy of all the earth, Mount Zion, in the far north, the city of the great King.