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Prayer Ministry

If you have a prayer request, please send it to pastordelawareheadwatersparish@gmail.com.  We will be happy to add it to our prayers during Sunday service. If you have a request/need for private counseling or a time of prayer with Pastor Dawn or Pastor Peg about a personal matter,  please contact the office or either Pastor. 


Only the two most recent sermons from Pastor Peg are posted here.  She also posts her sermons weekly at pastorpeg.wordpress.com




David; God Working with Imperfection

September 24, 2023              17th Sunday of Pentecost

Psalm 51:1-10             2 Samuel 11:26-12:15


            Along with the story of David and Goliath, the story of Bathsheba, David, and Nathan is probably David’s most famous event in the Bible.  David, next to Moses and Jesus, has one of the most complete biographies.  From the moment we meet him as a teen-ager of about 15, we follow his life in great detail until he passes at the age of 70.  That’s 55 years of action; so why do we usually read THIS story about King David?

            Let’s go back a bit to the beginning of the monarchy of Israel.  For a few hundred years the eleven Hebrew tribes had settled in the land. The twelfth tribe of Levi were the hereditary priest and lived within the other tribal areas taking care of the religious needs of the people.  After God called Samuel to be his prophet, the people came to him and asked him to appoint a king for them, because they felt that by uniting under one leader they had a better chance of protecting themselves from surrounding tribes who wanted to control the land.  Why did everyone want this land?  Well, three major trading routes run through this territory: One goes north to south, and one comes in from the east, and they all connect in the land of Israel.  If you controlled the trade routes, you controlled the commerce of a large section of the Middle East.

            Samuel understands their problems, but God warns them that if they choose a monarchy, they’re starting down a slippery slope away from the more democratic structure of their laws and traditions.  God warns them through Samuel that a king might unite them during a time of war but that the people are giving up their power of self-determination.  Their sons and daughters will be bounded to the king as servants, soldiers and even slaves.  They will end up losing at least one tenth of their wealth to the government: And in that day you will cry out because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves.  But the people are insistent and God choses Saul to be king and has Samuel anoint him.

            Saul does alright at first but then he starts to disobey God’s commandments, so God tells Samuel to go out and secretly anoint a new king who he has chosen: Jesse’s eighth son, David, the great-grandson of Boaz and Ruth. 

            Shortly after David comes into his own when he slays Goliath with a stone, and Saul is so impressed with him that he keeps him in his household.  During the next few years David is a warrior under Saul, a guerilla fighter by himself, and eventually, when Saul dies, he becomes king.  At first, he was so in favor with Saul, that he became best friend to his son, Jonathan, and was married to his daughter Michel.  When he and Saul fall out, even though Saul put a bounty on David’s head, David didn’t betray his king or betray him to their enemies.  In fact, there were two times when David had Saul at his mercy and could have killed him, but he didn’t.  

            When David becomes king, he unites the tribes and conquers Jerusalem from the Jebusites.  Because the city is neutral territory the tribal leaders agree to make it their capital – kind of like what America did with Washington D.C.  David then brings the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem, and although he doesn’t build a temple (he’s told that his son will do that).  This was agreed upon because the Ark had been captured and harassed by some of the enemy tribes.  So, David created a safe and accessible space for everyone to worship their most sacred symbol.

            David then continues his victorious wars over the next few years with the surrounding tribes and solidifies the government.  When the wars are winding down God tells him that he will be the first of a great line of kings and that: Your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever.  David is also known as a great musician and his hymns of prayer and thanksgiving are being sung by the people.  It seems that everything is going really well: The country is finally established and at peace. Then David commits his dreadful act of hubris by falling into the lust and seduction of Bathsheba.  And this is a tipping away point for David. 

            Remember the warning that God had for the Hebrews about a king?  This is what He was talking about.  Power is in many ways like alcohol; it can be an intoxicating drink that makes people lose their perspective of what is important and what it not, and people start to think that they have the ability to do whatever they want, because: Hey, I’m all powerful and I’m the one in charge of everything so I can do what I want without consequences!  

            Some commentaries try to put the blame on Bathsheba by saying: Well, Bathsheba shouldn’t have been bathing on the roof – she must have really wanted to entice David and get him to notice her.  This ignores the fact that roofs in the middle-east are actually very well used rooms of the house.  They are used as bedrooms, dining rooms, places to hang laundry, and places to bathe.  It is typical in this housing configuration to be aware of your neighbors that are close to you, and I am sure that David, hanging out on his own roof, probably caught a brief glimpse of Bathsheba, during her bathing time.   The correct and polite procedure would have been for David to avert his eyes or retire from his own roof.  But he doesn’t do that – he stays to watch, and David takes a step down a path of actions that lead to greater and greater sin. 

            So far this is a minor indiscretion/sin; he knows – Bathsheba doesn’t.  But then David starts to break the Ten Commandments.  

First, he coverts his neighbor’s wife.  Now at some time or another we are all envious of something other people have that we don’t.  I knew someone in Connecticut who had the most marvelous kitchen that was to die for.  I am still envious of that kitchen; I would like to have that kitchen, but it was not my kitchen.  And I put aside my feelings of wanting that kitchen by reminding myself that I am blessed with the perfectly functional and very nice kitchen that I do have.  At this point David should have counted his blessings.  We know that he already had six wives and 10 concubines, several of which are mentioned in the Bible as being beloved by him.  If he had focused on what he had, instead of believing that he was entitled to more, he wouldn’t have taken the next step.

            Which was to commit adultery.  David had all the power and Bathsheba had none, so David has become an oppressive seducer of his most loyal general’s wife.  But the consequence is that Bathsheba becomes pregnant.  Then he compounds the sin by having Uriah sent into danger so that he will be killed.  David has committed covetousness, adultery with coercion bordering on rape which has led to a pregnancy, and murder to cover up the other crimes.  But most importantly he has not put God first in his mind, heart and being.     

            He also thinks that he’s above God’s judgment.  But Nathan, Samuel’s successor, lets him know that God has seen all.  And since David has committed all these sinful acts, he is going to lose his first child by Bathsheba.  I know you probably think that’s terrible because the child is innocent, but that’s the problem with sin – innocent people get hurt.   David won’t be able to live out his reign in peace – he will be constantly at war, not only with the neighboring tribes, but with members of his own family.

            You see his example of sinful action is going to affect his kids.  His eldest son, Amnon, will end up raping his half-sister, Tamar, and then will refuse to marry her.  When David does nothing to punish Amnon, Tamar’s brother, Absalom, will assassinate Amnon, declare war on his father, drive him from Jerusalem and then publicly rape David’s concubines.  David will recover his throne but at the cost of Absalom’s life.  This is an example of the idea of sin perpetuating itself on multiple generations.

            And yet, David is held as being the ideal king.  Why?  Well, it’s because even when his ego gets the best of him and he falls into sin, he still tries to repent and do better.  When you read David’s life it feels like he lurches from being a good person to being a bad person, or at least a person with horrible judgement.  But still, God sees into his heart, and sees a person who is really trying to do his best.  David is human, full of ego and hubris.  Willing to love God and working on good intentions, but also getting caught up in life and forgetting God.  Willing to praise and appreciate all of God’s gifts, but the next day going off and doing his own thing.  

            But aren’t we the same?  How many of us lurch back and forth between believing that we are the center of the world, and then feeling connected with God?  Most of us aren’t going to mess-up on the scale of David – but then again most of us don’t have as much power as David did.  The greater the power the greater ability to sin.  David is a cautionary tale for all of us because it is when he forgets that God is in his life, that he abuses his power and falls from Grace.   

            And yet – God forgave David and made use of this imperfect person, to build a nation of Israel that became the keeper of a faith that endures to this day, and gave us our faith.  And if you read the Bible, you see that David does take his lumps and his lessons and tries to be a better person.  God knows that He’s working with imperfect people; we are all trying to move toward God, and we often lose our way.  But still, God forgives us and uses all of us to create something that endures.  

            So perhaps the great lesson of David is to learn to forgive ourselves as God and Jesus forgive us.  And when we lurch away, to know that God will allow us to work our way back to him.  And that, no matter how much we mess up, if we truly repent, then God will keep trying and working with us to continue build something of His kingdom of faith here on the earth.







Huldah: Keeper of the Faith

October 1, 2023         World Communion Sunday

2 Chronicles: 34:19-28           Matthew 5:17-20

Huldah is one of those Bible characters you never learn about as a kid or read about in the common lectionary.  I stumbled upon her when my Old Testament class spent a week studying women of the Bible.  And she wasn’t mentioned in the class; I came across her when I was perusing the unassigned sections of the book that I was required to read. Huldah’s story appears in 2nd Kings and 2nd Chronicles, so scholastically we can assume that she existed, and that this incident did take place.

Her story interests me because you have a bunch of government officials who find a book of scripture, and who do they go to for verification?  A woman.  I mean who was this person who knew so much that five – count ‘em – five court officials visit her and considered her to be an expert in scripture? 

The King at the time was Josiah, king of Judah, the southern country of the Hebrews.  He became king at the age of eight, after the assassination of his father, King Amon, and reigned for thirty-one years, from about 641 to 609 BCE.  By this time the northern country of Israel had been conquered by the Assyrians in 715 BCE, but the southern country, Judah was still going strong and would survive until the Babylonian conquest in 586 BCE.  

Next to David, Josiah is considered to be the greatest King of Judah.  In his 31 years he carried out the most extensive religious reforms Judah had ever seen.  When he became 20, he started to remove and destroy the altars, idols, and symbols of pagan worship within the Temple of Jerusalem and other pagan centers of worship in the country.  Then when he was 26, he started to renovate the Temple of Jerusalem.  While it was being renovated a book of the Law was discovered in a secret hiding place.  The agreement among scholars is that it was either a Torah or the book of Deuteronomy.  Either of those would make sense because Deuteronomy is actually the first four books of the Torah condensed into one book.   

            Now you might say – wait a minute.  This is the Temple of Jerusalem.  For them to not have a Torah or any Book of the Law is like saying that the Vatican is missing all their Bibles.  True.  But Judah had undergone immense religious and political instability and some of the former kings had actually attempted to turn the Temple into a place where Baal and Canaanite gods were worshiped, so it is quite possible that many of the Hebrew religious books were destroyed.  Also, during the siege of Jerusalem by the Assyrians (who withdrew because of a horrible plague) many books were probably hidden for safe keeping.

            A lot of knowledge had been lost, and suddenly this document is found.  Josiah wanted to do the right thing and restore the ancient practices of worship, but he has been presented with a document that no-one is sure if it is a true piece of scripture.  So, who is he going to turn to for verification?  

            Well, you need to go to someone who hasn’t been corrupted politically, and who would understand the will of God.  That would be a prophet or a scholar of the law.  Now at the time the powerful prophet was Jeremiah, and he was well known for being brutally honest to the king and court.  Why didn’t they go to Jeremiah, why did they go to Huldah? The Rabbinic tradition states that the king went to her, and not Jeremiah, because he thought that women were more easily stirred to pity than men, and that therefore the prophetess would be more likely than Jeremiah to intercede with God in his behalf.   

            Interestingly: Huldah was a relative of Jeremiah because they were both descendants of Rahab.  Many scholars believe that while Jeremiah preached and taught men, she preached and taught women.  Not only was Huldah a prophetess, but she also taught oral doctrine, or recitation, in a scribal school that her husband managed.  Scribal schools were private schools run by families in private homes and, since Jeremiah was Huldah’s relative, her school could even have been the same scribal school that Jeremiah attended in his youth.  There is also an indication in the scriptures that Huldah’s husband was one of Josiah’s teachers when he was young, but I’m sure that Huldah could also have been a teacher for the really young kids to get them started on their Jewish ABC’s.  I’d like to believe that Huldah might also have been one of Josiah’s teachers.  If so, she would be someone he could trust with this verification. 

            Now let me run down the list of those five court officials.  Hilkiah was the High Priest who found the lost copy of the Book.  Ahikam was the son of the royal court secretary, a general official, and eventually the father of the governor of Judah.  Achbor is one of Josiah’s military officers.  Shaphan was a court secretary, and Asaiah was Josiah’s personal secretary.  These are movers and shakers and no doubt the king’s most trusted counselors.  So, they bring the scroll to Huldah, and she reads it over and then (And this is why I think that Josiah was one of her students at one time) she uses very unceremonious language.  She says to them, "Tell the man that sent you to me."   Josiah, for her, was just a past student and she knew that for God, he was like any other man.  

            Now despite the supposed hopes that Huldah would pull her punches she doesn’t.  She basically says, “You know, your ancestors did some bad stuff.  They set some things into motion that is just going to get played out.  But you tell the King that since he’s doing the right thing by God, this is not going to fall on him.”  (And it’s another 4 kings and 28 years AFTER Josiah dies that Judah is invaded by the Babylonians.)  Huldah then confirms that the scrolls are authentic.  They are then read out to the population, and from their instructions the Temple is cleansed and restored to its proper use and the Festival of Passover is reinstated.  Plus, Josiah revamped the laws of the government to conform to the more ancient, and more democratic, laws of the Torah.  

            But, Huldah is put to the side as an interesting person who confirmed the book of the law, and the government got on with their work, the Jewish faith was renewed and people lived happily ever after, until they didn’t because of the darned Babylonian invasion, which wiped out the country of Judah.  

            But stop and think for a minute.  If Huldah hadn’t verified at that point in time that this was actually the Book or Books of Law that were the foundation of the Jewish faith, where do you think the Jewish faith would have ended up?  If she hadn’t given warning to those important people of the calamity to come, what would have happened to the Jewish faith tradition?  Those books became so important that a scribal tradition was created to copy those books so that the law would never be lost again.  And that tradition of copying and memorizing the books developed into written records that were kept and guarded and taken into the Babylonian exile. And that tradition expanded during the exile to writing down all of the oral literature, not only the Torah, but also the prophets and histories; which over the next 300 years becomes the Old Testament.  That tradition of recording what has happened is the tradition that creates our New Testament.  I would say that all of our modern evangelism of using this Bible starts with Huldah.

            Think of that: one affirmation and confirmation of faith leads to you and everyone around the world being able to pick up a Bible and to learn about God’s story with humanity.   

            But even more: That affirmation allowed a people to reconstruct and renew their religion.  But that doesn’t mean that they went totally back to what they had done before.  They reinstated their worship, they confirmed their beliefs, but I don’t think their worship or the way the Temple worked was the same as it was during the reign of David and Solomon.  We don’t worship the same way our ancestors did 100, 1,000, or 2,000 years ago when we first started Christianity.    

            Huldah confirmed to the Hebrews their cornerstones of the Ten Commandments; their foundation of the laws so that these twelve tribes coming out of Egypt could live together; and their theology of one God who asks for a covenant relationship with each individual but also with a nation.  Jesus said: I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. Christ fulfilled the Covenant by giving us the means to access God’s forgiveness, mercy, and grace.  

Like Josiah and Huldah, we are in an era where our faith needs to be rediscovered and renewed for our time.   All over the world the relevance of our faith is being challenged.  But I don’t see that as a bad thing – I see that as an opportunity for us to really examine: What does our faith do for us and what can it do for other people?  And how do we express that in the context of ourselves, our families, our communities, and the world?  

Today we celebrate and acknowledge the world-wide phenomenon of all Christians celebrating communion with the same foundations that we have, but in their own unique way.  Fulfilling the renewal of souls, while they affirm their unique culture that their faith has built, which has been passed down to them by teachers of faith like Huldah.  Let all of us be ready to pass down our faith to those who are in need of it.  When we do that, we can be called Keepers of faith and builders of God’s kingdom.