My name is Nathan

I have become a big fan of the Revised Common Lectionary.  Right now, the RCL is taking the church through the story of David.

Its way more interesting than what I remember from Sunday School.  The rise of an unknown shepherd boy to the most powerful political and military figure in the Hebrew Scriptures, ultimately horribly derailed by his own ambition (and sex drive).

We heard from Nathan in last week’s scripture reading.  Nathan is the prophetic voice to David’s ambitious political/military/religious agenda.  It is his role to make sure David keeps true to God’s vision of justice and mercy.   Unfortunately, though not unpredictable, David has let the powers of his Kingship get away from his conscious. The previous week’s scripture (the eighth week after Pentecost, Year B) had told the story of how David had met his mistress, Bathsheeba, and then had set up the death of her husband.

Nathan has to go to David and tell him that he is now on the wrong side of history; he has become just another greedy empire builder.

In church on Sunday, everybody put on name tags but instead of their own name, they put the name Nathan on their name tag.  What was it like to be Nathan?  To go tell the most powerful person in  the Hebrew Bible–the King who was supposed to be the good guy–that he has now jeopardized everything?

I like how the Africana worship book put it:

No one thought I’d do anything.
I was a “nobody.”
But when I learned what happened, I changed.
Something inside me roared—NOOOOOOOO!
I was brave, temporarily.
People said I must have been crazy to speak up.
True, but saying nothing seemed crazier.
I saw the suffering.
I heard the mourning.
I felt disgusted.
Everyday, Truth strolled the streets but no one dared to look.
People whispered . . .
Stood silent . . .
Shook heads . . .
But did nothing . . .
So, with God’s help, . . .
I grabbed Truth by the neck . . .
And dangled it before the king until he saw what broke God’s heart.

(Kwasi I. Kena, Ninth Sunday after Pentecost, Year B)

Not sure if its a copyright violation to post the whole poem, but this is some good stuff!


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