This morning the lectionary readings take us into one of the lovely days when we find ourselves with a couple of passages which fit nicely on the sermonic scale pans and have the third as a wonderful summation of the whole thing.
On the 'naughty' scale we have the story of David and Bathsheba. The tale of a poor king who didn't go out to war but stayed at home and sexually exploited the wife of one of those who had (Uriah the Hittite). Then realising she was pregnant (so the battle had been going some time then) David panics and realises that the game is up unless he can con Uriah into thinking he's the dad; so he calls him back from the front on some pretext, gets him drunk and sends him home to the wife (booze, wife - dead cert' what's going to happen, thinks David).
But Uriah isn't like David because he thinks to himself, 'The guys are stagging on and I'm here - it'd be wrong the bonk the wife and enjoy home when they can't - I'll sleep in the doorway and be with them in spirit even if not in flesh!'
Thwarted, David gets Uriah killed on the battlefield - 'Job done', thinks he, 'I'm in the clear now!'
And that's where today comes in for God sends Nathan to tell him a little story about two men. One has loadsa sheep and the other is 'dirt poor' and has but a female lamb (which will bring him more later). The rich man takes the poor man's lamb and kills it.
Outraged David asks Nathan who and where the rich bloke is for he's going to get what he deserves and justice will be brought to bear for the poor man.
'Surprise,' says Nathan, 'You're the rich bloke and God has seen what and who you are and there's a price: On your family and on the child who will be born: Opposition and conflict for you and the child's going to die!'
Our second reading (on the 'good' scale pan) is the story of an honest and Simon, a good Pharisee (for they were once the good guys and some, in Jesus' time, still were), a woman of loose morals ('woman in the city' being a euphemism for something a little risque and costing [wink, wink]) and a couple of year's of wages worth of perfume.
Now before we get stuck in she is not Mary Madgalene as so many seem to think from the sermons I've heard over the years - but she is definitely a sinner. She comes in with what may well have been her earnings worth of perfume and gets down and dirty (loosing the hair is a precursor to bed!) to bathe his feet with a mixture of the stuff and her tears (shame? Repentance?).
Simon, knowing who she is and in righteous anger that this rabbi is being defiled bu something unclean like her, cuts up rough and so Jesus puts him straight.
She is doing what Simon should have for he was neither kissed or washed (as was the tradition for the honoured guests). Not only that, whilst water was cheap, she'd brought the very essence of herself and supplanted it with something costly! And then he explains:
Two men, one owed a tenner whilst the other owed a thousand. The creditor decided to cancel the debt. So, Jesus asks, 'Which one of the men will love the debt-cancelling bloke most?'
'Simples,' say Simon, 'The one who had the larger debt cancelled!'
'Spot on,' say Jesus, "And here she is!'
Turning to her He says, 'Go, your sins are forgiven (go and sin no more!)'
The third reading (which is the summation) tells us that Jew or Gentile (God's people or dogs) it's faith in the forgiveness of God as seen through Jesus (and His death on the cross) that does it all.
You can't pay to become clean and right with God,
You can't rely on birthright or position or the jobs you do in church,
You can't kill to make you look right with the world and right with God,
The only thing we have that works is faith in God and if we come, flawed, broken, realising our sin and repentant - faith in God will make us whole.
Worked for the woman - didn't it?
ps. Happy Father's Day