In David's lament over the deaths of Saul and Jonathon, the victor extols his mortal foes whose relationship he also cherished. It is riven with conflicted emotions, and while it served a strategic purpose going forward, it was clearly a heartfelt tribute. Both David and Saul had been outcasts; David outcast by Saul, and Saul outcast by God. David's paean to the 'mighty fallen' is the gracious act of reconciling that lies at the heart of God and the Kingdom in regard to outcasts.
In another "sandwich" story in Mark 5, we see some deliberately stark contrasts between the acceptable and unacceptable, the respectable and the outcast. Further inexplicit connections clearly exist between the characters that unify the two stories into a common endeavor. The bottom line is the desire of Jesus to graciously restore the promise of life to those who have been afflicted and outcast. The witnesses to the Kingdom are meant to embrace, welcome and uphold even those whom society has denied, cast out, and regarded as abhorrent.
This judging of folks is often carried out by the religious institution. Jesus defied those authorities who claimed to speak of the judgment of God by proclaiming love and grace instead as the true reflection of divine will - the good news of new life. Religious institutions today are no different, usually leading the charge or validating the accusations and judgments of the greater society against all kinds of people. The religious institution needs to understand that it, too, can stand against the Kingdom, and often does, just as the Jewish authorities did in Jesus' day.
At Fairfield Presbyterian, we recently made it clear that not all are truly welcome. We need to keep thinking about that as we consider texts like these that reveal how God treasures outcasts.
Check out the full sermon either with the sermon video below, or with downloads available below the video panel.