As a young minister in my early 20s, I was often admonished by the senior ministers to keep a guarded distance from laypeople. To get too close, they would say, is to become too familiar with a resulting loss of one's ministerial authority. They thought authority was protected by distance and diminished by relationships.
There is at present a stream of good and interesting books on the Hebrew Bible’s King David, written by first-rate scholars. These books variously address historical and sociological questions concerning the rise of the monarchy in ancient Israel, but they tend to find most interesting the artistic offer of the narrative presentation.
Once I finished working with this week’s gospel text, I went back into my files to see how many times I’ve managed to preach on it in my seven circuits through the lectionary. I found that I’ve missed it more often than not—no surprise there, as it falls at a convenient time of year for that. And when I have preached on it, the sermon has always been on one half of the text or the other—either on the scene in the Nazareth synagogue or on the sending of the disciples. I have never written a sermon that dealt with both stories.