In the Lectionary

July 11, Ordinary 15B (2 Samuel 6:1-5, 12b-19)

The gap in the lectionary’s account of the return of the Ark of the Covenant echoes a pattern we have seen too often in our country.

In Gabriel García Márquez’s novel One Hundred Years of Solitude, José Arcadio Segundo is the only survivor of a massacre. When soldiers open fire on a demonstration, he is hit and loses consciousness. He awakes on a train, packed among thousands of bodies bound for clandestine burial at sea. He jumps off and begins the long walk home, stopping when he reaches a house just outside his town, where a woman tends his wound and washes his bloodied clothes.

When Arcadio Segundo says what he has witnessed, she refuses to believe him: “‘There haven’t been any dead here,’ she said. ‘Since the time of your uncle, the colonel, nothing has happened in Macondo.’” His own brother does not believe him either, and anyone who does speak of the events tells an entirely different story: “There were no dead, the satisfied workers had gone back to their families, and the banana company was suspending all activity until the rains stopped.”

There is a hole in the story of King David moving the Ark of the Covenant into his new capital. It’s possible to glide right over it, if one doesn’t pay attention to the verse numbers in the assigned reading. But once you know there’s something uncomfortable hiding in the gap, there is a distinct “before” and “after” quality to the reading.