But much good spiritual insight comes from staying with the difficult parts of our Holy Scripture. Clergy are obligated to do so - we swear at ordination that we "believe the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be the Word of God, and to contain all things necessary to salvation."
So, what can we learn and apply from the bloody death of King Saul, the execution of a guy who claimed to have killed him, the gory murder of his heir, and the death and mutilation of the heir's assassins?
The whole mess moved me to prayer - to lift up a sad moan to God for The Episcopal Church.
- Saul had been trying to kill David. But when news of Saul's death came, David lifted up a song of mourning for the one who had persecuted him. The Episcopal Church (TEC) has inflicted all kinds of indignity and cruelty on those of us who accept the authority of the Bible. Like David, "a man after God's own heart," we need to mourn for TEC as it wastes away.
- David kept referring to Saul as "the LORD's anointed." However much Saul might have failed, he had received God's authority to be king (that's why David dealt harshly with those who claimed to have killed Saul and his heir). TEC's leaders were, at one time, anointed by God to preach the Word and minister the Sacraments. However much they have squandered that awesome gift, we need to mourn for them as their denomination crumbles.
What does prayerful mourning sound like? It can be groaning without words, a prayer supplied by the Holy Spirit.
Or, it can follow the example of Jesus, who mourned for those who rejected him:
Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! See, your house is left to you, desolate. (Matthew 23:36-38)
TEC has refused the gifts and talents of many wonderful Christians. Many of the clergy who leave TEC are those with gifts for evangelism and building up the church. Many of the departing lay people have given time, talent and treasure in sacrificial measure over the years. All would have brought more of God's living Word and the Holy Spirit to TEC, and TEC was not willing. And TEC is increasingly "desolate" - empty of blessings, of people, of meaning, of influence and impact in the world.
And this is not a situation for gloating or "Told ya so." It is time to mourn - to empty our hearts of grief, and look to God to fill them with hope and love for his good work to come.