From the Daily Office Lectionary for Wednesday in the week of Proper 11, Yr 1 (Pentecost 8, 2015)
1 Samuel 25:29 [Abigail said to David,] “If anyone should rise up to pursue you and to seek your life, the life of my lord shall be bound in the bundle of the living under the care of the Lord your God; but the lives of your enemies he shall sling out as from the hollow of a sling.”
Several years ago there was a television show called Northern Exposure which was a favorite of mine. At the time it was in first run episodes, I was living apart from my family while attending seminary, living in a student dormitory. One of my dormitory neighbors owned a big screen color television and paid the fee for cable feed, so when Northern Exposure came on several of us would pile into her room, drinks and snacks in hand, for an hour (or more) of pure escape, wonderful camaraderie, fun, and games; we had a party there each of those show nights. When I read the words “bound in the bundle of the living,” when I think of church community, those evenings in my colleague’s dorm room are one of the predominant images. There was life and love, friendship and folly, sustenance and support, all bound and bundled together. ~ In an episode of the show that ran after I’d left the seminary community, a show entitled Burning Down the House, the local morning radio celebrity Chris builds a trebuchet with the intent of flinging a living cow across the town’s lake. Disappointed to learn that the Monty Python crew had already catapulted a cow in their movie Monty Python & the Holy Grail, Chris settles on flinging an upright piano instead (I’m told it was a Mason & Hamlin cabinet grand). That’s an image that comes to mind when I read of David’s enemies being “slung out as from the hollow of a sling.” I see that old piano flying through the cold air, losing some of its pieces as it goes, finally crashing in utter destruction. ~ Two images: the warmth of friends gathered in sustaining community for an evening of fun vs. the cold loneliness of being thrown to complete ruin. I’m amused (and I find it instructive) that both can be described with the same word. Fling, noun, a party, a dance, a shindig. Fling, verb, transitive, to throw, especially with force or abandon; hurl or toss. ~ At the end of the episode, as Chris prepares to cut the tension line on the trebuchet and fling the piano, he says, “It’s not the thing you fling. It’s the fling itself.” Abigail’s reassurance to David reminds us that it’s also the nature of the fling and the One who flings; we choose which fling we will experience at God’s hand.