Thursday, March 31, 2011

Lent 4a - John 9:1-41

The Pharisees ask Jesus to name the sin responsible for the man’s blindness even though the way they see it the parents are to blame.  Bad things happen to people who do bad things and only a literal reading of Psalm 51, “Behold, I was sinner from my birth” could place the blame on a fetus sinning in utero. Jesus chooses the third way and blames God. I mean if we push the answer to its cynical conclusion the man’s blindness affords Jesus the opportunity to heal him so that God’s work might be revealed in him; though I bet the man would have preferred God gifted sight a little earlier in life. I’ll argue a less cynical and better way to see it is that Jesus rejects sin as cause and effect for the way world works. It is what it is. People are born blind and biology is to blame. And while the physical healing appears to be the place where “God’s works are revealed in him” it is in the transformation of the man who had endured years of condemning comments whispered within earshot that the real miracle of sight takes place. For the first time the question, “whose fault was it?” doesn’t matter and he sees sin for what it is. His own parents having endured the blame for his blindness all these years cannot give thanks for the miracle in front of their very eyes and abandon him for fear of losing even their back seat in the synagogue. The respectable rabbis revile him because the way he received his sight doesn’t fit their view of the world even though they know “If this man was not from God he could do nothing.” With nowhere else to go he finds the only one who will welcome him and seeing clearly for the first time, “Lord, I believe” is where God’s works are revealed in him.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Lent 4a - Ephesians 5:8-14

I don’t think we have to do much soul searching to find out what is pleasing to the Lord in the same way that we know full well the difference between the unfruitful works of darkness and living as children of light. The difficulty is in the doing. Paul himself writing to the Romans laments,”I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.” (Romans 7:18-19) Living as children of the light is not accomplished by our will but by the One whose light shines into the darkness of our soul exposing shameful thoughts, words and deeds. The freedom of life in the light begins by banishing the darkness where we hide from our true self – in the Lord you are light. Like waking from sleep living into our true identity as eternal creatures destined for the light of the eternal future is a moment by moment decision. The good news is God does not abandon us even though we hit the spiritual snooze alarm again and again but waiting patiently continues to call to us, “Sleeper awake!”

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Lent 4a - Psalm 23

Psalm 23
The comfort of Psalm 23 is found in “I shall not want” which is only true when one allows the Lord to be “my shepherd.” That is easier said than done for we are creatures driven by desire with a list of wants a mile long. Living with that list we are never satisfied and seeking greener grass on the other side of the fence we wander into valleys masquerading as pastures that promise everything and in the end deliver nothing. The good news is that even when we are overshadowed by the deaths we die every day in that dark place we are not alone and comfort is only a cry for help away. The Lord, who would make us lie down in green pastures of goodness and mercy, rescues us in the dark valleys of our own design so that when we finally surrender to the shepherd’s will our stilled souls are fully satisfied.  I shall not want because there is only one thing I need; the Lord as my shepherd.  

Monday, March 28, 2011

Lent 4a - 1 Samuel 16:1-13

1 Samuel 16:1-13
The Lord does not judge by outward appearance or the height of one’s stature even though Samuel feels compelled to tell us Jesse’s youngest son was ruddy and handsome and had beautiful eyes. Maybe his GQ good looks made David the shepherd prone to wander despite the desires of the heart only God could see. He doesn’t suffer Saul’s fate but handsome David, consumed by his passions, doesn’t get away scot free. The sword of conflict never leaves his house and he will have as many enemies within his own palace as without. So what is it that makes David a man after God’s own heart? Most will quote Psalm 51, his act of poetic contrition after Nathan nails him with a story of rich man who steals a poor man’s perfect lamb. “You are the man!” David, like so many of us, is capable of self deception on a grand scale until confronted by the truth there is nowhere to hide. “Create in me a clean heart, O God” is as much an appeal to God’s own heart as it is David’s desperate desire for his heart to return to the relationship he had with God before his weak will threatened to ruin it all. And therein likes our hope. In the cross of Christ we have every reason to trust that God’s heart is inextricably bound to ours and that with or without ruddy good looks our wandering ways cannot separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Lent 3a - conclusion

I’ve got a new app for my 4G Android phone. It’s called RunKeeper and it does what its name implies. I’ve used it three times in the last four days and have already surpassed my goal of beating my best 5K time of 26:04. It’s all because a lovely young woman (at least I think of her in those terms) speaks to me through my headphones at set intervals telling me distance run, time and average pace. Of course I still have to do the running but without Ms. RunKeeper I tend to fall off my pace.  Now all I need is for lovely younger than me Lisa to get up early and be waiting with water at the 2 mile mark.  The children of Israel have fallen off their pace, forgetting the good things the Lord has done and complaining make life difficult for Moses and God. You’d hope the water gushing from the rock might revive them like a water station but centuries later the psalmist speaking for God warns the people of his day not to make the same mistake as their ancestors in the wilderness. The apostle Paul, running his race with perseverance, enduring suffering, building character hopes in the Lord who ran the race ahead of us, for us. And the woman at the well refreshed, renewed, recreated by the encounter with living water surpasses all she could ever hope or dream and like a person with a new app can’t help but share it with everyone.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Lent 3a - John 4:5-42

 Nicodemus, hiding from prying eyes, seeking answers, looks for Jesus at night. The Samaritan woman, hiding from judgmental eyes, seeking water, is found by Jesus in the heat of the day. Nicodemus, the teacher of Israel, doesn’t step out into the open until Jesus is dead. The unnamed woman at the well gains the courage to be exposed as a believer in a single encounter. Of course Nicodemus had a lot to lose while the woman at the well never had anything to begin with. Even so she is just as confused over the meaning of living water as the teacher of Israel was with being born again. But where Nicodemus goes away perplexed everything comes into focus for her when Jesus tells her, “I am he.” She says she came to believe because “he told me everything I had ever done” but I imagine the people of Sychar kept track of her history and reminded her of it on a regular basis. It must be that Jesus told her story differently than the people of Sychar she was avoiding. Jesus knew all the things that labeled her as less than respectable but spoke to her as if none of that mattered. Without knowing it she was drinking deeply at the well of living water. When she realized her thirst was quenched she did what Jesus did. He did not hold her infidelity against her and she did not hold their hatred against them but went to find those who made her draw water in the heat of the day with the good news, “everyone who drinks of this water will never thirst again.” No doubt she went back to the man who wasn’t her husband. There were not many options in the first century for a woman married five times. But then the woman who went to the well at noon was not the same woman who came home that night and one hopes the city of Sychar, noticing the difference, was changed as well.    

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Lent 3a - Romans 5:1-11

Since it is God’s love that is proved in the death of Christ whatever Paul means by being “saved from the wrath of God” cannot be understood as an angry God needing to be appeased or there will be hell to pay. It just doesn’t follow that a wrathful God initiates the action to be reconciled to us (humanity) while we were weak, while we were sinners, while we were God’s enemies, as if God just needed to kill something in order to spare humanity. I know Paul says that the blood of Jesus justifies but the entire religious world of his day practiced ritual sacrifice as a means of motivating the gods or in the case of the Jews atoning for sin. To be sure there are those who hold to a classic doctrine of atonement where God’s holiness does not allow for mercy without payment due, but that seems to make God subject to our religious systems. Again if it is God’s love that is proved surely God is free to forgive with or without the cross. So what is the purpose of Jesus death? I affirm it is for the forgiveness sins but not to appease a wrathful God, but rather to transform us so that what Paul preaches in Romans five might be accomplished. Peace with God means we no longer live as God’s enemies but instead our love for God is proved when we boast not in our strength or our piety but in our hope. That hope is not illusory but tested by suffering, proved by enduring, confirmed in our character it is the way we live the faith that justifies and is the only hope of peace for the humanity God loves.  

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Lent 3a - Psalm 95

"Crucifixion (Corpus Hypercubus)" - Salvador Dalí (1954)

Psalm 95
Those of us who were born into Lutheran Church Missouri Synod pews some fifty years ago will remember Psalm 95 as the Venite in the Order of Matins. It was printed on pages 33 and 34 of The Lutheran Hymnal in such a way that one had to flip back and forth throughout the singing of it. We frowned on user friendly worship in those days. Venite is Latin for “Come” and served as the call to worship, though if I remember correctly we left out the threats at the end where God loathing the “they do not regard my ways” people swore to lead them in circles until every last one of them died in the desert. There is no doubt that the hardening of the heart leads to spiritual cardiac arrest but I have difficulty imaging that God loathes those on spiritual life support. The consequence we suffer for not listening to the Lord’s voice is that we are on our own. That does not mean we suffer the hatred of God who in anger despises the “people of his pasture and the sheep of his hand” who don’t toe the line. Rather for the sake of “a people whose hearts go astray” the shepherd “was led like a lamb to the slaughter…” (Isaiah 53:7) O come let us worship and bow down for the Lord was put to the test and the proof of God’s intention for every generation of hardened hearts was the cross.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Lent 3a - Exodus 17:1-7

Exodus 17:1-7
The congregation of the Israelites is a pain in the Lord’s you know what. And poor Moses standing between this quarrelsome people and a God who when push comes to shove is not to be trifled with no doubt regrets the day he listened to a burning bush. To be fair dying of thirst in the desert drives people to do all sorts of crazy things including provoking the Lord Almighty with complaints. Even in their desperation they had every reason to trust the Lord for when they complained of hunger manna and quail arrived in time for dinner. But these people have a short memory, forgetting the Lord’s faithfulness in the past in light of their present pressing need. We tend to be more polite in our relationship with the Almighty predicating our “demands” with please, but whether one complains or pleads ultimately the question is the same. “Is the Lord among us or not?” Our dry times of trouble call for patient trust so that our present pressing need does not speak more loudly than the memory of deliverance when in the past “the Lord among us” was like water from the rock.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Lent 2a - conclusion

Genesis 12:1-4; Psalm 121; Romans 4:1-4, 13-17; John 3:1-17
Our LA Fitness boot camp kicked its own boot without the benefit of our teacher Aubree because she ate Chinese food the night before that did a jiujutsu on her tummy. Since we’ve all been to enough camps to know how boots break a sweat we decided to go for it on our own. It was cooperative effort with someone finding a music CD and someone else keeping track of the time for each exercise and every now and then someone saying, “Oh my goodness!” just like Aubree would if she had been there. We even did things we don’t like to do, though the second time round we gave the squat jumps a rest. That’s not a bad analogy for the life of faith when we do the things we know to do, even the things we don’t like, because we can hear the instructor in our head, or maybe our heart? It sounds like God talks to Abraham all the time but there are long stretches when believing the promise means being faithful without being told things. Even though the psalm says “he will not let your foot be moved” help that comes from the Lord is often the little bit of strength you need to put one foot in front of the other until the final “going out” is your forever home -”coming in”. Faith reckoned as righteousness is letting grace be the resting place of faith without having to work out all the details. And Nicodemus, remembering the conversation in the night, is born from above when he risks his reputatiton in the light of day to ask for the body of Jesus, who he'll soon find out is the Christ, the light of the world God loves.           

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Lent 2a - John 3:1-17

John 3:1-17
 Some of us familiar with faith, comfortable in the pew of our choice, are more like Nicodemus than we care to admit. Not ready to come out of the church closet where we suspect our concrete answers rest on shaky ground, we do our seeking at night, so to speak, so as not to be exposed as doubters. But the same Spirit that drove Nicodemus to risk his standing in the Sanhedrin drives us. There is something more to Jesus than our catechisms can contain or explain. So as Nicodemus, the teacher of Israel, seeks out the peasant preacher at night to ask the question that is most on his mind, “who are you?” we come with our own questions. Jesus, who is not one to give an easy answer, is surprisingly straight forward. “God so loved the world…” is all one needs to know. It is the same world (cosmos) that loving the darkness “knew him not”. The same world that John tells us hated Jesus, the world in which one will have troubles, the world from which disciples will need to be protected, etc. etc. The feel good John 3:16 on coffee cups and t-shirts and banners in the end zone cannot be fully appreciated without recognizing  that the world God loves, hell bent on destruction, is not interested in anything God has to offer.  It is for that reason that God allowed the world to do its worst so that in his dying the world might receive life, whether it wants it or not. But isn’t there a choice to make? Of course there is and God was the one who made it. We live God’s choice when loving God we love the world. It takes some time but eventually the love of God in Nicodemus sees the light of day and he risks everything to ask Pilate for the body of the crucified Christ. What he didn’t know then, but of course knows now, is that Jesus (God saves) made Nicodemus (the people’s victory) possible.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Lent 2a - Romans 4:1-5, 13-17

Romans 4:1-17
I wonder what Abraham would think of the three children that name him father. All three claim first born rights that exclude the others, even though the middle child was adopted and the youngest was born to Abram’s slave Hagar. Is this what God had in mind? That many nations fathered would include Judaism, Christianity and Islam?  And how in the world did a small fortress city at the crossroads of empires (the El Paso of the Middle East, as someone said to me yesterday) come to be the center of the spiritual universe? I know Paul does not state it explicitly in chapter four but it would seem to follow that God would desire peace between father Abraham’s children in the city named Yerushalayim (abode of peace). I’m not making any predictions as to how that might happen, though the only way I even entertain the hope is because I believe the One who suffered a violent end in the abode of peace can “make all things new”. Therefore what has to be let go for peace to last, even within the adopted child's immediate family, is the notion that whatever God gives us is wages owed for work done. Our temptation is to move faith from the credit column to the debit side of the ledger so that even when we are not doing anything we can claim we did something to guarantee the second child is the only sibling that will receive the inheritance. Faith lets the promise rest on grace, is what Paul writes the Romans, so let’s leave it there and trust that the God who brings life to the dead and calls into existence things that do not exist will work out the details.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Lent 2a - Psalm 121

Josef Žáček b. 1951 - Resurrection 1988
Psalm 121 is read at graveside services even though it would seem help from the hills is a little late in arriving. But then funerals are for the living, not the dead. It is the living who struggle to hold onto to “my help comes from the Lord” in the sight of loved ones laid to rest, even when death is a welcome release. To speak of our God who neither slumbers nor sleeps In the face of life’s inevitable end denies death the last word for the deceased as well as those who mourn. There are times, of course, when the ancient words alone fail to help, when desperate prayer is spoken into deafening silence, when the Lord awake seems absent.  It is for those trying times that God gifts us with help closer to home than the hills. Speaking the ancient words of faith together, even with weeping eye and through clenched teeth, keeps us from the evil of hopelessness and in the life of the community our lives are kept.  All of which remembers the help that came from the holy hill of Calvary when the Lord who neither slumbers nor sleeps slept in death and three days later rose again so that our final “going out” would  be our forever “coming in”.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Lent 2a - Genesis 12:1-4

Genesis 12:1-4
This is the story of ultimate faith, though to be fair I imagine the opportunity for advancement was limited for Semitic septuagenarians in the land of the Chaldeans. Still it took a leap of faith for Abram to go home and tell Sari to pack the bags and load the camel because God told him he was destined for favored nation status in a “God only knows where” land. So while it is the promised pot of gold at the end of the rainbow that makes the offer tempting, it is ultimately Abraham’s trust that God can deliver that gets him to leave the center of civilization to wander the wilderness. Whether he knew it or not God blessed Abraham to be a blessing, even with the caveat about the cursed, since “all peoples will be blessed” would not be “all” without them. When you read the rest of the Abraham story his trust was less than trustworthy and he did as much maneuvering as following. Of course we do the same and before leaving country, people and home we generally “trust but verify”. In the very end Abraham put his trust where his heart was when with the seed of the promise on the altar of sacrifice and his hand raised to do the unthinkable God intervened and spared the only son. For us it is not a ram but the God of promises who is caught in the thicket on Calvary’s hill and the only Son not spared is cursed so that we might be blessed to be a blessing.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Lent 1a - Conclusion

Lent arriving late this year has been underway for less than three days, which means those of you who have given up chocolate or eating out or drinking or heaven forbid, Facebook, have a long way to go. It has been observed by some (mostly math majors who can count) that Ash Wednesday to Easter is more than forty days. The church balances the equation by saying Sundays are mini Easters and therefore don’t count as part of the forty, which means you can be on Facebook 24 hours a day, as long as you do it all on Sunday. In Genesis the first humans are not satisfied with creature status and lust after godhood. Betting paradise it won’t be as bad as God said their willfulness unbalanced the equation. The rest of us followed suit and psalm 32 names the consequence of not letting God take the lead. In Romans 5 the death that came to all due to Adam’s disobedience is contrasted with the life that came through the one man Jesus and it’s a good bet Jesus trumps Adam in ways we cannot fully comprehend this side of the forever future. And the Gospel is the story of the duel in the desert which will be repeated on the cross. The good news is that because Jesus dies he is the last man standing and in the end it’s Satan who takes the fall.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Lent 1a - Matthew 4:1-11

It is right after Jesus’ baptism when The Voice from heaven declared “You are my beloved Son” that the Spirit led him into the wilderness for the time of testing. Famished after fasting, the tempter’s first attempt appeals to Jesus’ stomach. “Turn theses stones into bread” is an appetizing option after forty days and nights without food.  But Jesus is well fed on the word of God and trusting The Voice that declared him The Beloved he is not as hungry as the devil thought. The consummate con man changes tactics and using “every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” tempts Jesus to give a demonstration of his trust. This temptation is trickier than it appears because proof negates trust but Jesus knows that testing The Voice denies the truth that he is The Beloved.  Believing the third time’s the charm the devil goes back to the basics and uses the temptation that worked so well in the garden. It is a temptation to take power from The Voice who called him The Beloved, even though it appears in bowing down Jesus would have to give power away. But the devil is offering an option, a discount if you will. Bow down on a high mountain or climb a hill to the place called the skull. It’s your choice, Jesus, and don’t let some Voice tell you different. To which Jesus replied, “Nice try.” And the devil said, “damn you” and left knowing he’d have to meet Jesus on the hill and there wasn’t a chance in hell he was going to fool the Beloved there. And the angels came smiling, laughing, rejoicing, as Jesus breathed a sigh of relief and rested in their arms.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Lent 1a - Romans 5:12-21

The fifth chapter of Romans articulates the great reversal we make conditional by claiming it cannot be fully accomplished without our assistance. If Adam’s sin did me in and I had anything to do with it why does Jesus need my help to undo what Adam did? Some would say that Jesus only covers Adam’s deed (original sin) and therefore I am responsible for what I’ve added to the mix. But if I was flawed from the get go I didn’t stand a chance in h-e-double hockey sticks to get it right, and even less of a chance without the benefit of being born to Christian parents in a Christian country in an age when not being Christian was less of an option than it is today.  If you hold onto a personal relationship with Jesus Christ as the password to paradise you must accept that the vast majority of humanity that has ever lived suffers eternally in hellish torment beyond what even the most demented human mind can devise.  But if “the free gift is not like the trespass” surely we can trust that in the end Christ is more effective than Adam. So is there no consequence for sin? Of course there is and we live it every day in things done and left undone, in things said and left unsaid. Judgment does not wait for a future day but is present in every word, thought and deed that diminishes the life of love, the life the Creator intended for us. The final future belongs to God and if the cross is any indication I’m betting God will be more merciful than you or I. And so we wear ashes today to be reminded that we share Adam’s beginning and his end. “Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return” But we gather at the table, “this is my body given for you, this is my blood shed for you” to be reminded that we are joined to Christ who has no beginning or end. “The free gift is not like the trespass” or in other words grace trumps judgment.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Lent 1a - Psalm 32

My guess is that we have all lived through more than a day and night of “when I kept silence my body wasted away.” Of course some are better at holding up under the heavy hand of the Lord than others, but sooner or later the soul longs for relief, and confession, good for the soul, also blesses the body. That we resist so long, or at all for that matter, speaks to our stubbornness to submit to a Higher Power and conform our lives to the life of our Lord. But the consequence of silence is that we will be overcome in times of distress, and trouble, like the rush of mighty waters, will overwhelm us. The hiding places of our own design are not helpful and the deliverance we experience is an illusion. The “happy are those” only happens through absolute honesty with self and the Lord. However, (and here’s the part I don’t like) the Lord is not silent either, but speaks through flesh and blood faithful friends we know we can trust to tell us the truth. That’s because we can confess a thousand times over to the Lord and no one’s the wiser. But if we confess what troubles us to a faithful friend our hiding place will be less lonely and the deliverance more permanent.  

Monday, March 7, 2011

Lent 1a - Genesis 2:15-3:21

However you read this story, as literal truth or origin myth, it is dead on about humanity’s fatal flaw. Living in paradise the first humans were not satisfied, wanting just one more thing. The serpent gave voice to the doubts already in their minds about the One who walked and talked with them but withheld that one thing. It was their lust for the fruit, a delight to the eye and desirable for knowledge, that led them to roll the dice and bet paradise they’d gain more than they would lose. Of we course we know they lost everything, except the One who walked with them in the first place. Even though the ultimate consequence is death God clothes them to cover their shame and protect them from the harsh reality of life outside the walls of paradise. That’s the grace in this story for them and for us.  Despite our rebellious nature, our own lusting after power or possessions, or our devaluation of self through destructive behaviors or relationships, the One we have offended bears the offense of the cross, clothing us in righteousness, so that in our final end we return to that perfect beginning.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Transfiguration Year A - Conclusion

Exodus 24:12-18; Psalm 2; 2 Peter 1:16-21; Matthew 17:1-9
Lent is arriving almost a month later than last year and even those of us who do church for a living are surprised that Ash Wednesday is less than a week away. Maybe we thought Epiphany would go on forever but here we are, Transfiguration Sunday, the end of Epiphany and the beginning of Lent. It makes liturgical sense to let Jesus be transfigured into the light of His beginning (a theological oxymoron) before descending into the darkness of His end (another theological oxymoron) for though we confess he is the Alpha and Omega, He has no beginning and will know no end. But none-the-less this Sunday, maybe more than any other, lifts up how far God is willing to fall for the sake of the fallen. The frightening fire and smoke Mount Sinai shaking presence will die naked on a hill. The Psalm 2 kiss my feet or I will kill you allows those same feet to be nailed to wood and forgives those who did the dirty deed. The God whose intelligence designed the universe calls an illiterate fisherman to be the prophetic messenger for the Beloved Son. And finally and most amazing of all, the God beyond knowing desires to be known and touching fainted souls says, “Get up and do not be afraid.”

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Transfiguration Year A - Matthew 17:1-9

Matthew 17:1-9
It’s only been six days since Jesus rebuked Peter, “Get behind me, Satan!” for not understanding picking up the cross as the purpose of Jesus’ life and the only way for disciples to follow. Now blinded by the light Peter wants to stay put and dwell permanently on the mountaintop. It’s the voice, “LISTEN TO HIM” that shuts Peter up and overcome by fear he and his companions faint dead away. It takes the touch and voice of Jesus, “get up and do not be afraid” to wake them and then sworn to secrecy they descend to the less frightening and more familiar places on the plain. It’s a strange story but then that’s the nature of a theophany. The recognizable transfigured into the mysterious as the Jesus who ate and drank with disciples in the valley glows like a nuclear reactor on the mountain top while talking to the long gone law giver and end time prophet about God knows what. So we who are comfortable with “What a friend we have in Jesus” also sing “Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise” and hold the two in tension. The familiar and friendly Jesus is the One who in the beginning was the Word and in the end will be judge and jury of all. It may be that in our end, when we come face to face with that terrifying reality, will faint dead away, but then I’m trusting that the Lord Jesus will touch us and “Get up and do not be afraid” will be the only Word we hear.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Transfiguration Year A - 2 Peter 1:16-21

2 Peter 1:16-21
It is a testimony to the conviction of the first disciples that anyone believed what surely must have seemed less a cleverly devised myth and more just outright nonsense. But people did believe the eyewitness testimony of these Galilean fishermen and then with equal passion proclaimed the crucified and resurrected Jewish peasant preacher Jesus, who they had never seen, to be the Beloved of God and Savior of the world. Whenever we are tempted to despair of the statistical decline of the church we would do well to pay attention to the lamp of their prophetic message shining in the darkness of our time; not because we fear some future final judgment, but because we are convinced that the same word that captured the imagination of first century people is equally relevant in the 21st. Perhaps the church grew complacent for a time, satisfied with the status quo, but the prophetic word is always present and just waiting for those who believe to give it voice. So let us pray that the day will dawn and the morning star will rise in our hearts as it did theirs, and moved by the Holy Spirit we will make know the power and coming of our Lord Jesus.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Transfiguration Year A - Psalm 2

Psalm 2
Let me start by kissing the Lord’s feet and acknowledge that God is God and I am not, so if God wants to speak with wrath and fury to break the nations and smash the people to pieces that is God’s prerogative. But I have some trouble with this text where God laughs at and then with terrifying fury uses his servant to destroy kings who exalt themselves. That’s because people without power perish right along with princes and the king God set on Zion’s hill broke a long list of nations with an iron rod and spared no one, not even women and children. And secondly it would appear the trembling foot kissers taking happy refuge in the Lord are only doing so to avoid being destroyed themselves, for God’s wrath is quickly kindled if proper respect is not shown. So what do we do with the second psalm? We can say there is truth in these words and there are good reasons to destroy rulers of the earth who exalt themselves, Muammar el-Qaddafi being the most recent example. But when it comes to the nature of God this is not the truest word. The truest word about God’s nature is that instead of kissing the Lord’s feet we nailed them to wood and “Father forgive them” was clearly not a second psalm response.