Thursday, August 25, 2016
Wednesday, August 24, 2016
“Entertaining Angels Unaware” is one of my favorite songs by Erik Johansson, a Vermonter and part time Texan who restores pipe organs and through his music and prayer the human heart as well, including my own I might add. It was always my first request in the past when he would unpack his hand made harp, followed closely by my second request for a whimsical, sweet song about fishing with a child. They might be the same thing for when the human heart is healed by hospitality the angels are entertained and in our restoration they rejoice. The hospitable life of Hebrews is found in mutual love expressed by loving the stranger, which is the literal meaning of the Greek. It means we remember those in prison as if we were in their place. It is for one’s own being to be tortured by the thought of another’s body violated, as well as grieving for the spirit and soul and mind of the one who devises and inflicts pain upon another. Honoring marriage, resisting the lure of wealth, contentment within one’s self, being thankful for faithful leaders, doing good and sharing what you have are all expressions of the hospitable life in which the angels rejoice and God is pleased. So entertaining angels unaware is not a chance encounter with a cherub but a life encountered and changed by Jesus, the same yesterday, today and always.
Tuesday, August 23, 2016
Monday, August 22, 2016
The first thing to say is that whatever we say about this proverb it was obviously written to those who had the ability to put themselves forward in the presence of the king. The closest I’ve come to royalty is the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace and since the royal standard wasn’t flying above the royal apartment the Queen was being royal somewhere else. Apparently no one told her I was coming. I don’t think I’ll be using Solomon’s sage advice anytime soon. So what is to be said about two verses which have little application to those who are not likely to stand or sit in the place of the great? “Don’t think of yourselves more highly than you ought” is how the apostle Paul might have applied the text to his audience, the vast majority of whom would never get an audience with the king, unless of course they were being martyred in the coliseum. But it is to those white robed martyrs that the King of the universe says come up here while the kings of the earth, and queens for that matter, are put down from their thrones. I am sure that is not what Solomon meant to say in this proverb but then my guess is that he might want to follow his own advice when ushered into the presence of the KING of KINGS.
Friday, August 19, 2016
The woman set free from being bent over praises God while the synagogue ruler standing up straight remains bent over by the rules and regulations he is so keen on keeping. This daughter of Abraham knew her need and for eighteen years had endured the stares and whispers of those whose religious perspective placed the blame squarely on her bowed shoulders. Bad things happen to bad people. The synagogue ruler, a son of Abraham in a position of prestige and power, had no idea that the very things he held as holy prevented him from being holy. God said it this way more than once, “I desire mercy not sacrifice.” If the Sabbath is meant to return one to the place of rest, modeled by the Creator on the seventh day, then the Sabbath was always meant to reconnect the created to the God who commanded that rest be observed. Jesus said it this way more than once, “The Sabbath was meant for you. Not you for the Sabbath.” So the Sabbath that reconnects us to the One who commanded it begins with an attitude of care and concern for all of creation, beasts of burdens and daughters and sons of Abraham and everyone else for that matter, which is meant to lead us to act in ways that bring healing and peace and justice seven days a week. Or in other words: Sabbath sacrificed for mercy praises God while mercy sacrificed for Sabbath is no rest at all.