Thursday, July 21, 2016
Wednesday, July 20, 2016
Agony by Theyre Lee-Elliott (1903-1988)
The rulers and authorities intended to make a public example of Jesus by nailing him to a cross. But what rulers intended for evil God intended for good and in the ultimate irony the shame of the cross is its glory. Those who killed Jesus according to the demands of the law could not foresee that condemning Christ would in the end fulfill the law. We who are not overly concerned with circumcision or keeping kosher or observing festivals must none-the-less admit our tendency to prefer the rules and regulations of religion, if only for the regiment they bring, to what otherwise seems too good to be true or too simple to be of much use. Each tradition claims Christ and disagreements about perceived fundamentals of faith lead one to dismiss the other as misguided or misinformed or sadly mistaken. But if God set aside the requirements of kosher and circumcision and Sabbath without a substitution save one then maybe that’s the only thing we have to hold onto to remain rooted and built up and established in the God who is Love.
Tuesday, July 19, 2016
The small g gods who covet a capital G will have to listen while the psalmist sings praise of the Lord exalted above all things especially small g gods. The kings of the earth, accustomed to people bowing down to them, will have to bow down to a higher power and join the song whether they like it or not. And so you might expect the Lord of all the earth, who puts little g gods in their place and is King above all kings, to act the part. But this One who knows no equal, no rival, no one worthy of comparison, regards the lowly, preserves the powerless, and delivers the needy. Therefore, the whole heart of the psalmist gives thanks despite walking in the midst of trouble for the Lord is near and not far off. We too, when strengthened in soul by the steadfast love of the Lord, trust that purposes for us which may or may not be immediately apparent will in fact be fulfilled for the capital G God and the King above all kings hears the words of our mouth and knows the needs of our soul.
Monday, July 18, 2016
Sodom and Gormorrah by Henry Tanner 1920
Abraham does not dispute the wickedness of Sodom and Gomorrah or the punishment God has planned for the twin sin cities. Abraham’s concern is for the collateral damage caused by God’s righteous wrath which must in his mind include his nephew Lot and Lot’s family. Each proposal preceded by “Far be it from you” asks God to reconsider the just sentence on the wicked for the sake of a diminishing population of the righteous. He stops at ten because he either senses he’s gone as far as God will go or he can’t imagine there would be less than ten righteous people in the cities on the plain. Unfortunately for the wicked there are only four who are counted righteous, although the character of Lot’s turned to salt wife is questionable. And Lot’s daughters prove to be as sinful as Sodom (Genesis 19:30-36) and Lot drunk in a cave is no saint. So what if no one is righteous? What then? What Abraham didn’t know and we can hardly imagine is that God’s desire was that mercy would triumph over judgment for it is God’s will to be both just and the one who justifies. So since none were found, God in Christ became the One through whom we are counted righteous and who knows, might also be the ones for whose sake the city is spared.
Thursday, July 14, 2016
Martha is distracted by her many tasks because truth is without her they won’t get done. Luke doesn't tell us what the many tasks are but I imagine they have something to do with a house full of freeloaders. Not the Lord, mind you. Martha was happy to have Jesus over for a visit. It was all those fisher folk and tax collectors who came with him. Food has to be prepared. The table has to be set. The good silverware has to be polished and counted – because you can’t trust Galileans not to walk off with a fork or three. At any rate there are things to be done and Martha is the only one doing them. It may be that Martha is often distracted by many tasks but if that’s the case maybe Mary spends a lot time sitting and not helping. I know that is not the point of the story but what if everyone chose the better part? Who would wash the dishes? So if Mary was listening closely to Jesus she might hear him say, “I came not to be served but to serve” and get up and help her sister. And then maybe Martha might have a chance to hear Jesus say, “do not be anxious about your life…” and sit down at the feet of Jesus.