Posts

Morning Star

This is the subject matter of the 5th Advent Antiphon:O Morning star, splendour od light eternal and the Sun of righteousness.Come and enlighten those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.According to the historical book of Numbers this star will arise in Israel with a sceptre top rule over God’s ancient people.According to the Gospel of Mathew priests of an alternative religion saw a star in the night sky and followed it to Jerusalem.There they enquired of the then King, Herod, where the child had been born who would be King of the Jews.In Bethlehem, was the answer, which means the house of bread, the gift of wisdom to her people.According to the prophet Isaiah there is a sense in which we are all living in darkness and need enlightenment.Whilst the Psalmist can lament that too often our experience is like the shadow of death.Leonard Cohen has a song in which he remarks that it is only through the cracks in the pot that the light can get in.My sense form these scriptures is …

Jesus' Mission

Jesus came proclaiming and Incarnating an alternative empire to Rome.It was an Empire characterised by service and love rather than by domination and cruelty.He came to his own people, largely, and incurred the wrath of the authorities by threatening the establishment.Not only did he reject their interpretation of their own scriptures but he established an alternative purity system.At that time there was a very narrowly defined set of conditions of and for those that were deemed acceptable.Acceptable to the power brokers who controlled the means of access to God, namely the Temple.Those who were untouchables, sinners, women, tax collectors ie agents of Rome, Samaritans and so forth.It should be clear that this was a patriarchal structure, defined in terms of gender and race that was intended to exclude.Similarly it should be clear that in word and deed Jesus exploded such exclusivity and inequality.Indeed at one point Jesus suggested that were the Temple to be destroyed, he would rais…

Wisdom

The Apostle Paul describes Jesus Christ as the power and wisdom of God (1 Cor 1;24).He is contending with those in the fledgling church that he had helped birth in Corinth who would prefer signs and wonders and great oratory.He is contending with those who measure status and significance in terms of strength and learning.His response is to declare that God’s strength is human weakness and God’s wisdom human foolishness.And that this is exemplified in the person, teaching and death of Jesus the Christ.Jesus to use the song of his Mother was the one who lifted up the lowly and brought down the mighty from their thrones.This is the wisdom of God, the equalisation of all peoples, the honouring of the least honoured and the dishonouring of those who think too highly of themselves.This is the power of God, the forgiveness of sinners, sitting and eating with them and the confounding of religious scruples and cleanliness preclusions.The power is in the sacrificial blood of Christ and the wisd…

Treasure

Jesus described the alternative Empire he came to proclaim, incarnate and establish as treasure hidden in a filed and as a pearl of great price.The Empire of heaven is counter to that of Rome and rooted not in violence, slavery and oppression but peace, service and love.The Empire’s of this world that have come and gone nevertheless share characteristics of their unseen invisible Heavenly counterpart.They are universal and embrace all peoples, they require a response it is impossible to remain neutral in or to either earthly of heavenly Empire’s.In and of themselves these alternative Empire’s mysteriously grow, have a life in and of themselves and bear fruit the one form to evil and the other to good.This Heavenly treasure is hidden because God delights in playing the game of hide and seek, a game that all children love.This is a game of love in contrast to the bullying that so often characterises childrens lives on the playground.It turns out that there is about us and our reality th…

Sidonians

So who has heard of the Sidonians?Perhaps if I say the cities of Tyre and Sidon some might get the Gospel reference to the travels of Jesus.That said it is somewhat strange that he did travel to that part of the ancient world.Again unless we are familiar with the Hebrew scriptures we would miss this as well.For Tyre and Sidon were regarded at the time of Jesus by the people of God as, as good as, or rather as bad as the Samaritans.And I suppose I assume that most people will have heard of them because of one of Jesus’ most famous parables about good neighbourliness.Albeit that once again I suspect most of us will not have a clue that to Jesus’ audience a ‘good Samaritan’ was a contradiction in terms, san impossibility.So Jesus deliberately chooses a Samaritan for his parable just as he deliberately journeys to and through the region of Tyre and Sidon, it is calculated.The Gospel writer Luke as well as Jesus anticipates that we will make these connections.In Luke chapter 13 the number …

The way Jesus rereads the Hebrew Scriptures

This Sunday we turned our attention to the beginning of mark chapter 3.The Gospel writer records an incident early in Jesus ministry in the synagogue on a sabbath.#The scriptures would be opened and read out loud for commentary and discussion.So too we do that on a Sunday morning in church.At its best this is an open ended participative engagement with the words and the one who stands behind them.On this occasion there was a man with a crippled hand and the leaders of the people are looking to see if Jesus will break the sabbath by healing him.Jesus asks them a question from the end of Deuteronomy, the sermon of Moses to the people before they enter the promised land.Is it better to save a life or to kill, to do good or evil on the sabbath. The answer od course is obvious and confounds his opponents.But here is where legalism has driven the religious interpreters of their scriptures.They are occupying a place of condemnation of the Deliverer, the Christ who comes to release the oppres…

18 years

I am somewhat obsessed with numbers when they occur in the Bible.So when I read in an encounter between Jesus and the synagogue ruler that there is a woman there bent over for 18 years I wonder.Apparently and I haven’t been able to confirm this Jesus never quotes form the books of Joshua or Judges.Unsurprising really as these two books record the record of Ancient Israel’s dealings or I should say destruction and genocide of the indigenous peoples of Canaan. As far as these two books are concerned, according to their writers they have God’s sanction for such bloodthirsty violence.Of course it is no wonder Jesus never quotes form them as he takes a very different view of who is my neighbour/enemy (A hated Samaritan par excellence) and teaches not a tooth for a tooth, kill or be killed but rather non-violent resistance of injustice and love of one’s enemies.Therefore in this particular encounter the allusion to Judges chapter 3, the only other place in the whole of his scriptures whe…