Sunday, September 30, 2012

Questions for going deeper with the Scriptures for Sunday, September 30th      

Is God really there for and with us?  If so, shouldn’t life be easier?  Shouldn’t we not suffer?  Since we still suffer, struggle and live in strife, does that mean that our hope is misplaced in God? That God is unloving?  Or that God is impuissant to save, protect and heal us?  Theologians call this existential question that of THEODICY:  is God good?  Is God all powerful?  If so why is there evil?  If not, how can God be God?  Today’s passage tells the return of Moses to Egypt, his initial confrontation with Pharaoh, and what seemed to be a great failure in the eyes of the enslaves Israelites.  The Israelites only see the bricks their made to make.  God sees something else: the bricks with which God wants to build a new land, a new people, a new hope.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Blogging Towards Sunday, September 23rd     

What’s in a name?  That’s the question with which today’s scripture from Exodus wrestles.  Always a propos, the question seems even more poignant in this time of increasingly vehement and violent religious discourse, political action and violent extremism.  All the religions of the world lift up compassion, justice and peace.  And yet multiple mysterious things are done in the name of divinities: the storming of an embassy in Libya, the Japanese invasion and occupation of the Korean Peninsula, the blockade of the West Bank, the enslavement of Africans, the Crusades, the 9/11 bombing, the Spanish Inquisition and the cold blood murders of medical workers who perform abortions.  It’s easy for us to look at actions taken in the name of other gods and traditions as see how they are twisted, and yet we have to admit that in our own faith community tragically destructive things have been done in the name of the God we serve and follow.  So where does that leave us?  If we claim to do things in the name of God, are we religious extremists?  When we pray in the name of Jesus of Nazareth are we intolerant activists?  If we don’t invoke the name of God in our actions, decisions and talk are we denying our faith out of the fear of being labeled extremists or even terrorists?

Friday, September 14, 2012

Blogging Towards Sunday, September 16th     

“Even the smallest person can change the course of the future.” – J. R. R. Tolkien

We’re starting a new series wrestling with the story of the Exodus.  The underlying theme of the book is about freedom.  That God frees us from slavery for covenant life together.  As you read that sentence, and as we work through the text in the coming weeks our guiding interpretive question is what does that mean?  Then?  Now? 

We also should ask ourselves How does this mean?  “Unlike the recipes in a cookbook or the instructions in an elementary arithmetic book, there are meanings and truths that simply are not sayable in a series of simples sentences.  Indeed the richer the meanings, and the more important the truths, the more difficult it is to say them simply in the spirit of one plus one equals two.  Therefore, poets, and storytellers, too, resort to a variety of strategies for using words in ways that will catch and embody meanings and truths that we may all have felt and believed to be real or at least hoped against hop might be so, but find it difficult to express.” – J. Gerald Janzen in Exodus.

Friday, September 07, 2012

Blogging Towards Sunday, September 9th     

We’ve been reading through the gospel of Mark on Sundays for several months.  Today we arrive at the end of the story.  It’s either the worst ending to a story, or a great ending that’s actually a re-beginning.  Most Biblical scholars esteem that the original ending of the gospel concludes with verse 8 (our proposed reading), advancing that the early church added what we call verses 9 – 20 in order to smooth the rough edges of the story of the women who remain mute, passive and afraid.