Monthly Archives: January 2017

Where Power and Majesty Truly Abide

Psalms 68:28-35 

OK, O God, time to put up or shut up! Insist or get out of the way. Political leaders like to curry your favor, but status-seeking and violence are out of sync with the insistence of peace and justice in the name of God. Perhaps. That insistence is where the true power and majesty reside. Insistence in the name of God (perhaps) is like the roll of thunder across the heavens. It is that insistence, the calling that draws Israel to worship and gives the people power and strength. Blessed be the name of God!

Insistence

Leviticus 23:1-3          The Lord said to Moses: Speak to the Israelites and say to them: These are my appointed times, the Lord’s appointed times, which you will declare to be holy occasions: Work can be done for six days, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of special rest, a holy occasion. You must not do any work on it; wherever you live, it is a Sabbath to the Lord.
[Scripture taken from the Common English Bible®, CEB® Copyright © 2010, 2011 by Common English Bible.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.]

Moses was insisted upon in the name of God. Perhaps. He then insisted upon the Israelites, establishing certain festivals as sacred assemblies. At this time the seventh day was established as a holy sabbatical, a consecrated day of rest and renewal, a time to revitalize connection with the Divine, Mystery, Spirit, God, Higher Power, Other, Sacred dimension of life. Let it be so!

Messianic Good News

Ephesians 3:1-14

I, Paul, have been imprisoned because I have been spreading the good news about Yeshua, who embodies the new messianic vocation of Israel. This prison cell is but a bump in the road and will not deter me from making sure that Gentiles, like you, are included at the Great Banquet table. I want to make sure that you know how and why I understand the mystery of the Christ. Previously this mystery was hidden from humankind, but now has been revealed — namely, that the Gentiles have been brought into the fold along with the Jews. The messianic good news heralded by Yeshua is for you.

I have become an ambassador for this good news. I continue to teach and preach among the Gentiles so that the grace and compassion manifested by Yeshua might become the normalcy of civilization — so that the church might be a font of wisdom for the world and the nations might more closely resemble the Commonwealth of Peace and Justice. This is the messianic insistence to which Yeshua committed himself and in which we we become not only confident followers of Yeshua, but also bold agents of God. Don’t be distressed by my current circumstances. My being in prison has taken the heat off of you. I hope it also spurs you on toward the Commonwealth.

Invest Yourself and Be Transformed

1 Peter 5:1-11

As one elder to other elders, I have a word for you, distilled from my attending to that unheard inner voice that comes in the name of God. Perhaps. Insofar as possible make sure that your leadership is in tune with God. Check it against the Way lived and taught by Yeshua. Remember, your job is not to lord it over them. Instead be an example of one who has committed his/her life to solidarity with the poor, the suffering, and the marginalized. Listen carefully to those whose lives exude wisdom and compassion. Let your life be filled with integrity, wholesomeness, and humility as you deal with people in the church and outside it.

Listen carefully for God’s call. It probably won’t come as a blinding light or deafening roar. Instead it will likely be an unheard inner voice that nudges and nags at you, until you respond. Don’t worry if you don’t hear it at first. Stay alert, keep an open mind, and remain connected to your brothers and sisters in the messianic community. Will everything go smoothly? Probably not. While you are waiting for that word to manifest itself to you, you will likely experience a deep sense of aloneness, isolation, even forsakenness. Hang in there! At those difficult times you will be experiencing the anguish of Yeshua. You will be bearing your cross. In Yeshua and with your sisters and brothers in the messianic community you will find comfort, encouragement, tenacity, and a listening ear. Therein is your promise and your power! Invest yourself in that durable energy and be transformed!

Mirror Yeshua

2 Corinthians 8:7-15

As a congregation you are doing well — your faith is strong, your witness is grounded, your knowledge is solid, your enthusiasm is contagious. You seem to be lacking in only one area — mirroring in your corporate life Yeshua’s concern for the poor. You might want to remind yourselves that Yeshua voluntarily chose to identify with the poor so that each one of us might have the opportunity to see what is really important in life — namely, abundance in relationships and mutuality rather than an abundance of things. It is important for you to realize that, before you can do this, you must first really want to do it. It must be a desire that resides deep within your being. So, get on with it. Let your enthusiasm for Yeshua’s Way be your guide. your nagging call. Let your eagerness support who you are as a follower of the Way lived and taught by Yeshua. Don’t worry about what you don’t have. Instead, check and see how your abundance matches up with the needs of others. I am not suggesting that you give away everything, only that there is some sense of shared equity in your relationships so that no one has too much while others have too little.

Here is My Real Family

Mark 3:20-35

Yeshua’s popularity was a mixed blessing. The crowd ascended while he was trying to eat a meal. Some were saying that he was a mad man. His family was concerned that he might react inappropriately and went to where he was dining. Yeshua had shouted to those in the crowd who were mocking him, “You consider me devilish and evil? If that be the case, how do I then help others to resist devilish evil in their lives and find the healing light of goodness?  I teach forgiveness, that even irreverence and disbelief can be forgiven. Where forgiveness is not effective, however, it is the haughty arrogance that ‘knows’ it is right and has no need of forgiveness. At this point his mother and brothers and sisters arrived. Being unable to make their way through the crowd, they called out to Yeshua. A few who close to him said, “Your family is here and they are asking for you.” “Here is my real family,” he replied, gesturing to those who sat at table with him. “Those who follow in the Way of God that I teach, they are my brothers, my sisters, and my mother.”

Where God Hangs Out

Luke 21:5-19

A group of church members were trying to outdo one another in praising their grand old church building. For them it was a place of beauty and the place where they could count on God’s presence. Yeshua happened upon them and said, “This building is just a temporary edifice, not destined to last forever.” They were shocked and asked, “How can this be? How do you know this?” Yeshua continued, “Don’t put your faith in buildings. They can lead you astray. They are like preachers who lead their flock to a mountain top to await the rapture. These are trying times – wars and rumors of war, earthquakes and hurricanes, famines and plagues, and much worse. You will find yourselves at odds with the civil authorities and probably at odds with others within the church. Let your witness in these circumstances be guided by wisdom and by your calling. That may not be satisfactory for your family and friends. Some may even hate you. But that is not the final word. If you can face this with abundant life, you will have your reward. Enjoy it, for you will have found the true temple where God hangs out!

A Frank Conversation

Mark 13:3-13

One day, Yeshua had a frank conversation about the future with four of his disciples. They were curious about the direction that Yeshua’s preaching and teaching was seemingly taking. Especially they wanted to know how they could tell that the promises of the Way and the commonwealth of peace and tender justice were actually coming into reality. Yeshua warned them about being led astray. “Empire will continue to prosper in the affairs of men and women. Empires will do battle against each other, trying to become more and more powerful. Natural disasters will also continue to occur — hurricanes, earthquakes, drought, etc. injustice in human community will continue. In fact, you may even be the victims of such injustice. Don’t try to play their games by their rules. You have no chance in those circumstances. Instead, listen for that unheard inner voice that nudges and nags you until it becomes an insistent calling. Then respond faithfully; act in the same manner as you are certain that God would act. It won’t be easy. You will be vilified, ignored, betrayed, and perhaps even arrested. Stand firm and be faithful. Your endurance will be the precursor of the commonwealth.”

A Call to Worship

Hebrews 10:19-25

We come to worship because of Yeshua. He opens our hearts and minds because of the Way he taught and lived. Let us come therefore with renewed hearts and expansive faith, abounding in a hope that does not falter. As we worship together, let us encourage one another to be agents of God’s calling in the world, making God manifest in acts of compassion, justice, and peace. This is important work that must be approached with a sense of urgency. Let us get to it!

A Bold and Faithful Response

Daniel 3:8-18

 

Nebuchadnezzar said the the three captive Jews, “‘Fess up, boys! Do you actually listen to me and my gods? I need to know. When the trumpet sounds, calling us to worship before the golden statue which I had erected, what do you do? If you worship with us, I am very pleased; if not, off the the furnace to be incinerated with the rest of the trash.” Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego responded quickly. “No worries, O King, no lies, no promises, no defense. We only listen to that which insists, that unheard inner calling, in the name of our God. Perhaps. Our deliverance has nothing to do with your practices or your furnace. If that is not clear enough for you, than try this: we will not listen to you when you try to dictate our worship, we will not listen because we know that your gods do not insist upon us, we will not worship at your golden statue, pretending that it represents reality. Do with us as you will.