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Showing posts from 2018

That'll Do

On Sunday the Psalm was the famous 23rd.  I’ve heard it so many times that I never expected anything new to come wandering across the border from that hinterland, but there ya go. So, the liminal phrase is this: “Your rod and your staff they comfort me,” or as the CJB says, “your rod and staff reassure me.”
I got to thinking, “Well, just exactly how does a shepherd use a staff and a rod?” The staff is used to guide the sheep and to catch them. Traditional staffs used in the UK have horn crooks with a sharp curled tip, which I suspect is designed to catch in the fleece. The rod was essentially a club used to defend against predators, but also as a goad to correct the sheep.
I’ve never really identified with the sheep; I mean they are really not very smart and don’t have much of a survival instinct. I also have misgivings about identifying myself as the shepherd of the sheep. So, I asked myself, “What other role might I fill in the whole sheep-shepherd metaphor?” and it came to me: Shee…

All Aboard!

Psalm 37:1-18
18Adonai knows what the wholehearted suffer,
but their inheritance lasts forever.

(The NRSV has “blameless” in place of “wholehearted.”)
Exodus 20:1-21
18 (21) So the people stood at a distance, but Moshe approached the thick darkness where God was.
Colossians 1:24-2:7
5…...the disciplined and resolute firmness of your trust in the Messiah.
Matthew 4: 1- 11
“If you are the Son of God,” he said, “jump! For the Tanakh says,
‘He will order his angels to be responsible for you. . . .
They will support you with their hands,
so that you will not hurt your feet on the stones.’”

Yeshua replied to him, “But it also says, ‘Do not put Adonai your God to the test.’”

“Wholehearted”; “Blameless”— How could I ever claim that those words apply to me? But maybe there is no need to think in terms of claims; or prerogatives; or entitlements. Maybe it isn’t about ideas, or thinking, at all. Maybe this is a whole ‘nother take on Christ’s redemptive work. Maybe it’s about being entirely blameless but …

Alrighty Then

Exodus 17: 1- 16
12 However, Moshe’s hands grew heavy; so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it. Aharon and Hur held up his hands, the one on the one side and the other on the other; so that his hands stayed steady until sunset.
1 Peter 4:7-19
19 So let those who are suffering according to God’s will entrust themselves to a faithful Creator by continuing to do what is good.
John 16:16- 33
In the world, you have tsuris. But be brave! I have conquered the world!”

I got stuck on the word tsuris. It occurred to me that ‘tsuris’ is roughly equivalent to ‘dukkha’. Both the Yiddish word tsuris, and the Sanskrit word dukkha translate into English as “troubles, aggravation, discontent, suffering.” After a little bit of research to make sure I wasn’t totally off-base, I’m going to run with the idea. I have observed many threads connecting Buddhism, Judaism, Islam, and Christianity; so many that the underlying truths and expressions of understanding appear to me to be exactly the sa…

Where Are You Going?

Exodus 16: 23- 36
Bake what you want to bake; boil what you want to boil; and whatever is left over, set aside and keep for the morning.
1 Peter 3: 13- 4: 6 (The Message)
Learn to Think Like Him
4 1-2 Since Jesus went through everything you’re going through and more, learn to think like him. Think of your sufferings as a weaning from that old sinful habit of always expecting to get your own way. Then you’ll be able to live out your days free to pursue what God wants instead of being tyrannized by what you want.
John 16: 1- 15 (CJB)
“Not one of you is asking me, ‘Where are you going?’

Sometimes I have no idea why a phrase stands out. I re-read the Old Testament passage 5 or 6 times, and no other phrase stepped forward— “Bake what you want to bake; boil what you want to boil….”
At first, I heard it as “You’ll do what you want to do no matter what I say, so go ahead. Fine! Nothing I say is going to stop you.” No matter what good intentions I might have, I’m still going to go ahead and do the sam…

You Are Pruned

Exodus 15: 22- 16:10
(From 15: 26)“…...because I am Adonai your healer.”
1 Peter 2: 1- 10
(From 2: 9)“Why? In order for you to declare the praises of the One who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”
John 15: 1- 11
Every branch which is part of me but fails to bear fruit, he cuts off; and every branch that does bear fruit, he prunes, so that it may bear more fruit. Right now, because of the word which I have spoken to you, you are pruned.

Many times, in doing this practice of Lectio Divina I find that the readings serve to simply remind me of something that I already know. My inner response is then, “Oh yeah, right…. I knew that.” That’s what happened today with the phrase from the Old Testament reading, “I am Adonai your healer.” I have often experienced relief, comfort, and what can only be described as ‘spiritual repair’ in the course of my contemplative practice. I think it’s fair to describe that as “healing.” That recognition reinforces my trust that I will indeed …

Calamities Within

Psalm 5
4 (3) Adonai, in the morning you will hear my voice;
in the morning I lay my needs before you
and wait expectantly.

10 (9) For in their mouths there is nothing sincere,
within them are calamities….

1 Peter 1: 13- 25 (CJB)
13 Therefore, get your minds ready for work, keep yourselves under control, and fix your hopes fully on the gift you will receive when Yeshua the Messiah is revealed.
(From Mounce; my wording)
…set your hope completely on the grace offered to you in the manifestation of Jesus Christ
John 14:18- 31
27 “What I am leaving with you is shalom — I am giving you my shalom. I don’t give the way the world gives.
(From Mounce; my wording)
Peace I bequeath to you, my peace I entrust to you. The way I give is not the way the material world gives.
I could not find much of anything in today’s readings that contained any kind of resonance. That happens. I read over all the readings over in my usual manner, and then read them over again. Distraction and bother interfered with my equanim…

Beyond Companions

Lamentations 3:37-58
52 Those who are my enemies for no reason
hunted me down like a bird.
53 They forced me alive into a pit
and threw stones on me.

54 Water rose above my head;
I thought, “I am finished!”

55 I called on your name, Adonai,
from the bottom of the pit.
56 You heard my voice; don’t close your ear
at my sighs, at my cries.
57 You came near when I called to you;
you said, “Don’t be afraid.”

58 Adonai, you defended my cause;
you redeemed my life.

Hebrews 4:1-16 (CJB)
for Good News has also been proclaimed to us, just as it was to them. But the message they heard didn’t do them any good, because those who heard it did not combine it with trust………
12 See, the Word of God is alive! It is at work and is sharper than any double-edged sword — it cuts right through to where soul meets spirit and joints meet marrow, and it is quick to judge the inner reflections and attitudes of the heart. 13 Before God, nothing created is hidden, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of him to wh…

Keep On Practicing

1 Corinthians 15:1-11 Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)
15Now, brothers, I must remind you of the Good News which I proclaimed to you, and which you received, and on which you have taken your stand, and by which you are being saved — provided you keep holding fast to the message I proclaimed to you. For if you don’t, your trust will have been in vain.
My version, based on Mounce Reverse Interlinear:
15Also, you know perfectly well, brothers, the happy history which I declared to you; which you acknowledged, and in which you stand fast; through which you are also being set free— as long as you keep holding on to the message I told to you—unless your trust was without purpose.
1 Corinthians 15:1-11 The Message (MSG) Resurrection
151-2 Friends, let me go over the Message with you one final time— this Message that I proclaimed and that you made your own; this Message on which you took your stand and by which your life has been saved. (I’m assuming, now, that your belief was the real thing and not …


Psalm 22 (CJB— agrees with Alter)
11 (10) Since my birth I’ve been thrown on you;
you are my God from my mother’s womb.

Lamentations 3:1-9,19-33 (CJB)
25 Adonai is good to those waiting for him,
to those who are seeking him out.
26 It is good to wait patiently
for the saving help of Adonai.

27 It is good for a man
to bear the yoke from his youth.
28 Let him sit alone in silence
when he has laid it on him.
29 Let him submit absolutely;
there may yet be hope.
30 Let him offer his cheek to the one who strikes it,
and receive his fill of insults.

1 Peter 1:10-20 (CJB)
13 Therefore, get your minds ready for work, keep yourselves under control, and fix your hopes fully on the gift you will receive when Yeshua the Messiah is revealed.
John 13:36-38 (CJB)
38 Yeshua answered, “You will lay down your life for me? Yes, indeed! I tell you, before the rooster crows you will disown me three times.

My most literal rendition of the psalm, that preserves the parallelism.
“On you I was flung from the womb; from my m…

Not Picking and Choosing

Psalm 55
13 (12) For it was not an enemy who insulted me;
if it had been, I could have borne it.
It was not my adversary who treated me with scorn;
if it had been, I could have hidden myself.
14 (13) But it was you, a man of my own kind,
my companion, whom I knew well.

15 (14) We used to share our hearts with each other;
in the house of God we walked with the crowd.

Lamentations 2:1-9
Her gates have sunk into the ground;
he destroyed and broke their bars.

2 Corinthians 1:23-2:11
For if I cause you pain, who is left to make me happy except the people I have pained?
Mark 12:1-1
7 But the tenants said to each other, ‘This is the heir. Come, let’s kill him, and the inheritance will be ours!’

I started out only seeing verses that spoke literally to my current situation. They were an exact echo of my feelings. They told a story that was like my story. But then came the gospel reading. I remember reflecting on this passage from Mark once before, and wondering how those tenants could possibly have…

Answer Me

Psalm 6
3 (2) Be gracious to me, Adonai,
because I am withering away;
heal me, Adonai,
because my bones are shaking;
4 (3) I am completely terrified;
and you, Adonai — how long?
5 (4) Come back, Adonai, and rescue me!

Lamentations 1:17-22
20 “See, Adonai, how distressed I am!
Everything in me is churning!
My heart turns over inside me,
because I have been so rebellious.
Outside, the sword brings bereavement;
inside, it is like death.

2 Corinthians 1:8-22
The burden laid on us was so far beyond what we could bear that we even despaired of living through it. In our hearts we felt we were under sentence of death. However, this was to get us to rely not on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead! ****18 As surely as God is trustworthy, we don’t say “Yes” when we mean “No.” 19 For the Son of God, the Messiah Yeshua, who was proclaimed among you through us — that is, through me and Sila and Timothy — was not a yes-and-no man; on the contrary, with him it is always “Yes!” 20 For however many pr…

Down To The Roots

Mark 11:12-25
12 The next day, as they came back from Beit-Anyah (Bethany), he felt hungry. 13 Spotting in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to see if he could find anything on it. When he came up to it, he found nothing but leaves; for it wasn’t fig season. 14 He said to it, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again!” And his talmidim heard what he said.
“For it wasn’t fig season”—Jesus could not have had any realistic expectation of finding figs on the tree. (By the way, the fig tree is a symbol for the nation of Israel in Hebrew culture.)
Jesus was hungry, but it was not the season for figs. Nevertheless, he goes to the tree anyway, and when his expectation that there won’t be any fruit is fulfilled, he says, “May no one eat fruit from you again.”
I made a big jump that sort of shook me up. So, let’s try this on for size—Could this passage be about expectations? Consider the following points.
·“Jesus was hungry.”Hunger—an essential need which must be met.
·The obvious state of r…