Showing posts from December, 2017

Watch Out!

Luke 21:5-19
They asked him, “Rabbi, if this is so, when will these events take place? And what sign will show that they are about to happen?” He answered, “Watch out! Don’t be fooled! For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he!’ and, ‘The time has come!’ Don’t go after them.
I could be wrong, but I don’t think that Jesus ever obliged anyone who asked him for a “sign.” So, he answers the annoying request for details about what disasters might or might not happen down the road, by yelling “Watch Out!”
One more time, Jesus tells us that we’re paying attention to the wrong things!
In this case we started by admiring ourselves and our collective accomplishments, patting ourselves on the back and telling ourselves how amazing we are, and then, when Jesus tells us that all that pretty stuff will be totally ruined, we want him to tell us how we’ll be able to know when it’s about to happen. Now, why do you suppose we might want to know that ahead of time….? Could it be that we’re thinkin…

Grave Markers

Matthew 18:1-14
Woe to the world because of snares! For there must be snares, but woe to the person who sets the snare!
The Greek word translated as ‘stumbling block’ is “skandalon”. (Yes, it’s where the word “scandal” comes from.) The thing is, it’s very clear that Jesus was thinking of the prohibition in Leviticus against lifnei iver, which usually means giving bad advice to someone on purpose, but literally means to put a stumbling-block in front of a blind person. The only reason for somebody to do that would be in the expectation that the blind guy would trip and fall, and it would be funny to watch. Pretty reprehensible, yeah?
“Skandalon” literally means “trap-spring” or the mechanism holding a trap open, i.e. a trip-wire. In modern idiom, it could be translated as “booby-trap.” This is particularly apt, because boobys are docile birds and easy to catch, which is why “booby-trap” has the connotation of a trap for the unsuspecting, or innocent, victim.
Modern Jewish law has the phr…

You Cannot Come

Proverbs 8
22 Adonai made me as the beginning of his way,
the first of his ancient works.

I was appointed before the world,
before the start, before the earth’s beginnings.
24 When I was brought forth, there were no ocean depths,
no springs brimming with water.
25 I was brought forth before the hills,
before the mountains had settled in place;
26 he had not yet made the earth, the fields,
or even the earth’s first grains of dust.
27 When he established the heavens, I was there.
When he drew the horizon’s circle on the deep,
28 when he set the skies above in place,
when the fountains of the deep poured forth,
29 when he prescribed boundaries for the sea,
so that its water would not transgress his command,
when he marked out the foundations of the earth,
30 I was with him as someone he could trust.
For me, every day was pure delight,
as I played in his presence all the time,
31 playing everywhere on his earth,
and delighting to be with humankind.
John 13
33b You will look for me; …

Christmas Dinner

I don’t have much of my family left. The guardians of my family Christmas traditions have left their legacy to my niece, who now lives in the Scottish Highlands with her husband and two children, a boy and a girl. She has the collection of figures that my mother used to make her famous Christmas Tree Yard. I don’t know whether my niece puts them under the tree or not, or whether she crumples up newspaper under the cotton batting to make mountains for the skiing Santas (made of pipe-cleaners and yarn) to tumble down. That used to be my job, unpacking the little Victorian painted cardboard houses; the old mirror we used to make a skating pond; the weird little Bo Peep doll with her crook and her oddly shaped sheep; the cast metal log with the two men in raincoats sitting on it, although they always fell off—so we decided they were drunk, and left them lying on their faces if they fell off more than twice. I would begin by crumpling up newspaper into a framework to lay the “snow” on top …

A Piece of an Ear

Amos 3:12-4:5
13 “As a shepherd rescues from the mouth of a lion
a couple of leg bones or a piece of an ear;
so the people of Isra’el in Shomron (Samaria) will be rescued,
huddled under cushions in the corners of their beds.

2 Peter 3:1-10
First, understand this: during the Last Days, scoffers will come, following their own desires and asking, “Where is this promised ‘coming’ of his? For our fathers have died, and everything goes on just as it has since the beginning of creation.”
Matthew 21:23-32
27 So they answered Yeshua, “We don’t know.” And he replied, “Then I won’t tell you by what s’mikhah* I do these things.
*ordination or authority to teach

And there it is, the image of the poor bloody-handed shepherd panting and gulping down tears with his hands full of mangled body parts, along with the image of bewildered folks blinking from under the cushions they tried to hide behind.

And there it is, the image of these poor bleating lambs being driven back and forth by “sc…

A Dry Wind

Psalm 16
3 The holy people in the land are the ones who are worthy of honor; all my pleasure is in them.
Amos 5:1-17
13 At times like these a prudent person stays silent, for it is an evil time.
Jude 1-16
12 These men are filthy spots at your festive gatherings meant to foster love; they share your meals without a qualm, while caring only for themselves. They are waterless clouds carried along by the winds; trees without fruit even in autumn, and doubly dead because they have been uprooted; 13 savage seawaves heaving forth their shameful deeds like foam; wandering stars for whom the blackest darkness has been reserved forever.
Matthew 22:1-14
12 ‘Friend, how did you get in here without wedding clothes?’ The man was speechless. 13 Then the king said to the servants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, and throw him outside in the dark!’ In that place people will wail and grind their teeth, 14 for many are invited, but few are chosen.”

**Taking pleasure in the holy people. So wh…

Smashing Babies

Psalm 137
*****3 when those who had taken us captive
asked us to sing them a song;
our tormentors demanded joy from us —
“Sing us one of the songs from Tziyon!”

How can we sing a song about Adonai
here on foreign soil? ****

Remember, Adonai, against the people of Edom
the day of Yerushalayim’s fall,
how they cried, “Tear it down! Tear it down!
Raze it to the ground!”

Daughter of Bavel, you will be destroyed!
A blessing on anyone who pays you back
for the way you treated us!

A blessing on anyone who seizes your babies
and smashes them against a rock!

Micah 7:11-20
13 The earth will be desolate for those living in it,
as a result of their deeds.

18 Who is a God like you,
pardoning the sin and overlooking the crimes
of the remnant of his heritage?
He does not retain his anger forever,
because he delights in grace.

19 He will again have compassion on us,
he will subdue our iniquities.

You will throw all their sins
into the depths of the sea.

1 Peter 4:7-19
11if someone speaks, let him …