Archive for the ‘Ezekiel 47’ Tag

Jerusalem a Center of Worship for All   Leave a comment

Above:  YHWH

Image in the Public Domain

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READING SECOND ZECHARIAH, PART III

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Zechariah 12:1-14:21

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Zechariah 12:1-14:21 consists of oracles that use the confusing, prophetic language of metaphor to describe how the reality of the present day of Second Zechariah will give way to the new, divine order.  The texts speak of warfare and plagues.  The texts also demonstrate familiarity with other Biblical books.  For example, Zechariah 13:1 and 14:8 allude to Ezekiel 47:1-12.  God’s decision to raise up a foolish ruler who does not care about the people then to judge that ruler (13:7-9) raises questions about divine decision-making.

There is a Davidic Messiah in Second Zechariah.  One may recall that there is no Messiah, Davidic or otherwise, in Third Isaiah.

As elsewhere in Hebrew prophetic books, God is a warrior in Zechariah 14.  At the end, God wins, of course.  Gentiles are subordinate to Jesus (as in Ezekiel 44).  Yet, contrary to Ezekiel 44 and consistent with Third Isaiah, faithful Gentiles have a role in the divine cultus.

Without getting lost in the proverbial weeds, two major points stand out in my mind:

  1. YHWH is the king in Zechariah 14.  N. T. Wright picks up on this in Jesus and the Victory of God (1996).
  2. Zechariah 14 rewrites Zechariah 8.  At the end of Zechariah 8, nations, having heard of God, make their way to Jerusalem on their own initiative.  At the end of Zechariah 14, though, survivors of the last war must come to Jerusalem, where they become devotees of God.  They serve YHWH, the regnant king on the earth.  YHWH is the king of everything at the end of Second Zechariah.

Thank you, O reader, for joining me on this journey through Second Zechariah.  The only stop left on my trek through Hebrew prophetic books is Malachi.  I invite you to complete the journey with me.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 18, 2021 COMMON ERA

PROPER 11:  THE EIGHTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST, YEAR B

THE FEAST OF BARTHOLOME DE LAS CASAS, “APOSTLE TO THE INDIANS”

THE FEAST OF ARTHUR PENRHYN STANLEY, ANGLICAN DEAN OF WESTMINSTER, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF EDWARD WILLIAM LEINBACH, U.S. MORAVIAN MUSICAN AND COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF ELIZABETH FERRARD, FIRST DEACONESS IN THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND

THE FEAST OF JESSAMYN WEST, U.S. QUAKER WRITER

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The Vision of the Temple and the Return of the Divine Presence to Jerusalem   Leave a comment

Above:  Icon of Ezekiel

Image in the Public Domain

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READING EZEKIEL, PART XVIII

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Ezekiel 40:1-48:35

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The last section of the Book of Ezekiel (40-48) contains a long vision of the return of the Divine Presence/Glory to the (Second) Temple and a transformed Judea.  One may recall that Ezekiel 1-7 and 9-11 concern themselves with the destruction of the (First) Temple and the departure of the Divine Presence to Jewish exiles in the Chaldean/Neo-Babylonian Empire.  One may recall the end of the previous chapter:

I will no longer hide my face from them once I pour out my spirit upon the house of Israel–oracle of the Lord GOD.

–Ezekiel 39:29, The New American Bible–Revised Edition (2011)

The vision that opens Ezekiel 40 provides a date–in terms of the Gregorian Calendar, April 28, 573 B.C.E.  The plethora of details regarding the future Temple (dedicated in 516 B.C.E.) can prompt the glazing over of many eyes.  Therefore, I focus on themes:

  1. Many of these details differ from those of the Tabernacle in the wilderness (Exodus 25-30 and 35-40), the First Temple (1 Kings 6-7; 2 Chronicles 3-4), and the actual Second Temple.  This is a matter upon which certain detail-oriented Jewish exegetes have fixated, to argue that Ezekiel 40:1-43:12 describes the (future) Third Temple.  However, if one does not interpret the description in 40:1-43:12 as a set of blue prints, one may recognize a description of a divinely reordered sacred space that sets the standard for the envisioned society.
  2. The separation of the sacred from the profane is complete (42:20), as in the separation of priests from non-priests (42:1-14).
  3. With the completion of the Temple, God returns to dwell in Jerusalem (43:1-12).  God’s chariot throne (Ezekiel 1-2 and 8-11) recurs.  The divine enthronement ritual resembles that of Marduk, the chief deity of the Babylonian pantheon.  God even takes over the rites of pagan deities.
  4. In 43:10-12, Ezekiel functions as the new Moses, delivering divine law to the people.
  5. Chapter 44 pertains to the roles of Levites and Zadokite priests.  One may recall that the Zadokite priests were Levitical priests who traced their ancestry back to the priesthood during the time of the Kings of Israel (pre-division) and Judah (post-division).  The chapter specifies the different functions of the Levites and the Zadokite priests.  In the new order, the rules will be different than they were during the monarchical period, we read.
  6. Consistent, with the ethos of ritual purity and impurity, God dwells among the among the people yet is remote.  Getting too close to God can prove hazardous to one’s health, especially if one is ritually impure.
  7. God is the source of life (Ezekiel 47).  Practically, even the Dead Sea becomes fresh water (47:8) because of the river of life flowing from beneath the Temple.
  8. The priests are superior to kings, called princes in the new divine order (Ezekiel 45).  The king enforces justice.  He, for example, mandates uniform weights and measures to prevent the cheating of customers.  (See Leviticus 19:35-36; Deuteronomy 25:13-16; Amos 8:5-6; Hosea 12:7; Micah 6:10-11).  Justice is a defining characteristic of God’s new order.
  9. God is central in the final vision in the Book of Ezekiel.  Each tribe–except Levi–receives an equal strip of land.  Equitability is the rule, with some interesting reversals from the past order.  For example, the descendants of Rachel and Leah, wives of Jacob, get closer to the sacred area (48:7, 23).  Within equitability, a hierarchy exists.  The purpose of that hierarchy is to protect the sanctity of the divine dwelling in the middle of the sacred area (48:14).  The priests and the Levites dwell in the central, divine allotment.
  10. Jerusalem belongs to everyone, not any one tribe (48:19).  God dwells there, after all.

After all the divine judgment in the Book of Ezekiel, divine mercy is the final word.  We read that God will act decisively and put the world right.  Then all will be wonderful.  We who live in 2021 wait for that day as much as Ezekiel and his generation did.

Thank you, O reader, for joining me on this journey through the Book of Ezekiel.  I invite you to remain by my side, so to speak, as I move along to Second Isaiah.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 5, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT ANTHONY MARY ZACCARIA, FOUNDER OF THE BARNABITES AND THE ANGELIC SISTERS OF SAINT PAUL

THE FEAST OF SAINTS GEORGE NICHOLS AND RICHARD YAXLEY, ENGLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYRS, 1589; SAINT HUMPHREY PRITCHARD, WELSH ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYR, 1589; AND SAINT THOMAS BELSON, ENGLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYR, 1589

THE FEAST OF GEORGES BERNANOS, FRENCH ROMAN CATHOLIC NOVELIST

THE FEAST OF HULDA NEIBUHR, CHRISTIAN EDUCATOR; HER BROTHERS, H. RICHARD NIEBUHR AND REINHOLD NIEBUHR, UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST THEOLOGIANS; AND URSULA NIEBUHR, EPISCOPAL THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOSEPH BOISSEL, FRENCH ROMAN CATHOLIC MISSIONARY PRIEST AND MARTYR IN LAOS, 1969

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The Kingdom of God, Part V   Leave a comment

Above:  Parable of the Unjust Steward, by Jan Luyken

Image in the Public Domain

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For the Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Year 1, according to the U.S. Presbyterian lectionary of 1966-1970

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O Lord and Master, who by thy Word hast called us to watch for thy return:

grant that when thou comest we may be found at work,  serving men in thy name.  Amen.

The Book of Common Worship–Provisional Services (1966), 126

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Ezekiel 47:1-12

Revelation 7:9-17

Luke 16:1-9

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The vision of the future in Ezekiel 47 is one of those prophecies that remains unfulfilled.  It, seemingly set after the end of the Babylonian Exile, depicts Judea as blessed by God and the Temple as sitting atop the center of creation.

That is not our reality, though.  No, we live in a world in which many Christians suffer for their faith and some of them become martyrs.  No, we live in a world in the which the Parable of the Unjust Steward makes practical sense.  That parable, for all its interpretive ambiguities, does teach a clear lesson:  One who hears the gospel must act decisively–stake everything on the Kingdom of God, present partially, with more to come.  The fully realized Kingdom of God–as the Gospel of Matthew calls it–is the Kingdom of Heaven, as Jonathan Pennington asserts.

How we–individually and collectively–live is crucial.  Do we act decisively, staking everything on the Kingdom of God?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 12, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE ELEVENTH DAY OF ADVENT, YEAR C

THE FEAST OF SAINT JANE FRANCES DE CHANTAL, FOUNDRESS OF THE CONGREGATION OF THE VISITATION

THE FEAST OF ALICIA DOMON AND HER COMPANIONS, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYRS IN ARGENTINA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS BARTHOLOMEW BUONPEDONI AND VIVALDUS, MINISTERS AMONG LEPERS

THE FEAST OF SAINT LUDWIK BARTOSIK, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR

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The Sin of Exclusionary Identity Politics   1 comment

lake-umbagog-wilderness-refuge

Above:  Umbagog Lake State Park, New Hampshire, United States of America

Image in the Public Domain

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The Collect:

Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning:

Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them,

that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of life,

which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ,  who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236

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The Assigned Readings:

Ezekiel 47:1-12

Psalm 143

John 7:14-36 (37-39)

James 2:(14-17) 18-26 or James 2:(1-10) 11-13 (14-17) 18-26 or Galatians 2:1-14 (15-21)

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Water is essential for life; one can life longer with water and without food than without water.  The preciousness of water is especially obvious in a parched and barren place.  In that context we read, from the early stage of the Babylonian Exile, a prediction of God’s recreation of the world and the restoration of the Kingdom of Judah and of worship at the Temple in Jerusalem.  The rebuilt temple will occupy the central place in creation, we read, and from beneath the new Temple will flow life-giving waters.

That vision of post-exilic paradise on earth proved to be overly optimistic, however.  Life in post-exilic Judea did not match the vision of Ezekiel 47.  Nevertheless, God had acted.  Certainly many post-exilic Jews recited Psalm 124 with gratitude.

Part of post-exilic Judaism was a renewed focus on obeying the Law of Moses.  Some, however, took this principle to legalistic extremes.  One was supposed to do no work on the Sabbath (Exodus 20:8-11), under pain of death (Numbers 15:32-36), with few exceptions.  Among these exceptions was circumcising a newborn boy on the eighth day, even if that day fell on the Sabbath (Leviticus 12:3).  Jesus healed on the Sabbath, pronounced the performing of good deeds on that day holy, and even noted the value of basic human needs, such as gathering food, permissible on that day.  He pointed to the hypocrisy of certain critics, who condemned him for healing on the Sabbath yet approved of removing valuable livestock from peril on that day.  In John 7 had Jesus committed a capital offense by healing on the Sabbath?  Some thought he had.  The poor man stoned in Numbers 15 had only gathered sticks on the Sabbath.

As James 2 reminds us, faith without works is dead and one should fulfill the law by acting according to the Golden Rule.  When I read the lection from John 7 I detect identity politics among the critics of our Lord and Savior.  I recall that they had set themselves apart from the Gentile-dominated world via their religion, with its laws and rituals.  I also detect such identity politics in the background of Galatians 2, although St. Paul the Apostle won approval for his mission to Gentiles, fortunately.

Religion should be about glorifying God, not our psyches.  It should teach us of our proper identities in God, not function as an excuse to exclude others, whom God considers insiders, wrongly.  Religion, with necessary rules, ought never to become an excuse for ignoring the commandment to act compassionately.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 9, 2016 COMMON ERA

PROPER 21:  THE TWENTY-FIRST SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST, YEAR C

THE FEAST OF SAINT DENIS, BISHOP OF PARIS, AND HIS COMPANIONS, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYRS

THE FEAST OF SAINT LUIS BERTRAN, ROMAN CATHOLIC MISSIONARY PRIEST

THE FEAST OF ROBERT GROSSETESTE, SCHOLAR

THE FEAST OF WILHELM WEXELS, NORWEGIAN LUTHERAN MINISTER, HYMN WRITER, AND HYMN TRANSLATOR; HIS NIECE, MARIE WEXELSEN, NORWEGIAN LUTHERAN NOVELIST AND HYMN WRITER; LUDWIG LINDEMAN, NORWEGIAN ORGANIST AND MUSICOLOGIST; AND MAGNUS LANDSTAD, NORWEGIAN LUTHERAN MINISTER, FOLKLORIST, HYMN WRITER, AND HYMNAL EDITOR

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Adapted from this post:

https://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2016/10/09/devotion-for-the-second-sunday-in-lent-year-d/

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Restoration IV: Grace and Restoration   1 comment

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Above:  Design Drawing for a Stained-Glass Memorial Window with St. Peter’s Mother-in-Law for Sacred Heart Chapel in Carville, Lousiana

Created by J. & R. Lamb Studios

Image Source = Library of Congress

(http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/LAMB2006001918/)

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The Collect:

Stir up the wills of all who look to you, Lord God,

and strengthen then our faith in your coming, that,

transformed by grace, we may walk in your way;

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 19

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The Assigned Readings:

Isaiah 29:17-24 (Monday)

Ezekiel 47:1-12 (Tuesday)

Zechariah 8:1-17 (Wednesday)

Psalm 42 (all days)

Acts 5:12-16 (Monday)

Jude 17-25 (Tuesday)

Matthew 8:14-17, 28-34 (Wednesday)

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Some Related Posts:

Isaiah 29:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/09/14/sixth-day-of-advent/

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2012/02/22/devotion-for-december-13-lcms-daily-lectionary/

Ezekiel 47:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2012/03/30/devotion-for-january-20-lcms-daily-lectionary/

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2010/10/28/twenty-fourth-day-of-lent/

Zechariah 8:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2012/04/11/devotion-for-january-29-lcms-daily-lectionary/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/04/16/week-of-proper-21-monday-year-1/

Acts 5:

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2010/10/29/eleventh-day-of-easter/

Jude:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2011/07/18/week-of-8-epiphany-saturday-year-2/

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2012/02/22/devotion-for-december-12-lcms-daily-lectionary/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/07/18/week-of-proper-3-saturday-year-2/

Matthew 8:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2010/12/14/week-of-proper-7-saturday-year-1/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2010/12/16/week-of-proper-8-wednesday-year-1/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2013/05/01/devotion-for-october-4-lcms-daily-lectionary/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2013/05/01/devotion-for-october-5-lcms-daily-lectionary/

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Why are you so full of heaviness, O my soul,

and why are you so disquieted within me?

O put your trust in God;

for I will yet give him thanks,

who is the help of my countenance, and my God.

–Psalm 42:6-7, The Book of Common Prayer (2004)

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The theme of restoration unites all these readings.

National restoration is one thread running through some of the lections.  The Babylonian Exile will come.  Before that Jerusalem will survive an Assyrian siege.  But Jerusalem will fall one day.  And restoration will follow.  As Gordon Matties wrote in the introduction to Ezekiel in The New Interpreter’s Study Bible (2003), God will deal with evil decisively, destroy the Temple and purify the land

polluted by Israel’s economic injustice, violence, and idolatry,

and only then

take residence again among the people.  (page 1154)

Thus restoration will be to a condition better than the previous one.  The strong arm of God will accomplish this.  And such extravagant grace will impose certain responsibilities upon the redeemed; they are to be a light to the nations, living for God’s glory and the benefit of others, not their own selfish desires.

Speaking of the glory of God and the benefit of others…..

Healings in the Bible restored the healed to wholeness in society.  The ritually unclean were pure again, the economically marginalized could cease from begging or avoid slavery, etc.  Yet sometimes the community, which defined itself in opposition to the marginalized, disapproved of the healing of the marginalized.  Who were they now that the marginalized person was in his right mind?  Pure compassion disrupted the status quo ante.  Such people should have heeded timeless advice (not yet written in these words at the time of the incident):

…keep yourselves in the love of God…..

–Jude 21a, The New Revised Standard Version

That advice merely rephrased an already ancient ethos.  That advice owed much to the Law of Moses, with its myriad rules regarding compassion for members of one’s community.  For how we think and treat those whom we can see indicates much about how we think of and behave toward God.  Those around us are the least of our Lord and Savior’s brothers and sisters; as we treat them, we do to him.

Those are challenging words, for we humans tend to like to think of ourselves as good people who do good things, especially when we are plotting or committing bad deeds.  A villain probably does not see a villain when he or she looks into a mirror.  Yet reality remains unchanged by human delusions.

Advent is about preparing for God to act.  When God acts God might overturn our apple cart and/or neutralize the pattern according to which we define ourselves.  Yes, grace can prove very upsetting and disturbing sometimes.  Every time it does so, that fact speaks ill of those who take offense, does it not?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 3, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF HENRY THOMAS SMART, ENGLISH ORGANIST AND COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF ELIZABETH FERRARD, ANGLICAN DEACONESS

THE FEAST OF SAINT ELIZABETH OF PORTUGAL, QUEEN

THE FEAST OF JOHN CENNICK, BRITISH MORAVIAN EVANGELIST AND HYMN WRITER

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Adapted from this post:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2013/07/03/devotion-for-monday-tuesday-and-wednesday-after-the-third-sunday-of-advent-year-a-elca-daily-lectionary/

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Inclusion, Foreigners, and God (II)   1 comment

Above:  The Persian Empire in 500 B.C.E.

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Blessed Lord, who caused all holy scriptures to be written for our learning:

Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them,

that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life,

which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ;

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236

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The Assigned Readings:

Ezekiel 47:1-14, 21-23

Psalm 67 (Morning)

Psalms 46 and 93 (Evening)

Romans 9:19-33

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A Related Post:

Ezekiel 47:

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2010/10/28/twenty-fourth-day-of-lent/

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But suppose that God, although the time he wanted to reveal his retribution and demonstrate his power, has with great patience gone on putting up with those who are the instruments of his retribution and designed to be destroyed; so that he may make known the glorious riches ready for the people who are the instruments of his faithful love and were long ago prepared for that glory.  We are that people, called by him not only out of the Jews but with the gentiles too.

–Romans 9:22-24, The New Jerusalem Bible

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This land you shall divide for yourselves among the tribes of Israel.  You shall allot it as a heritage for yourselves and the strangers who reside among you, you have begotten children among you.  You shall treat them as Israelite citizens; they shall receive allotments along with you among the tribes of Israel.  You shall give the stranger an allotment within the tribe where he resides–declares the Lord GOD.

–Ezekiel 47:21-23, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures

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What a difference a day makes!  In the previous day’s entry in this series (http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2012/03/26/devotion-for-january-19-lcms-daily-lectionary/) I wrote of the exclusion of Gentiles from parts of the rebuilt Temple.  Some foreigners had joined the Jews and lived among them, living according to the covenant and embracing monotheism.  Yet they were to be excluded from parts of the Temple complex.  Nevertheless, in Ezekiel 47:21-23, those same foreigners were to receive the same rights of citizenship as Jews and to have the same land rights.  I sense a double standard.

Paul wrote that the faithful people of God included Jews and Gentiles.  In Christ, he wrote elsewhere, the barriers of hostility between the two groups cease to exist.  Recently, over lunch, a friend and I discussed Paul’s inclusive view of Christian identity (transnational and transethnic) and how, for many people in the non-Western world, the sense of Christianity is quite different.  For many of them Christianity and Western civilization are linked closely.  This hinders the spread of Christianity where anti-Western sentiments are widespread.  That is most unfortunate.

Christ is universal.  May we who claim his name act according to that truth.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 30, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN CLIMACUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK

THE FEAST OF SAINT INNOCENT OF ALASKA, RUSSIAN ORTHODOX MONK

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOAN OF TOULOUSSE, AND SAINT SIMON STOCK, CARMELITE FRIAR

THE FEAST OF KARL RAHNER, ROMAN CATHOLIC THEOLOGIAN

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Adapted from this post:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2012/03/30/devotion-for-january-20-lcms-daily-lectionary/

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Posted October 5, 2012 by neatnik2009 in Ezekiel 42-48, Psalm 46, Psalm 67, Psalm 93, Romans 9

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Restoration II   1 comment

The Ruins of the Bethsaida (a.k.a. Bethesda or Bethzatha) Pool

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Collect and lections from the Episcopal Lesser Feasts and Fasts Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints

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Follow the assigned readings with me this Lent….

Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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Ezekiel 47:1-12 (TANAKH: The Holy Scriptures):

He [the Lord GOD] led me back to the entrance of the Temple, and I found that water was issuing from below the platform of the Temple–eastward, since the Temple faced east–but the water was running at the south of the altar, under the south wall of the Temple.  Then he led me out by way of the south wall of the Temple.  Then he led me out by way of the northern gate and led me around to the outside of the outer gate that faces in the direction of the east; and I found that water was gushing from [under] the south wall.  As the man went on eastward with a measuring line in his hand, he measured off a thousand cubits and led me across the water; the water was ankle deep.  Then he measured off another thousand and led me across the water; the water was knee deep.  He measured off a further thousand and led me across the water; the water was up to the waist.  When he measured yet another thousand, it was a stream I could not cross; for the water had swollen into a stream that could not be crossed except by swimming.

Do you see, O mortal?

he said to me; and he had led me back to the bank of the stream.

As I came back, I saw trees in great profusion on both banks of the stream.

This water,

he told me,

runs out to the eastern region, and flows into the Arabah; and when it comes into the sea, into the sea of foul waters, the water will become wholesome.  Every living creature that swarms will be able to live wherever this stream goes; the fish will be very abundant once these waters have reached there.  It will be wholesome, and everything will live wherever this stream goes.  Fishermen shall stand beside it all the way from En-eglaim; it shall be a place for drying nets; and the fish will be of various kinds [and] most plentiful, like the fish of the Great Sea.  But its swamps and marshes shall not become wholesome; they will serve to [supply] salt.  All kinds of trees leaves will not wither nor their fruit fail; they will yield new fruit every month, because the water for them flows from the Temple.  Their fruit will serve for food and their leaves for healing.

Psalm 46:2-8 (TANAKH: The Holy Scriptures):

God is our refuge and stronghold,

a help in trouble, very near.

Therefore we are not afraid

though the earth reels,

though mountains topple into the sea–

its waters rage and foam;

in its swell mountains quake.

There is a river whose streams gladden God’s city,

the holy dwelling-place of the Most High.

God is in its midst, it will not be toppled;

by daybreak God will come to its aid.

Nations rage, kingdoms topple;

at the sound of His thunder the earth dissolves.

The LORD of hosts is with us;

the God of Jacob is our haven.

John 5:1-18 (The New Testament in Modern English–Revised Edition):

Some time later came one of the Jewish feast-days and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.  There in in Jerusalem near the sheep-pens a pool surrounded by five arches, which has the Hebrew name of Bethzatha.  Under these arches a great many sick people were in the habit of lying; some of them were blind, some lame, an some had withered limbs.  (They used to wait there for the “moving of the water,” for a certain times an angel used to come down into the pool and disturb the water, and then the first person who stepped into the water after the disturbance would be healed of whatever he was suffering from.)  One particular man had been there ill for thirty-eight years.  When Jesus saw him lying there on his back–knowing that he had been like that for a long time, he said to him,

Do you want to get well again?

The sick man replied,

Sir, I haven’t got anybody to put me into the pool when the water is all stirred up.  While I’m trying to get there somebody else gets into it first.

Jesus said,

Get up, pick up your bed and walk!

At once the man recovered, picked up his bed and began to walk.

This happened on a Sabbath day, which made the Jews keep on telling the man who had been healed,

It’s the Sabbath; it is not right for you to carry your bed.

He replied,

The man who made me well was the one who told me, “Pick up your bed and walk.”

Then they asked him,

And who is the man who told you to do that?

But the one who had been healed had no idea who it was, for Jesus had slipped away in the dense crowd.  Later Jesus found him in the Temple and said to him,

Look: you are a fit man now.  Do not sin again or something worse might happen to you!

Then the man went off and informed the Jews that the one who had made him well was Jesus.  It was because Jesus did such things on the Sabbath day that the Jews persecuted him.  But Jesus’ answer to them was this,

My Father is still at work and therefore I work as well.

This remark made the Jews all the more determined to kill him, because not only did he break the Sabbath but he referred to God as his own Father, so putting himself on equal terms with God.

The Collect:

O God, with you is the well of life, and in your light we see light: Quench our thirst with living water, and flood our darkened minds with heavenly light; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

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This day’s readings concern restoration.

The lesson from Ezekiel tells of a vision of an ideal future.  In the refurbished Holy Land a stream from beneath the Temple will flow from Jerusalem, become a mighty river, and restore life in the desert.  People will even be able to fish from the Dead Sea.  I perceive echoes of the mythic waters of creation from Genesis.  Only this time we have waters of new creation.

This is not “Jesus-and-Meism,” in the style of overly individualistic and narcissistic, the world may go to Hell in a hand basket but I don’t’ care because I will go to Heaven, Fundamentalism.  No, this is a vision of society-wide restoration.  Echoes of this theme are evident in the psalm.

(Note:  Just in case anyone thinks nobody believes in the style of Fundamentalism I have described, I point to conversations I have had in which people have embraced that style of religion.  It seems to make them feel good, but it does nothing for anybody else.)

In the reading from the Johannine Gospel Jesus heals a who has been in a desperate physical, emotional, and spiritual state for many years.  He does this on the Sabbath.  Jesus restores the man to wholeness in every way, especially spiritual, hence the caution against sin.

In Jewish law of the time people with certain physical disabilities and deformities were forbidden from entering parts of the Jerusalem Temple complex.  So Jesus restored the man to dignity in his society.

In the context of the new healing, the complaint about the man carrying his pallet on the Sabbath is petty.  It reveals the spiritual brokenness of those who uttered that statement.

Some words about the use of “the Jews” in the Gospel of John are necessary.  In other Gospels Jesus confronts scribes, Pharisees, Sadducees, and Temple lawyers.  In John, however, he is at odds with “the Jews.”  These are not all Jews, just the individuals at odds with Jesus at the time.  The Johannine Gospel dates to a time when Jewish-Christian relations had become vitriolic.  So, once again, I caution against anti-Semitism.

Very few people live in true isolation.  So restoration of an individual affects others–friends and family members, at least.  Therefore to restore one man or woman is to create a ripple effect, as when one throws a stone into water.  When the ripples cross our path, may we be sufficiently sensitive not to complain about trivia.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 1, 2010 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT MAXIMILLIAN OF TREVESTE, ROMAN CONSCIENTIOUS OBJECTOR

THE FEAST OF SAINT DAVID OF WALES, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF MENEVIA

THE FEAST OF GIROLAMO FRESCOBALDI, COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF SAINT THEOPHANES THE CHRONICLER, DEFENDER OF ICONS

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Adapted from this post:

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2010/10/28/twenty-fourth-day-of-lent/

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Posted February 13, 2012 by neatnik2009 in Ezekiel 42-48, John 5, Psalm 46

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