Daily Office Thoughts, July 5, 2006

July 5, 2006

The Daily OfficeI was surprised that I didn’t have any comments yesterday on “Breaking the Law.”  I know some of you (you know who you are) have very different takes on my interpretation.  I’ll attribute it to the holiday- but I’d be interested in your feedback.  Not that I’ve necessarily got time to respond- the packing is about 3/4 done, the movers haven’t confirmed that the truck is coming, and I have to be out of the house by 5:00pm on Sunday.  The truck is supposed to be here day after tomorrow…

Anyway – I continue to love the daily office, and in my busy and wonderful life preparing for the move I can’t think of much else to write about.  So I’ll try to keep it short and sweet.  From here on out, things may get crazy so we’ll see how often I get to post until I get to Austin and get settled.

Old Testament Lesson:  Numbers 22:41-23:12

What a great lesson to apply to today’s church world.  We forget that we never have a complete view of God’s workings.  It is so easy to forget that we don’t know the whole plan.  Only a few passages back, the people of Israel thought that God was “out to get them” and were rebelling, but here we find that God, even unbeknownst to them, is working with Balaam the prophet on their behalf.  I think it is so much like I said yesterday in passing that it is like the old parable of the blind men and the elephant- we cannot see but when we describe what we are experiencing we all have a very limited view.  In this case, the Israelites think that they are forsaken.  Balaam (and even Balak) would describe it differently.  God has a very broad sense of what is going on.  We can’t forget that and apply our very limited view to the world around us.

Epistle:  Romans 7:13-25

I have really been enjoying this section of Romans this year.  It is a little hard to read without going straight through – the downside of the starts and stops of the Daily Office- but very thought provoking, I find.  I like the translation of The Message better to help through this section.  The point I get here is one of my most basic points- I haven’t had time to research the original text (will probably have to wait for seminary) but I do have some problems with Paul in this area.  People are basically good.  We have good intentions.  We want and desire to do good, which is not something that has been preached enough in the church for the past 2000 years.  Are we perfect?  No.  Do we make mistakes?  Yes.  That is why we must choose to grow.  We must choose to expand our horizons.  We must choose life in Jesus, to walk a journey with God that will allow us to grow fully into the person we are called to be.  We can never reach the destination of perfection- of sinlessness- but we can move towards the horizon, reaching for the goal.  The value is in the journey, not in reaching the destination.

Gospel:  Matthew 21:33-46

Continuing on the theme of my post from yesterday, we must pull the most unexpected people from the margins to the center of our lives.  Jesus says quite clearly here that the establishment- the religious authorities- do not have free reign to act of their own accord.  They must harvest the fruits of the vineyard.  Galations 5:22-23 gives one definition of the “Fruit of the Spirit” as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  Are our religious authorities acting in this manner today?  Or are they beating with figurative stones those who would seek to judge human behavior only by these standards?  Jesus warns over and over again the religious authorities of their over-application of rule-based judgement.  Our religious institutions today- maybe due to our own requests in our imperfection- have again risen up in rule-based judgement instead of love, joy, peace, and kindness.  We have lost the Gospel imperative that Jesus warns the religious institutions about in keeping to that which all the law and the prophets must respond to:  Do to others as you would have done to you (Matt 7:12), and Love God and Love your neighbor as yourself (Matt 22:37-40).  Jesus is pretty clear, but I don’t think the church has held to these standards.

My love of the Bible just gets deeper and deeper.  It is so clear that while there are some difficult passages that require some deep work with original text and historical context, most of it has been interpreted through the lens of exclusion, judgement, and in direct violation of “judge not lest ye be judged” by those on the fundamentalist/literalist side of the fence.  Once we break through that barrier, we are free to see it as a Holy document of love and inclusion, one of generosity, whose timeless lessons show us how to treat each other and live and love fully into the arms of Jesus the Christ.

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2 Responses to “Daily Office Thoughts, July 5, 2006”

  1. Trey Says:

    Jeff,
    Good luck on your move and good luck as you follow God’s path for you into the seminary.

    Trey

  2. Jeff Says:

    Thanks Trey! Peace to you as well.

    And, I’m relieved to tell you all that the movers finally called to say that they are, in fact, coming on Saturday, so I will be going to Austin after all…

    j


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