Tag Archives: Bible

12 Days of Christmas: Day 4

Merry Christmas!

Last evening Best Dude & watched the second part of Christiane Amanpour’s special_ Back To The Beginning_ This two-hour program took viewers through the highlights of the Book Of Exodus in Hebrew Scriptures…from Moses all the way to King Solomon.

I loved the videography— there were some incredible video shots of Mount Sinai during the ” Moses” segment. I did not realize how arduous climbing Sinai really is for the average person. The revelation of the challenging course that is Sinai does not deter me from wanting to climb it, as I’ve wanted to do so since reading Bruce Feiler’s book _Walking The Bible_.

Since I’ve completed three of the four years of the Edation for Ministry program tha is offered by the Episcopal church, watching this program brought back much of the knowledge I had gleaned from Year One of EfM . I remember studying about all those places that the progrm covered , including the misdeeds of King David. Maybe i is because I learn best using my sene fsight, but seeing such imges at the Wailin Wall & watchng Ms Amanpour, her 12-yea-old son & e camera crew actuallyalk up Mount Sinai fascinated me.

Well done ABC News! :O)

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” In the Beginning…..

Anyone who knows me at all knows that I am both a Biblical history buff and a HUGE fan of Ms Christiane Amanpour’s work. So, when found out that ABC News will air a two-part documentary on the Biblical history of Genesis, I internally shouted ” BOOYAH”.

The photography was amazing & Best Dude & I learned a lot.

I know a lot of people think Christiane Amanpour is an anti-American Muslim. This is not the case, she even stated that she is a Christian { Roman Catholic} with persian heritage on her father’s side who ALSO happens to be married to an American Jew{ Jamie Rubin} I’ve been a fan of her work for years { actually it is her work as an international correspondent that inspired me to study journalism in college} & generally watch all of her special reports.

Another interesting aspect of _In the Beginning_ is that Ms Amanpour took her 12-year-old son, Darius, along with her when she travelled around the world for this special. She hopes to , by showing people the common history that Christians, Jews & Muslims sar, that this report might spark some interfaith dialog among the three Abrahamic faith traditions.

I thought it was great how Bruce Fieler was also interviewed extensively for this report. Years ago I read Fieler’s books _ Walking The Bible_ & _Abraham_ I highly recommend both of these ooks…the author does an excellent job of writing these nonfiction tomes to read like an adventure novel. :O)

Ms Amanpour’s documentary ” flowed” like a good movie. The theme of it seems { so far, as Part Two airs next week} to be that all three faiths share much more than we realize and that we’re all People of The Book.

I am a child of interfaith parents { Christian & Jewish} & am sick of all the interfaith violence . In my opinion, all these ” holy wars” are & have ben fueled by misunderstandings among the three monotheistic faiths. My Jewish heritage has never undermine my Christin faith— in many ways it has enhanced what I believe as a Christian. I’m not too familiar wih mainline Islam, but I try not to pre-judge Muslims when I hear of acts of violence committed in tha name of God.

We are ONE IN THE SPIRIT!
Amen.

Day 5: What is an ” Abomination?”

Last night I read all of Ezekiel Chapter 8. I’d seen several hash-tag references to this Scripture in several GC deputies’ Twitter feeds, so I satisfied my curiosity with Scripture.

One word that caught my attention as a read & re-read this chapter in the OT was “abomination” I lost count of how many times that the author used that word to describe the ancient temple rituals of the Israelites.

Words are powerful and very subjective.

Even back in OT times, what one group { or individual} considered an ” abomination” might be standard practice for another group. For instance, the author in Ezekiel called the temple rituals used by the Israelites at that time & place” abominations” I noticed that the use of incense was cited in this chapter as ” An abomination” in the eyes of God. I TOTALLY disagree with tis statement— as a high Church Anglo-Catholic the use of images & incense is part of my spiritual heritage. But even now, some Protestant Christians see using incense in worship as { at best} a detractor.

Anyhow, my thoughts ” from the pew” during this General Convention are that we need to remember that words carry loaded meanings. What one person’s ” abomination” is might be someone else’s normalcy. I agree that some behaviors & actions that humans are capable of ARE an abomination. { for instance , murder, rape & other sich violent crimes} Someone else’s different preference for ANYTHING that does not cause harm to others} is really none of my business.

One of the pet peeves I carry concerning all Church conventions is that such meetings tend to polarize attendees { and those of us at home in the pews] in such a way that threatens the unity of our Church. While I admit to my tendency to *always* think that my views on pretty much everything are * correct* I make it a practice to tolerate others’ views. tolerance & unity remain my hope and prayer fo this 77th Convention of The Episcopal Church.

Amen.

Gentiles are Welcome here….

{ Mark 24-37}

We read a lot in the Gospels about the relationship between Jews & Gentiles. Apparently the two groups did not like each other much.

Today’s Gospel, once again, has Jesus working against the ” norm” . He is Jewish, yet when the Gentile woman came to Him for healing of her daughter, he looked beyond the cultural difference between ” His” people ” those” Gentiles.

American politics is messed up, in my opinion, because too many people only want to advance the agenda of “their” people Rather than work together to try to accomplish what is best for our great nation as a whole, politics as it is now focuses of divisions & not what unites.

This is an election year, so the media are throwing politics into my face. I am sick of it. Inasmuch as I am a CNN junkie, dring election years I keep the TV news off as much as possible. I. Hate. Politics!

Each election cycle wearies me of bickering between Republicans & Democrats. Even if I did claim an affinity with one of the two major political parties{thanks be to God, I do not!} all the ” us versus them” mentality of American politics is tiresome.

In the time in which Jesus lived, Gentiles & Jews shared nothing in common but the land where they lived. But He taught unity in a diided cultre &we can gleam much from that lesson now.

Amen.

Who will stop the rain?

“And I wonder/still I wonder/ Who will stop the rain?” ~ CCR

Seriously though, today’s Gospel lesson has Jesus & His disciples in the middle of a storm at sea.

Ever since I’ve lived in Northwest Florida, I’ve been acutely aware of the power of moving water. Unless one has been through at least one hurricane, one really has no clue how destructive this otherwise life-giving chemical compound that we know as * water* can become.

I bet those disciples were scared during that storm. They were in an open sailing vessel in the middle of the sea. Wind & rain were everywhere & those waves were huge! And to make matters worse,their rabbi is SLEEPING through this storm.

Pay careful attention to what Jesus says to His disciples after he calms the stormy sea.

He says: “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?”

All of us face occasional ” storms” of some sort in life. It is never always”smooth-sailing ” . But we, like the first followers of Our Lord Jesus Christ, ned to remind ourselves that JESUS is the One on Whom we can count on to steer or lives safely through metaphorical and literal stormy weather.

Thanks be to God.

You with ears–LISTEN!

Today’s Gospel lesson is the beginning of the series of parables that Our Lord teaches.

Parables are not meant to be taken literally, and I am often amazed at how many of our sister & other Christians interpret these stories

After all, in today’s Gospel, Jesus tells His disciples: “Let anyone with ears listen.” We are supposed to glean something from within the parables, bot necessarily * just* by looking at these passages at face-value.

Listen. What do these parables say to YOU.

Amen.

Don’t be a mule!

I love how the Spirit works through the lectionary.

And no, for once I am sincere and not sarcastic.

The Psalms, especially, are wonder-full especially since he poetry found here covers every human emotion felt we humans.

Part of the Truth { capital T} of God’s Word as revealed in Holy Scriptures is in its universality

This afternoon When I was reading the lectionary & came upon the first Psalm listed for today, te word ” FORGIVENESS” caught my attention.

Forgiveness isn’t easy for me. Sadly, I can hold grudge & often I do. But the Psalmist says

“Do not be like a horse or a mule, without understanding,
whose temper cannot be curbed with bit & bridle”

OUCH!

Have you ever heard of the expression * Stubborn as a mule*? Yep, I’m the proverbial mule. When I am wronged, I hold on to my indignation forever.

I pray for forgiveness for my own sins but I also pray for the grace to forgive others more easily.

Worst week ever.Thanks Mr President!

Wow….what a lousy week. I feel helpless. And trust me, helplessness is NOT a feeling to which I take to naturally.

The local newspaper did a special ” above -the-fold feature article on the life & death of the young Army officer  & native of my community who was killed { along with several others} in Afghanistan.

Sometimes I forget that most Americans don’t realize that there IS a real war over there in the Middle East. I live in a community that is populated by many active-duty & retired military personnel & we  DO NOT forget our service people, past & present.

But I fear that this isn’t the case in most parts of this great nation. All most people see is what the mainstream media wants us to see regarding the wars in the Middle East. Unless you live in a military-infused community as I do, it is easy to forget that these are REAL men & women in danger fighting for our nation.

I am angry.

My anger is directed at our President  * and* our Congress. They are the ones to blame for perpetuating this war. In my opinion, the war should have been over { and ALL our troops brought home} after those brave Navy SEALS killed Osama bin Laden. If the President would have kept his promise to really bring our people home in a timely matter, then all these brave soldiers needed not make the ultimate sacrifice .

Yes, these  Muslim extremists hate America & our way of life. But what I want to ask the President now is: How many more American lives will we lose trying to fight this  deadly enemy that  DOES NOT want a civilization like ours.  Maybe it isn’t very Christian of me, but I’m tired of this ” Losing war on a foreign shore” & really don’t care anymore about the Afghanis under the Taliban.

Memo to Mr President & the ” Country-Club Congress:

His name was Matt & he was 22 years old. No parents should have to outlive a child, but especially when said child dies on a foreign shore in a losing war. Matt was a hero.  Our politicians are the cowards. This is not a video game. Real lives are lost… so many were lost already. If you love this nation & REALLY support the troops, bring them home.

My Dad was injured in Vietnam & my boyfriend was also in combat in Vietnam. I love my nation & her troops. Don’t you DARE  say I am not patriotic!  I’m a patriotic person  ho has read history & knows  why the conflict in Vietnam lasted so long.

Yeah, I am angry. I feel like Moses must have felt when he pleaded to Pharoah to LET MY PEOPLE GO! Amen.

Modern-day “Deborahs”

On Saturday I attended a womens’ contemplative retreat at my church. The topic was ” Womens’ Places in the Church”. 

Naturally I came away from this time away with much” food for thought”. I am unapologetic about my feminist views.

Men listened to Deborah!

The first lessons/meditations were lessons from Paul & the Pauline writers.  Naturally these passages touched a nerve with me & every other woman in attendance.  EFM has taught me a lot about the times & politics of Paul’s writings, I still cringe when I hear or read some of his misogynist words. 

The next set of Scriptures given to us at this retreat  revolved around some passages from the Hebrew Bible that puts women in positions of power and/or leadership. We read & meditated on the stories of Deborah, Esther & Abigail. 

Since I’m of good Jewish stock on Mom’s side of the family, I grew up with the stories of Deborah & Esther. Both women show leadership skills.   In all honesty, I do nor recall Mom telling me much about Abigail, but the other two are very familiar to me.

I am blessed with many women who take a cue from Deborah’s leadership style. She did not let her gender stop her from doing what it was that God asked of her. Although Scripture does not record anyone questioning her leadership skills, human nature dictates that not all of her army would have been happy following a woman into battle.

I owe a debt of gratitude to the many examples of strong women in my life & I am grateful for their leadership & examples. These women are found in my parish, my Diocese & The Episcopal Church.  Several of these women wear the clerical collar, but most are laywomen like me.  These modern-day ” Deborahs” get God’s work done and may of them { especially my ” collared chick” friends } still face gender discrimination every day. I find it sad that women in the Church of England still are not seen as called to the episcopate. { remember  ” Mitregate” during the last Lambeth, anyone?}

 Why do some people {even other women} fear womens’ ordaination & even seem to want to limit the ministries of  laywomen? They claim that Jesus was a man{ He was} and that St Peter is the ” rock upon which I will build the Church”. I am not negating the important roles of St  Peter & the disciples but I take great umbrage with the theological positions of social conservatives who want to use Holy Scripture to keep women oppressed by teaching girls that they ” must keep silent in Church.”

Deborah was a priest & a judge to whom men LISTENED to in times of war.  Scripture does not tell us that anyone argued with Deborah’s battle plans; they trusted her  leadership.  She not only came up with the battle plan, she went with her army & saw the plan to completion. She was called by God to lead  in that time & place & I am convinced that the strong women leaders I know are also called by God.

Psalm 143:10

This morning as I was rustling around some stuff in my bedroom searching for things that I need to bring to the church for Sunday School 2011, I came across a poster with the Scripture quote from Psalm 143. It goes something like this:

“You are my God. Show me what you want me to do.” Psalm 143:10.

All summer I’ve been prayerfully discerning what God wants from me this small verse from the Psalms REALLY impacted me this morning. I literally had to stop & text my Facebook status update to reflect this quote from Psalm 143. ( usually I frown upon proof-texed quotations from Holy Scripture as FB statuses]

Sometimes God speaks by leading us into fulfilling a need in a particular faith community. This has been the case with me & my Christian Education ministry: I felt strongly called to take the Christian Education position at my parish in part because it was needed. During the course of this past school year I’ve discovered that I totally enjoy serving God in this capacity.

The same is true with my new ministry as acolyte during the early Sunday Mass at church. Willing & able acolytes were needed, especially for the early Mass & I , on a leap of faith, took the training. As I assisted our priest that first Sunday, I realized that I felt an overwhelming sense of peace & joy while assisting at the altar.{ and yes, even though I’m not by far a ” seasoned” acolyte yet, I am more comfortable already while serving in this role}

This means that I cannot serve in a longterm ministry with which I’ve been involved with since I was 6 years old: th choir. There simply isn’t enough “Sarah Beth” to go around on a Sunday morning. Plus, I’ve discovered the unexpected joy of serving as an acolyte …and also feel I need to attend mainly the early Mass with Best Dude. While I will miss singing in the parish choir, I am confident that I am doing what God wants me to do, at least for now.