Bible Readings for Saturday March 5th, 2011 – The Week of The Transfiguration
*Click on each bible passage to expand the text.1. Why do the nations conspire, and the peoples plot in vain?
2. The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and his anointed, saying,
3. “Let us burst their bonds asunder, and cast their cords from us.”
4. He who sits in the heavens laughs; the LORD has them in derision.
5. Then he will speak to them in his wrath, and terrify them in his fury, saying,
6. “I have set my king on Zion, my holy hill.”
7. I will tell of the decree of the LORD: He said to me, “You are my son; today I have begotten you.
8. Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession.
9. You shall break them with a rod of iron, and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.”
10. Now therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth.
11. Serve the LORD with fear, with trembling
12. kiss his feet, or he will be angry, and you will perish in the way; for his wrath is quickly kindled. Happy are all who take refuge in him.20. Ahab said to Elijah, “Have you found me, O my enemy?” He answered, “I have found you. Because you have sold yourself to do what is evil in the sight of the LORD,
21. I will bring disaster on you; I will consume you, and will cut off from Ahab every male, bond or free, in Israel;
22. and I will make your house like the house of Jeroboam son of Nebat, and like the house of Baasha son of Ahijah, because you have provoked me to anger and have caused Israel to sin.
23. Also concerning Jezebel the LORD said, ‘The dogs shall eat Jezebel within the bounds of Jezreel.’
24. Anyone belonging to Ahab who dies in the city the dogs shall eat; and anyone of his who dies in the open country the birds of the air shall eat.”
25. (Indeed, there was no one like Ahab, who sold himself to do what was evil in the sight of the LORD, urged on by his wife Jezebel.
26. He acted most abominably in going after idols, as the Amorites had done, whom the LORD drove out before the Israelites.)
27. When Ahab heard those words, he tore his clothes and put sackcloth over his bare flesh; he fasted, lay in the sackcloth, and went about dejectedly.
28. Then the word of the LORD came to Elijah the Tishbite:
29. “Have you seen how Ahab has humbled himself before me? Because he has humbled himself before me, I will not bring the disaster in his days; but in his son’s days I will bring the disaster on his house.”9. As they were coming down the mountain, he ordered them to tell no one about what they had seen, until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead.
10. So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what this rising from the dead could mean.
11. Then they asked him, “Why do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?”
12. He said to them, “Elijah is indeed coming first to restore all things. How then is it written about the Son of Man, that he is to go through many sufferings and be treated with contempt?
13. But I tell you that Elijah has come, and they did to him whatever they pleased, as it is written about him.”
- “Let us burst their bonds asunder, and cast their cords from us.” – Psalm 2:3
- Ahab said to Elijah, “Have you found me, O my enemy?” He answered, “I have found you. Because you have sold yourself to do what is evil in the sight of the LORD, – 1 Kings 21: 20
- “But I tell you that Elijah has come, and they did to him whatever they pleased, as it is written about him.” – Mark 9:13
Admit it: a secret and dark part of your soul wishes there was no God, doesn’t it?
No, there is no use in denying it, God already knows your heart, even the secret parts.
Like a pissed-off child wishes for their parents to disappear, or worse die, we often wish we could be free of this annoyingly persistent God and God’s troublesome morality. Can’t we just live and die, with a little joy and love in between without all of this “God crap”?
This sentiment is not new, nor is it rare but it is quite common amongst believers and non-believers alike. It is the very sentiment that drove King Ahab and Jezebel to seek out affirmation and power in other religions and idols. God’s demands are too hard for most, and when the going gets tough, the believers flee to “gentler” pastures.
Worse, our distaste for God’s pleas for compassion and justice can even sprout violent upheaval within our hearts against God’s messengers. We humans do not respond well to prophets in general, and that is evidenced throughout ancient and modern history. Every prophetic figure that brought forth potent reminders of God’s desire for equity, restorative justice, compassion and grace is met not with gratitude and revelatory cheers, but with fists of anger and threats of “heresy”… and even death.
God says,”Don’t care for ‘stuff’ more than you value me or your neighbor.” But we don’t like that so we find perversions of the gospel that seem to allow for God’s “righteous” to have as much “stuff” as we want.
God says, “You have heard it said, ‘Thou shalt not kill’, but I say to you do not even be angry against your brother or sister.” But we need our vengeance and violence, so we find preachers who champion the way of the military, violence and “righteous” vengeance against those that stand against us.
God says, “Do not mistreat the foreigner within your lands.” But we can’t stand the idea of simply sharing our God-given prosperity with anyone else, so we hoard our riches to ourselves and then often violently expel the alien-poor from our borders. Then we find pastors and churches that support this heinous treatment of our neighbors and fellow children of God.
God says a lot of things we blatantly ignore or reverse for our own sakes. We are the ultimate idolaters of ourselves. We will do anything for ourselves, even give God the middle finger.
But this is not a surprise to God. God knows how awfully we will fail to live out The Way. And that’s the beauty of all this “God crap”: it’s designed to accommodate AND remedy our very selfish natures. It is a treatment and cure for the common-human, and it works wonders.
Knowing full well we instinctively fail in nearly every aspect of God’s commandments, our sins are exposed by the cross and God’s ultimate act of compassion. Knowing we are incapable of change on our own, we are saved by Grace and love. Knowing that we will need support in our recovery from our state of debilitating selfishness, God sends us the Holy Spirit to dwell within us, changing our hearts and opening our eyes from within. Finally, God leads us to the spiritual death of self, wherein we realize the folly of our natural instincts and abandon our false sense of separateness from each other and God. And in that emptiness which is created when we begin to abandon our preconceptions of who we are, something new is formed. The Christ fills us and lives in us, to act through us and in the world.
The great irony of this life is we are not really separate from God. All this “God crap” is really “our crap”, God’s annoying morality and pleas for change are really our morality and pleas. We need to stop pretending we are different, separate. We must embrace our common identity as God’s children.
And maybe, just maybe, the next prophet we see who reminds us so viscerally of God’s compassion and desire for justice won’t meet with such violent resistance and dismissal. Maybe we’ll realize the remedy has always been there and we’ll take our medicine, like a good child should.