Bible Readings for Wednesday March 2nd, 2011 – The 8th Week of Epiphany
*Click on each bible passage to expand the text.1. Bless the LORD, O my soul. O LORD my God, you are very great. You are clothed with honor and majesty,
2. wrapped in light as with a garment. You stretch out the heavens like a tent,
3. you set the beams of your chambers on the waters, you make the clouds your chariot, you ride on the wings of the wind,
4. you make the winds your messengers, fire and flame your ministers.
5. You set the earth on its foundations, so that it shall never be shaken.
6. You cover it with the deep as with a garment; the waters stood above the mountains.
7. At your rebuke they flee; at the sound of your thunder they take to flight.
8. They rose up to the mountains, ran down to the valleys to the place that you appointed for them.
9. You set a boundary that they may not pass, so that they might not again cover the earth.
10. You make springs gush forth in the valleys; they flow between the hills,
11. giving drink to every wild animal; the wild asses quench their thirst.
12. By the streams the birds of the air have their habitation; they sing among the branches.
13. From your lofty abode you water the mountains; the earth is satisfied with the fruit of your work.
14. You cause the grass to grow for the cattle, and plants for people to use, to bring forth food from the earth,
15. and wine to gladden the human heart, oil to make the face shine, and bread to strengthen the human heart.
16. The trees of the LORD are watered abundantly, the cedars of Lebanon that he planted.
17. In them the birds build their nests; the stork has its home in the fir trees.
18. The high mountains are for the wild goats; the rocks are a refuge for the coneys.
19. You have made the moon to mark the seasons; the sun knows its time for setting.
20. You make darkness, and it is night, when all the animals of the forest come creeping out.
21. The young lions roar for their prey, seeking their food from God.
22. When the sun rises, they withdraw and lie down in their dens.
23. People go out to their work and to their labor until the evening.
24. O LORD, how manifold are your works! In wisdom you have made them all; the earth is full of your creatures.
25. Yonder is the sea, great and wide, creeping things innumerable are there, living things both small and great.
26. There go the ships, and Leviathan that you formed to sport in it.
27. These all look to you to give them their food in due season;
28. when you give to them, they gather it up; when you open your hand, they are filled with good things.
29. When you hide your face, they are dismayed; when you take away their breath, they die and return to their dust.
30. When you send forth your spirit, they are created; and you renew the face of the ground.
31. May the glory of the LORD endure forever; may the LORD rejoice in his works–
32. who looks on the earth and it trembles, who touches the mountains and they smoke.
33. I will sing to the LORD as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have being.
34. May my meditation be pleasing to him, for I rejoice in the LORD.
35. Let sinners be consumed from the earth, and let the wicked be no more. Bless the LORD, O my soul. Praise the LORD!7. Before she was in labor she gave birth; before her pain came upon her she delivered a son.
8. Who has heard of such a thing? Who has seen such things? Shall a land be born in one day? Shall a nation be delivered in one moment? Yet as soon as Zion was in labor she delivered her children.
9. Shall I open the womb and not deliver? says the LORD; shall I, the one who delivers, shut the womb? says your God.
10. Rejoice with Jerusalem, and be glad for her, all you who love her; rejoice with her in joy, all you who mourn over her–
11. that you may nurse and be satisfied from her consoling breast; that you may drink deeply with delight from her glorious bosom.
12. For thus says the LORD: I will extend prosperity to her like a river, and the wealth of the nations like an overflowing stream; and you shall nurse and be carried on her arm, and dandled on her knees.
13. As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you; you shall be comforted in Jerusalem.22. He said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat, or about your body, what you will wear.
23. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing.
24. Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds!
25. And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life?
26. If then you are not able to do so small a thing as that, why do you worry about the rest?
27. Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these.
28. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you– you of little faith!
29. And do not keep striving for what you are to eat and what you are to drink, and do not keep worrying.
30. For it is the nations of the world that strive after all these things, and your Father knows that you need them.
31. Instead, strive for his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.
- … and wine to gladden the human heart, oil to make the face shine, and bread to strengthen the human heart. – Psalm 104:15
- For thus says the LORD: I will extend prosperity to her like a river, and the wealth of the nations like an overflowing stream; and you shall nurse and be carried on her arm, and dandled on her knees. – Isaiah 66:12
- He said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat, or about your body, what you will wear. – Luke 12:22
Oil, bread and wine; symbols of the abundance of God, his gifts of love to us, and all of humankind. These are our wages as the children of God.
These three are so rich and powerful in meaning of their symbolism they are almost overwhelming to consider:
- Oil: “… to make the face shine”
Through the act of anointing the head of the high priest or king with oil, the Hebrews believed this allowed the spirit of God to come into a person. The robes of priests were consecrated with oil. Kings were crowned first with oil.In fact, it is in the root Hebrew word for “anoint” (mashach) that we derive the term Messiah (mashiach), or The Annointed One, our savior and lord, Christ (Χριστός is Greek for “the anointed“). Symbolic of the Holy Spirit, through Grace we are anointed by it and consecrated for our service to God. And so our face shines before others as an example.
- Bread: “…to strengthen the human heart”
Symbolic of the human body, the body of Christ, and the body of the church, this is the material gift of God to the world. This is the material manifestation which we can touch and see with our eyes. Embodied in God’s gift of manna to the wandering Hebrews, in his gift of his son Jesus to the world, and embodied in the daily life and work of the church on earth. Bread is also symbolic of gifts not yet realized, therefore we find the promise of The Kingdom of God and the New Jerusalem bound within the symbolism of bread. And so we are strengthened daily.
- Wine: “…to gladden the human heart”
The very symbol of Grace. Salvation poured out for all. For me, wine is one of the most emotional symbols of the three because its red color is immediately reminiscent of the price of Grace: death to self, in the death of Jesus. Blood was long the means of atonement, through ritual blood sacrifice at the Temple, the high priests would attempt to reconcile the sins of a nation to the will of God. But this fruitless endeavor lasted ritually until the 2nd temple was destroyed in 70 CE. Today, the world finds solace and good news in the final act of selflessness: God’s exemplary sacrifice for the sake of the world, for God so loved the world. And so we are gladdened.
These are the gifts, freely given to us by God, because we are God’s children, God’s beloved, too.
Through the free gift of oil, we too are anointed to work as Christ in the world, for the sake and manifestation of The Kingdom.
Through the free gift of bread, we are sustained in this effort, by community, family, and the universal church of Christ.
Through the free gift of wine, our transgressions are forgiven, and we are free to pursue justice, equity, compassion and relief for The Other, knowing we will sometimes miss the mark, and that’s okay!
These are the gifts of God’s Grace upon his children. Rejoice in them and reawaken to their meaning and power for you, and may they bring all of us peace.