Week of Proper 12: Thursday, Year 1   7 comments

Above:  Construction of the Tabernacle, by Gerard Hoet (1728)

Image in the Public Domain

Something Old, Something New–Yet All For God

AUGUST 1, 2019

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Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), of The Episcopal Church, contains an adapted two-years weekday lectionary for the Epiphany and Ordinary Time seasons from the Anglican Church of Canada.  I invite you to follow it with me.

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Exodus 40:17-21, 34-38 (Richard Elliott Friedman, 2001):

And it was:  in the first month, in the second year, on the first day of the month, the Tabernacle was set up.  And Moses set up the Tabernacle and put on its bases and set its frames and put on its bars and set up its columns.  And he spread the Tent over the Tabernacle and set the Tent’s covering on it above, as YHWH had commanded Moses.  And he took the Testimony and put it into ark, and he set the poles on the ark, and he put the atonement dais on the ark above.  And he brought the ark into the Tabernacle and set the covering pavilion and covered over the Ark of the Testimony, as YHWH had commanded Moses.

And the cloud covered the Tent of Meeting, and YHWH’s glory filled the Tabernacle.  And Moses was not able to come into the Tent of Meeting, because the cloud had settled on it and YHWH’s glory filled the Tabernacle.  And when the cloud was lifted from on the Tabernacle, the children of Israel would travel–in all their travels–and if the cloud would not be lifted, then they would not travel until the day that it would be lifted.  Because YHWH’s cloud was on the Tabernacle by day, and fire would be in it at night, before the eyes of all the house of Israel in all their travels.

Psalm 84 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

1 How dear to me is your dwelling, O LORD of hosts!

My soul has a desire and longing for the courts of the LORD;

my heart and my flesh rejoice in the living God.

2 The sparrow has found her a house

and the swallow a nest where she may lay her young;

by the side of your altars, O LORD of hosts,

my King and my God.

3 Happy are they who dwell in your house!

they will always be praising you.

4 Happy are the people whose strength is in you!

whose hearts are set on the pilgrims’ way.

5 Those who go through the desolate valley will find it a place of springs,

for the early rains have covered it with pools of water.

6 They will climb from height to height,

and the God of gods will reveal himself in Zion.

7 LORD God of hosts, hear my prayer;

hearken, O God of Jacob.

8 Behold our defender, O God;

and look upon the face of your Anointed.

9 For one day in your courts is better than a thousand in my own room,

and to stand in the threshold of the house of my God

than to dwell in the tents of the wicked.

10 For the LORD is both sun and shield;

he will give grace and glory;

11 No good thing will the LORD withhold

from those who walk with integrity.

12 O LORD of hosts,

happy are they who put their trust in you!

Matthew 13:47-53 (J. B. Phillips, 1972):

[Jesus continued,]

Or the kingdom of Heaven is like a big net thrown into the sea collecting all kinds of fish.  When it is full, the fishermen haul it ashore and sit down and pick out the good ones for the barrels, but they throw away the bad.  This is how it will be at the end of this world.  The angels will go out and pick out the wicked from among the good and throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be tears and bitter regret.

Have you grasped all this?

They replied,

Yes.

Jesus returned,

You can see, then, how everyone who knows the Law and becomes a disciple of the kingdom of Heaven is like a householder who can produce from his store both the new and the old.

When Jesus had finished these parables he left the place, and came into his own country.

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The Collect:

O God, the protector of all who trust in you, without whom nothing is strong, nothing is holy: Increase and multiply upon us your mercy; that, with you as our ruler and guide, we may so pass through things temporal, that we lose not the things eternal; 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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The Book of Exodus with an emphasis on Moses.  Yet, at the end, Moses does not speak.  God once spoke to Moses in the leader’s own tent.  But, in Chapter 40, there is a new Tabernacle.  The emphasis is moving away from Moses to God.  The people are not to move until the cloud of YHWH moves; they are to follow God in more way than one.

If you are reading these words, O reader, you probably agree that you ought to follow God.  But what does that mean?  Jesus, in Matthew, provides a partial answer.  The parable of the fish in the net points toward an inclusive church, one that does not take upon itself the task of labeling some fish “bad” then throwing them back.  This is a repeated theme with Jesus.  For another example, consider the Parable of the Mustard Seed.  The mustard plant, a weed really, provides shelter to a wide variety of creatures.  Think, too, about the tares and the wheat.  The weeds and the wheat must grow up together until harvest time, and God will oversee the separation.  To do otherwise would damage valuable wheat.  Chapter 13 contains these parables, too.  The grouping is not accidental.

And, Jesus continues, coming to him does not mean beginning at square one, or forgetting all that one used to be.  Transformation follows, but one brings oneself–complete with one’s knowledge, skills, and abilities–to the spiritual journey.  The old has its proper uses, just for different purposes.

I know something about transformation.  I have never had a dramatic conversion experience of the “born again” variety, as many North American Evangelicals understand it.  Nor do I seek one, for it is not necessary.  I have a long-standing relationship with God which has grown during a long process, not from an event.  My life as I knew it collapsed in late 2006 and early 2007, resulting in a traumatic crisis, a death of sorts, and a resurrection in an altered form.  My former self ceased to exist, and a new self with the same outward appearances came into the world.  I became a better person by grace alone, and those who perceived this the most were those who knew me the best.  I am a new person, but all the knowledge, skills, and core personality type of the former self carry over.

Yet there are key differences.  I am more patient and kind than before.  Leniency comes more easily to me, and I am far less likely to despise unpopular and accused people.  As a recipient of grace, which is inherently extravagant, I am more likely to extend it to others.  I have not “arrived” spiritually, but I am closer to my destination.  God is responsible for this.  I draw upon the best of the former self, as well as the unpleasantness which constituted my death-resurrection crisis, to inform the new man.

And I hope that I follow God more often than not.  May you, O reader, do the same.

KRT

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2012/04/20/something-old-something-new-yet-all-for-god/

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