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Posts Tagged ‘Bethlehem’


Christmas_BethlehemFriday, January 14, 2022

Joy and Micah

Outrage

The prophets warn, threaten, exhort, and promise us that God is always present, even though we may not recognize this presence. The Old Testament prophecies foreshadow the good news of the New Testament, and they remind us that no matter our circumstance God’s joy rescues us from sure destruction, Christ’s joy redeems us from our recklessness, and the Spirit’s joy heals us despite the gravity of our wounds.  Today we feel the outrage of the prophet Micah who challenges the rich, witnesses to the corruption and immorality of religious leaders . . . and offers hope and promise to the exploited.  

The second chapter of Micah begins: Woe to you who lie awake at night, plotting wickedness; you rise at dawn to carry out your schemes; because you can, you do. You want a certain piece of land or someone else’s house (though it is all he has); you take it by fraud and threats and violence. (2:1-2)

We do not have to wonder about the identity of Micah’s audience. A contemporary of Isaiah, little is known about him except that, “With burning eloquence he attacked the rich exploiters of the poor, fraudulent merchants, venal judges, corrupt priests and prophets”. Scholars note that although Micah delivers “reproach and the threat of punishment, [he also offers] a note of hope and promise”. (Senior 1140)

According to Micah, the Lord promises to deliver evil for evil (2:3). The Lord’s threats are for our good, the prophet tells us, to get us on the right path. (2:7) Exasperated, Micah speaks frankly: You steal the shirts right off the backs of those who trusted you, who walk in peace. You have driven out the widows from their homes and stripped their children of every God-given right. Up! Begone! This is no more your land and home, for you have filled it with sin, and it will vomit you out. I’ll preach to you the joys of wine and drink”—that is the kind of drunken, lying prophet that you like! (2:9-11)

Micah confronts evil with its own image, pointing out to those who find comfort at the expense of truth and integrity that they deceive no one by pretending that the joy they find in temporal pleasure can in any way equal the joy God offers.

Restoration is assured, Micah tells anyone who will listen. Humans will no longer train for war; each one of us might sit serenely beneath our own fig trees without fear. And who will bring this renewal? O Bethlehem Ephrathah, you are but a small Judean village, yet you will be the birthplace of my King who is alive from everlasting ages past! (5:2)

As we reflect on this Christmastide we have so recently shared, let us consider the gift of self that God brings us. And let us remember that despite his outrage . . . Micah brings us the good news of redemption, hope and promise.


For a reflection on finding Christmas in the Old Testament, click on the Bethlehem image above, or visit: http://www.pointcommunitychurch.org/2014/12/christmas-in-the-old-testament/ 

joySenior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990. 1140. Print.

If this week’s Noontimes call you to search for more ways to encounter Joy or urges you to investigate the New Testament, click on the word Joy in the categories cloud in the blog’s right-hand sidebar and choose a reflection, or enter those words in the blog search bar. 

Image from: http://www.pointcommunitychurch.org/2014/12/christmas-in-the-old-testament/

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Psalm 132: The Dwelling Place 

Bethlehem, Israel at night

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

I’m not going home,
    and I’m not going to bed,
I’m not going to sleep,
    not even take time to rest,
Until I find a home for God,
    a house for the Strong God of Jacob.

So sings the psalmist in the opening of this prayer. Might we imagine ourselves so dedicated that we do not rest until we have prepared a dwelling place for God within?

Remember how we got the news in Ephrathah,
    learned all about it at Jaar Meadows?
We shouted, “Let’s go to the shrine dedication!
    Let’s worship at God’s own footstool!”

Ephrathah, the ancient name of Bethlehem district in which Jaar Meadows, or Ya’ar Woods, was located. The psalmist taps our joy of the past and paints an image or remembrance to stir us. Might we remember a time of joy when we were eager to give thanks for God’s presence among us?

God gave David God’s word,
    God won’t back out on this promise.

We too often set up our temples in places or people we want to control. We see happiness as an end rather than a Way. Might we picture our relationship with the Spirit as God’s temple within?

God says, “This will always be my home;
    this is what I want, and I’m here for good”.

A springtime field in Haifa, Israel

We long for eternal union with God and the peace that settles into God’s temple. Might we conceive of our lives in Christ as the temple God longs to make a home?

God says, “Oh, I’ll make the place radiant for David!
    I’ll fill it with light for my anointed!

We look for stability, predictability, and safety. We want to exert external controls on an inner peace; but today the psalmist reminds us that we find lasting peace when we give over control of our dreams to God, when we surrender our fears to the Spirit, and when we joyfully prepare a holy dwelling place in our softened hearts.

I’m not going home,
    and I’m not going to bed,
I’m not going to sleep,
    not even take time to rest,
Until I find a home for God.

Might we imagine ourselves so dedicated that we do not rest until we have readied a dwelling place for God within?

Tomorrow, at times we must flee the sanctuary . . . 


These verses are from THE MESSAGE translation. When we compare other versions, we find the peace to prepare God’s dwelling place within. We find the joy to celebrate God’s promises kept. We find the gratitude to share God’s peace with others.

Enter the word dwelling into the blog search bar to explore more reflections.

Find information Jaar Meadows at: https://www.bibletools.org/index.cfm/fuseaction/Lexicon.show/ID/H3293/ya%60ar.htm and about Ephrathah at: http://bibleatlas.org/ephrathah.htm 

Images from: https://www.eggedtours.com/Bethlehem/ALL and http://meganbrand.blogspot.com/2011/04/land-flowing-with-milk-and-honey.html

To explore posts of “An American in Haifa,” click on the meadow image or visit: http://meganbrand.blogspot.com/2011/04/land-flowing-with-milk-and-honey.html

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