Posts Tagged ‘Leviticus’

Amos 1: Stepping into Newness

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

The Prophet Amos

Having had a bumpy week-end, I decided to spend extra reflection time with the bridge I felt rising from Leviticus.  I asked myself: To where does all of this conversion take us?  We know to whom we go . . . and usually how and why.  It is often the where that confounds us.  Today’s Noontime is from Amos, a prophecy of the first of the eighth century prophets (Amos is followed by Hosea, Isaiah and Micah).  This prophet comes away from his worldly work to follow God’s call to service and then returns to his fields, sycamore trees and herds to step back into his life.  Commentary points out that these words are direct and uncompromising” (Meeks 1356).  There is no doubting what we are to do – we are to tend to the laziness, avarice and corruption into which society always seems to sink.  There is no doubt about why we are to do this – it is the sanctity to which God calls each of us.  When we ask when we are to begin our conversion – the answer is always now; not later, not “when I have the time, energy or opportunity”.

God calls to us through Amos just as he called to the faithful millennia ago.  So what is the message we hear today?  Where are we to go to do this great work of self-conversion and kingdom building?  Amos tells us simply: We are to look to our own homes, communities, work, worship and play places . . . we are to begin . . . and then we are to take this newness in which we find ourselves into all we do, think and say.  Social injustice and religious arrogance: these are the two devils we are to combat.  We must invert these two ideas (as Jesus always does when he stands us on our heads – calling us to the margins rather than to the comfortable middle) to social justice and to religious humility.  They are the standard bearers we are to carry each day as we step out of our homes and into the world.  They are the same standards we carry into our evenings as we return home to rest and rebuild.

The words of Amos in this first chapter are frightening; he can see the approaching whirlwind and so he sends out the watchman’s alert to tend to that which is dragging us down.

The images of Amos in this first chapter are full of violent pictures; he understands that the people have built thick walls behind which they can linger in comfort and so he urges us to change our ways.

The foreshadowed events which Amos shares in this first chapter are full of ugly pictures; he feels the coming maelstrom and so he calls us to conversion . . . to sanctity.

After spending time with the laws of Leviticus, we turn to Amos to find that these rules have been twisted and manipulated until they are nearly unrecognizable.  Amos calls the people to social justice and to religious humility.  We can see the need to tend to his message; we can see the places in our lives where we can be more just and humble.

When the earth quakes, when clouds roil, when the wind blows more stiffly and brings a different scent so that we know that change is coming . . . what do we do?  Do we retreat into old habits and easy answers?  Or do we step into the difficult newness that God offers?  This is something to spend time with today.  Looking forward, when we see difficult work ahead we can become easily exhausted and ask to have the cup of sacrifice pass away from us . . . or we can allow our weary selves to sink into the constant healing hands of Christ . . . and we can greet the storm with confidence in this . . . that we are loved by an awesome and fearless God . . . who will not let us fail.

Meeks, Wayne A., Gen. Ed. HARPERCOLLINS STUDY BIBLE (NRSV). New York, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1989. Print.

Image from: http://calbyz.blogspot.com/2010_06_01_archive.html

Written on October 5, 2009 and posted today as a Favorite.

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Leviticus 24:1-9The Sanctuary Light and the Showbread

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Jesus as the Light of the World is a familiar theme to Christians which is celebrated during the Advent season.   In the Jerusalem Temple the sanctuary light served as a symbol of the presence of Yahweh and so it was important that the oil be clear – this purity ensured the burning of the lamp.  The Showbread was prepared with a particular recipe and laid out in a special fashion with frankincense; it was eaten only by the Temple priests.  Both the bread and the light served to remind the Israelites of their perpetual covenant with Yahweh.

In his homily this morning Bishop Newman referred to the habit we humans have of taking and saving photographs as we try to capture particular moments in our lives.  The custom of making scrapbooks or yearbooks to commemorate events is something we do as we conserve for later recall the goodness of certain moments or periods in our lives.  The Bishop suggested that we would do well to make spiritual scrapbooks of our lives that would serve to remind us of the goodness of God; and he asked that we reflect on today’s Psalm (103) in an intentional way: The Lord is kind and merciful . . . O, my soul, forget not all his benefits . . . he heals all ills . . . he redeems life from destruction . . . he is slow to anger and abounding in kindness . . . he does not always chide . . . he does not keep wrath forever . . . he does not requite us with our crimes . . . he crowns us with kindness and compassion.  Reading this litany of God’s goodness reminds us of Paul’s anthem to love in 1 Corinthians 13: Love is patient, love is kind . . .

Light and Eucharist – both serve as Jesus’ constant presence to us.  When we enter the church today, we find the sanctuary light burning faithfully to represent the presence of the Eucharistic bread of Christ himself.  Many religious rites call for the use of incense.  Our Judeo-Christian culture brings us these signs of God’s presence and of the presence of his eternal covenant promise to us.  We need to keep these multi-sensory symbols in mind as pages of our spiritual scrapbook.  In this way, we may find it easier to be and do good as God is and does good.  We may be able to curb our anger and be more comfortable with treating others kindly and compassionately.  We may be better able to cease judging and chiding others for their faults and crimes.

By remembering in this special way that God is Light and Sustenance, we crown others with kindness and compassion even as our loving and eternal God crowns us.  And so we pray: Good and kind God, As the Sanctuary Light and the Showbread reminded the Israelites of your fidelity and promise, let today’s sanctuary light and the Eucharistic bread remind us that . . . as the heavens are high above the earth, so surpassing is your kindness toward those who love you.  Amen. 

We will be away from the Internet for several days. Please enjoy this reflection first posted on June 27, 2011.

Image from: http://www.sacred-destinations.com/egypt/edfu/photos

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Torah: Law and Covenant

Torah being read at a Bar Mitzvah

The Fifth Day of Christmas, December 29, 2017

On the fifth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me five gold rings.

Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. Our origins and beginnings, God’s redemption and deliverance, our holiness and worship, service and work, God’s law and covenant with the people. The first five books of the Old Testament are five gold rings that we might wear on our fingers as we remember how God has acted in our lives, and has called us to a holy way of life.

We might take time today to read stories of creation and the patriarchs whose lives bring us vivid examples of how we might – or might not – respond to God’s call. On the other hand, we might want to explore the exodus story that we re-live during Lent and Eastertide each year. Some of us might be interested in the minutiae of the law or in the early Temple rites. Finally, we may want to explore the Christian perspective of these ancient Jewish scriptures because for Christians, “the Pentateuch portrays the pilgrim people waiting for the full realization of the kingdom of God.”

No matter our perspective, no matter our circumstances, these five golden rings bring us a foundation and a vision for the kingdom we know is already among us.

For more about the Torah, or Pentateuch, visit: http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/the-written-law-torah or http://www.usccb.org/bible/scripture.cfm?src=_intros/pentateuch-intro.htm

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