It’s Easter season. As is my practice, I’ve posted the Year A and Year B Easter Mixtapes to aid in your personal reflection and celebration in this season. You can find them at the link above or just click here:
This is part of our Lent series, “The Weeping Word“, where we look at different moments of crying, lament, and tears in the Scriptures.
To Timothy, my beloved child…
I am grateful to God—whom I worship with a clear conscience, as my ancestors did—when I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day. Recalling your tears, I long to see you so that I may be filled with joy. (2Tim1.2-4)
Next week is Holy Week, the high (or low?) point of Lent, leading to the crescendo of Easter. It will be a time of darkness, reflection, lament, and meditation. But we’re not there yet. Before the seriousness of Holy Week arrives, I thought I’d share with you a funny memory that’s connected to our Lent series on tears in the Bible.
I was sitting in the little campus ministry Bible Study my junior year of college. Our style of Bible Study was simply sitting down with an eloquent, wise, and gifted pastor, and then walking verse-by-verse through a given book of the Christian Scriptures.
Having just finished nearly a year in the book of Romans, we were just starting our next book: 2 Timothy. Many scholars believe it was Paul’s last letter he wrote before he died. And he wrote it to the man he mentored more than any other we know about: Timothy, a young elder at the church in Ephesus who was still struggling to get this little church plant off the ground.
Peter said to him, “Though all become deserters because of you, I will never desert you.” Jesus said to him, “Truly I tell you, this very night, before the cock crows, you will deny me three times.” Peter said to him, “Even though I must die with you, I will not deny you.” And so said all the disciples.
What?! All the disciples said this?! Why does Peter always get the shaft on this?
But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” He said, “I will be with you; and this shall be the sign for you that it is I who sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall worship God on this mountain.”
Haha. God pretty much says, “this will be the sign that I am right. When everything I’m saying ends up happening”. And so Moses’ assurance in the moment is a promise for the future.
This is my 1,000th post. Thank you all for the chance to write this blog these past (almost) 10 years. It has grown me in countless ways. It took seven and half years to get to 500 posts, and less than two more to double that. Here’s to 2,000. Thanks for the encouragement, commenting, and criticism. It means a lot. Really.
As is my custom, here is your blog milestone dancing video:
Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian; he led his flock beyond the wilderness, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God.
Moses was the shepherd of his father’s flock? You don’t say… Foreshadowing, anyone?
When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away; the eunuch saw him no more, and went on his way rejoicing. But Philip found himself at Azotus, and as he was passing through the region, he proclaimed the good news to all the towns until he came to Caesarea.
What the heck? This happens and the eunuch just goes on his merry way? This is unlike most things in the book of Acts.
Yet the Most High does not dwell in houses made with human hands; as the prophet says,
‘Heaven is my throne,
and the earth is my footstool.
What kind of house will you build for me, says the Lord,
or what is the place of my rest?
Did not my hand make all these things?’
“You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you are forever opposing the Holy Spirit, just as your ancestors used to do. Which of the prophets did your ancestors not persecute? They killed those who foretold the coming of the Righteous One, and now you have become his betrayers and murderers. You are the ones that received the law as ordained by angels, and yet you have not kept it.”
Notice how Stephen does a few things here in this turn.
- He skips the history of Israel that includes the Divided Monarchy, Exile, Return, Intertestamental Victories and and Sorrows, and the establishment of the Jewish state under Roman Rule.
- He jumps straight from the temple to their Rejection of Jesus. This could be Jesus’ connection as a New Temple among us, it could highlight Israel’s inordinate obsession with the temple, even unto the rejection of their Messiah, or it could be a reference to the charges they brought against Jesus to get him crucified: blasphemy against the temple.
But Herod the ruler, who had been rebuked by him because of Herodias, his brother’s wife, and because of all the evil things that Herod had done, added to them all by shutting up John in prison.
Ohh, that’s a nice literary turn of phrase. “Speaking of all the evil things he had done, he added to them by imprisoning John.”
After we had reached safety, we then learned that the island was called Malta. The natives showed us unusual kindness. Since it had begun to rain and was cold, they kindled a fire and welcomed all of us around it…. Now in the neighborhood of that place were lands belonging to the leading man of the island, named Publius, who received us and entertained us hospitably for three days…. They bestowed many honors on us, and when we were about to sail, they put on board all the provisions we needed.
Three months later we set sail on a ship that had wintered at the island, an Alexandrian ship with the Twin Brothers as its figurehead.
— Acts 28.1-2,7,10-11
Three months!? That’s a long time! Good lord, what were they doing?
Since they had been without food for a long time, Paul then stood up among them and said, “Men, you should have listened to me and not have set sail from Crete and thereby avoided this damage and loss. I urge you now to keep up your courage, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship. For last night there stood by me an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I worship, and he said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul; you must stand before the emperor; and indeed, God has granted safety to all those who are sailing with you.’ So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will be exactly as I have been told. But we will have to run aground on some island.”
— Acts 27.21-26
Good lord, Paul must have been so freaking annoying. I hope to live up to my namesake, haha.
I’ll be honest. It’s been years since I’ve been able to find a way to regularly read the Bible that sticks and works for me. To be frank, readings plans usually don’t work for me because I get bored. Depending on the plan, you’re either stuck in the same book for long stretches of time or you’re jumping around so much that you lose the sense of the whole.
This year, I think I’ve started a regimen that is clicking: the M’Cheyne Bible reading plan. At any given time, I’m going through four completely different part of Scripture and for me, this is keeping me really engaged. As I’ve gone on through the plan these past couple of months, I started highlighting and writing up little notes on random verses here and there. Lots of them. And I’d like to share them with you.
Well, it’s been a good long while since I’ve posted a Reading List for you all to enjoy–too long, in fact. These were some of my favorite things I read this week. What were some of yours?
In defense of creationists | The Week
Michael Brendan Dougherty
I referenced this at the end of my post yesterday, but this is a stunningly beautiful piece that wrestles with humanizing those that frustrate us the most in the Christian family. A must-read for sure.
Don’t overlook this piece too quickly. It is an incredibly powerful piece that speaks to how all of us–married, single, gay, straight–engage our sexuality in this world. It showed me how having celibate unmarried people in the world is necessary for healthy marriages, as well as how masturbation ruins even good friendships.
While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off.
So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia; and from there they sailed to Cyprus.
Nice. I love that.