Congrats to the Women of the Church of England!

female-woman-bishop-anglican-communionI thought it would make more headlines this week in the U.S, but it didn’t, so I thought I’d put it here. Two days ago, the Church of England voted overwhelmingly to allow for female bishops in their ranks. They had for twenty years now allowed for female priests but–as is the odd logic that accompanies church hierarchies such as this–they thought it a step too far to allow women to be bishops. I don’t know. But either way, let us rejoice their is one more place in the world where women can fully and freely exercise the gifts God has given them.

Click here for more posts in my occasional series on Women in the Church.

Anna, the Prophet of the Lord | Luke 2.36-38

There was also a prophet, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, having lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped there with fasting and prayer night and day. At that moment she came, and began to praise God and to speak about the child to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.
Luke 2.36-38

What a powerful testimony. She was only married for seven years before her husband died. She had been a widower for 84 years. What pain and loneliness she must have felt. And yet, how did she spend it? Serving God’s people as a prophet, being especially in tune with those “looking for Israel’s redemption” and then proclaiming Jesus to them. Even before the Cross and Resurrection, Jesus was the answer for the longing of God’s people for redemption.

Also, Luke said he went through all of the accounts and picked and chose what would get “in” and what wouldn’t. Of all the little anecdotes he chooses to keep in and keep out, he chooses this. What a powerful woman she must have been for her to have been seered into the collective consciousness of God’s people retelling this story.

See other Marginalia here. Read more about the series here.

An Egalitarian Easter Week Meditation [QUOTE]

From Cyprian, 3rd-century bishop of Carthage, to a virgin consecrated by the church:

““I will multiply,” says God to the woman, “thy sorrows and thy groanings, and in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children, and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.” You are free from this sentence. You do not fear the sorrows and the groans of women. You have no fear of child-bearing; nor is your husband lord over you; but your Lord and Head is Christ, after the likeness and in place of man; with that of men your lot and your condition is
equal. . . .”

Death as home; Death as gift | Esther 8.1

On that day King Ahasuerus gave to Queen Esther the house of Haman, the enemy of the Jews; and Mordecai came before the king, for Esther had told what he was to her.
Esther 8:1

Continuing the theme from an earlier note which compared Haman, the enemy of the Jews, to our enemy, sin and death. Here, we see that after the King has conquered our enemy, we’re then given the house of the enemy. In our case, the house of sin and evil is death itself. But because of the Resurrection and God’s victory over death, death is now given to us as a gift. A place of rest, and the doorway to help.

See other Marginalia here. Read more about the series here.

Responding to the Covenant | Genesis 35.9-13

God appeared to Jacob again when he came from Paddan-aram, and he blessed him. God said to him, “Your name is Jacob; no longer shall you be called Jacob, but Israel shall be your name.” So he was called Israel. God said to him, “I am God Almighty: be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall come from you, and kings shall spring from you. The land that I gave to Abraham and Isaac I will give to you, and I will give the land to your offspring after you.” Then God went up from him at the place where he had spoken with him.
Genesis 35.9-13

Here is God renewing the Abraham covenant with Jacob. Notice that this is not a new covenant, but a passing of the mantle of stewardship on to Jacob. This is the same covenant we are under, except this mantle of stewardship has gone to, and stayed with, Jesus himself.

See other Marginalia here. Read more about the series here.

The Worship of Job; the Blame of God | Job 1.20-22

Then Job arose, tore his robe, shaved his head, and fell on the ground and worshiped. He said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there; the Lord gave, and theLord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”

In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrongdoing.

Job 1.20-22

I mentioned this verse earlier in my post on a theology of angels. It’s one of the most concentrated, powerful, packed lines of Scripture in the Bible. Job suffers and he worships. He ascribes to God the actions of Satan and the text explicitly says he does not sin in doing so. He fully inhabits his mourning and it is sincere and it is real. And yet, just as sincere as is his mourning, his worship is as well.

See other Marginalia here. Read more about the series here.

How to read Esther Christianly | Esther 7:4–10

For we have been sold, I and my people, to be destroyed, to be killed, and to be annihilated. If we had been sold merely as slaves, men and women, I would have held my peace; but no enemy can compensate for this damage to the king.” Then King Ahasuerus said to Queen Esther, “Who is he, and where is he, who has presumed to do this?” Esther said, “A foe and enemy, this wicked Haman!” Then Haman was terrified before the king and the queen. The king rose from the feast in wrath and went into the palace garden, but Haman stayed to beg his life from Queen Esther, for he saw that the king had determined to destroy him. When the king returned from the palace garden to the banquet hall, Haman had thrown himself on the couch where Esther was reclining; and the king said, “Will he even assault the queen in my presence, in my own house?” As the words left the mouth of the king, they covered Haman’s face. Then Harbona, one of the eunuchs in attendance on the king, said, “Look, the very gallows that Haman has prepared for Mordecai, whose word saved the king, stands at Haman’s house, fifty cubits high.” And the king said, “Hang him on that.” So they hanged Haman on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai. Then the anger of the king abated.
Esther 7.4-10

This book is so weird. Again, Esther is no paragon of virtue or model woman. She sleeps with the King to get ahead, is completely self-interested (has to be convinced to say her people because she might get caught up in the slaughter!), and she refuses to give mercy. This particular story of Haman’s condemnation, in both structure and language, seems to mirror David’s condemnation by Nathan. And yet, David gets mercy. Haman does not.

So what are some Christian take-aways from the book? A couple of things off the top of my head: life for God’s people only comes through a substitute, putting Death to Death, and something becoming a curse. Further, it’s the King who deals the death blow, even as the Enemy assaults us. Lastly, Salvation for God’s people is found when the King’s anger abates.

See other Marginalia here. Read more about the series here.

A quick note on why everything you think about angels might be wrong | Exodus 3.2

There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of a bush; he looked, and the bush was blazing, yet it was not consumed.
Exodus 3.2

It seems that in other parts of Scripture–both Old and New Testaments–the writers seem to think that this is God himself showing up in the bush. Heck, this account itself makes that claim. So, I’m wonder if angels aren’t so much heavenly beings with their own individual personalities, but rather incarnations (pun intended) of “parts” of God. Maybe certain attributes, perhaps? And so, maybe it is the case that all the stories about angels and heavenly hosts and battles really are more symbolic of general spiritual forces rather than individual beings with their own personalities and such. Maybe they are not “representatives” of God, but are just God in certain forms. Perhaps they are like pre-incarnations? I think we need a new vocabulary to talk about this. Either way, this text clearly says “the angel of the Lord appeared” and then the rest of the story says it’s YHWH himself.

If you want an even more provocative thought. Recall Job, when the “angel Satan” does a bunch of stuff to Job? Well, Job goes on to say that the Lord has done those things to him, and both times he does this, the text clearly says, “Job did not sin with his lips or ascribe wrong to God.” “Satan” does something, Job says God did it. The Bible says Job is right.

Lastly, as a disclaimer on these Marginalia posts.These are my stream of conscious thoughts as I read Scripture. They are not fully-formed doctrinal positions. I think it beneficial not to shield people from even the craziest left-field questions that pop up in one’s mind, btu to invite them into the thinking process.

See other Marginalia here. Read more about the series here.

God’s Camp is Our Camp | Genesis 32:1

Jacob went on his way and the angels of God met him; and when Jacob saw them he said, “This is God’s camp!” So he called that place Mahanaim.
Genesis 32:1

Jacob experiences God here, says that this is God’s camp, and yet the name he gives it means “two camps”. I love this idea. The camps that are God’s are also ours. We have an “ownership” of sorts in God’s presence. His presence “belongs” to his people. It also speaks of devotion. Where He camps, we camp. The good news of the covenant? In Jesus, the whole world is God’s “camp”. Therefore, the whole world is our inheritance.

See other Marginalia here. Read more about the series here.

The Echoes of History & Abraham| Genesis 24.22-23

When the camels had finished drinking, the man took a gold nose-ring weighing a half shekel, and two bracelets for her arms weighing ten gold shekels, and said, “Tell me whose daughter you are. Is there room in your father’s house for us to spend the night?”
Genesis 24.22-23

On a random historical note, though it is clear that these stories come from older narratives and traditions written down much later, it is interesting that these stories still have features that would have been accurate for the time at which the story took place, millenia before the story was written down. You can see an example here. At the Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology, you can see artifacts from this area and supposed time (where I have seen with my own eyes the type of jewelry that this would be referring to). From doing that, it really looks like things such as these bracelets and gold rings were used for currency a lot more at this particular time in history. Later on, in a story such as this you would have more references to gold, money, cattle, or more established forms of barterng.

See other Marginalia here. Read more about the series here.

Moses the Levite? | Exodus 2:12

Now a man from the house of Levi went and married a Levite woman.
Exodus 2.12

These are Moses’ unnamed parents. It’s interesting that the text makes a point to say they are both Levitra, the priesthood branch of the family. Notice that both Aaron and Miriam, Moses is siblings, would have also come from the priesthood side of the family. I wonder if this gives Miriam a certain Priestley role in the community as well? Either way, I never noticed that Moses and Aaron are both Levites. This gives Moses a much more priestly, rather than prophetic, role in what he does, and the function he serves in the story and the community.

See other Marginalia here. Read more about the series here.

And the story moves from Abraham to Isaac… | selections from Genesis 26

Now there was a famine in the land, besides the former famine that had occurred in the days of Abraham. And Isaac went to Gerar, to King Abimelech of the Philistines.
Genesis 26:1

This reads like a later interpolation because of confusion between the two drought accounts.

The Lord appeared to Isaac and said, “Do not go down to Egypt; settle in the land that I shall show you.
Genesis 26:2

God’s first word to Abraham: “Go”. God’s first word to his son: “Do not go”. I love that. Not sure why, but I do.

Abimelech said, “What is this you have done to us? One of the people might easily have lain with your wife, and you would have brought guilt upon us.” So Abimelech warned all the people, saying, “Whoever touches this man or his wife shall be put to death.”
Genesis 26:10-11

Oh the mercy of God, and how he protects the vulnerable here. But how do we understand when he doesn’t act in protection like this?

See other Marginalia here. Read more about the series here.