Design a site like this with WordPress.com
Get started

A Vision of Peace

Chapter 48

Good Monday Morning to this week 48 of 2022

Amid the pain and violence of our world, we hold fast to this hope.
Carolyn Arends

Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.
Luke 2:14

In 2003, journalist Chris Hedges set out to determine whether there have been any sustained periods of peace on the human record. Defining war as any “active conflict that has claimed more than 1,000 lives,” he reviewed 3,400 years of history and discovered just 268 war-free years. In other words, approximately 92 percent of recorded history is marked by active conflict.

Of course, the people of ancient Israel did not need a journalist to tell them that human existence is plagued by wars and rumors of wars. They had plenty of firsthand, trauma-inducing experiences with conflict, violence, and oppression. What they did need was a prophet who could provide them with a vision of peace. Isaiah brought them—and us—just such a vision. All the nations come streaming together to the mountain of God. That’s where they discover that the supposed dichotomy between peace and justice has been false all along. The Lord brings peace through justice.

And then watch what happens when humans find themselves in the presence of the Prince of Peace: The swords and spears they’ve brought to the mountain—weapons they’ve long assumed were necessary to their survival—seem suddenly out of place. The people lay down their arms.

Isaiah is not naive. He has seen the brutality that can and does characterize the human condition. But he’s also caught a glimpse of the verdant, vibrant, peace-infused future the Prince of Peace has planned for his creation. It’s the sort of vision that gives a weary prophet hope—a vision about the sort of prince who will one day cause angels to exclaim, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests” (Luke 2:14).

Wishing you a good start to this new week of the 1st Advent

Philemon



Advertisement

Poor Man’s Pain

Chapter 47

Good Monday Morning to this new week 47 of 2022

Coming home this song popped up in my random song list. It immediately caught my attention. An incredible voice, but also an urgency in the text. So often thinking of social justice and social care – it sure was down that line.

Bravery can take many forms. For Danielle Ponder it took the shape of a leap of faith: leaving her successful day job working in the public defender’s office in her hometown of Rochester to devote herself full-time to sharing her powerful voice with the world. 

In 1982 Willie Simmons was sentenced to life for stealing $9. HIs story and many like his inspired this song by Danielle Ponder.

[Verse 1]
Did the crime pay more than time
Time and time, and time again?
Land of laws for the darker man
Freedom comes too slow
I could give up if my soul wasn’t with me
I could give up if the blood wasn’t in me
I’m pressing on, one day I’ll see the sun

Chorus]
I’m calling out to the heart of this land
Who’s gonna listen to a poor man’s pain?
And I’m reaching out, reaching out again
To anyone with the will to understand

[Verse 2]
Lonely nights and longer days
Count them down but they never fade
Hard to find who I used to be
I hold tight to what’s left of me
Cold are the days where the world doеsn’t see me
Cold are the nights whеre nobody needs me
Won’t be long, I’m coming home, ooh

[Chorus]
I’m calling out to the heart of this land
Who’s gonna listen to a poor man’s pain?
And I’m reaching out, reaching out again
To anyone who will see me as I am

[Outro]
Freedom, won’t you call out my name?
Freedom, won’t you call out my name?
Freedom, won’t you call out my name?
I am a man just like you, ha
I bleed the blood that you do
Well, I’m a man just like you, hey
I bleed the blood that you do
Yeah, freedom, oh yeah
Oh, freedom, oh yeah

To all out there that suffer incredible injustice . To those that
get a song and to those that don’t get a song and aren’t seen or heard.

Lord have mercy!

Philemon

Danielle Ponder – “Poor Man’s Pain” – Tiny Desk Contest 2020
https://youtu.be/KQDO-Lvo2_Y



Ghosting

Chapter 46

Good morning to this new week 46 of 2022

Last weekend we were reminded of some amazing stories of prophets. Lots of emphasis was on their worst and not their best moments. In new terms it sometimes seems as if they were ghosting …

Ghosting the act or practice of abruptly cutting off all contact with someone usually without explanation by no longer accepting or responding to phone calls, instant messages.

Moses

Moses, having killed the Egyptian guard did a disappearing act to Midian. Pharaoh heard about the killing and Moses thought it provident to become a missing person. This might be described as ‘crime flight’.

Elijah

Elijah, too did the disappearing act after he had won the great victory over the false prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel when, as told Queen Jezebel put a price on his head. He too thought it was a good idea to become a missing person, although he’d just called down fire from heaven to prove God’s power and disprove any power of Baal. This might be described as ‘fear flight’.

Jonah

Jonah did the disappearing act rather than go and confront the people of Ninevah about their impending destruction unless they repented. He jumped board ship to become a missing person where he eventually ended up inside a great fish, and was vomited out and went preaching. This might be described as ‘conviction flight’.

Prodigal Son

Jesus told the story of the Prodigal son in Luke 15. This young man asked for his inheritance and disappeared to a far country where he lost the lot, but became a missing person to his family. When he came to his senses and returned, to his surprise a great party was organised, but his elder brother was not a little miffed as he’d never been given a similar celebration. This might be described as ‘family flight’.

Apostle Paul

The Apostle Paul too did a disappearing act. In his letter to the Christians in Galatia (Galatians 2 verses 16-23) he disappeared for three years, during which the Lord communed with him. No one is quite sure how this worked out, for as a missing person he might have lived a hermit-type of existence, or found some other situation. What we do know is that “after this period”, Paul led what became the expansion of the Gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the world. This might be described as ‘divine flight’.

In the United Kingdom around 600 people will have got up this morning, decided to walk out the front door and simply disappear. While many of those people who go missing later return, or eventually get in touch with family.

How many of us ghost God? How many of us never communicate with Him when we are in the good times? How many of us never communicate with Him when the going gets bad? Or when the state of our lives when nothing is going on? How many of us ignore God altogether? God speaks. He speaks to his people, and sometimes we can be so preoccupied that we miss it. So, I’ve got a couple of challenges for us today when God is trying to communicate with His people. Here’s the first challenge: Don’t ghost God. Don’t be the kind of person that just blows off the text or doesn’t return the phone calls when God is reaching out to us and God is trying to get our attention because in the Old Testament, God often tries to get the attention of his people through a prophet. 

And most of all, don’t skip the still, Small Voice of God after the wind, the fire and the earthquake.

Wishing a great start to this new week!

Philemon

Seeing is Believing

Chapter 45

Good Monday Morning to this week 45 of 2022

And they saw God …. Moses and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and the seventy elders of Israel Exodus 24. 10

A few passages out of of Seeing is Believing. On the Relative Priority of Visual and Verbal Perception of the Divine by George Savran

What the form was which the elders saw, we are not told; but as it had “feet,” it was probably a human form. It may have been hazy, indefinite, “too dazzling bright for mortal eye” to rest upon. But it was a true “vision of God” – and, as Keil says, “a foretaste of the blessedness of the sight of God in eternity.” There was under his feet, as it were, a paved work of a sapphire stone. Pulpit Commentary

In comparing the modes of perception of the divine in the Bible, one finds a clear preference for hearing the word of God. The idea of seeing God in a variety of different manifestations is noticeably present, but is generally seen as less important perception.

However, in a number of cases where seeing and hearing are both present, seeing is presented as the preferable mode. 

Balaam first hears from God twice in night auditions, but seeing the angel of the Lord in a daytime manifestation brings home the message to him in a way that the spoken word did not. In a somewhat different fashion, Job’s ideas about seeing God are contrasted with the attitude of the friends toward direct revelation. This distinction points to the significance of the superiority of seeing God to hearing. Job’s statement here is not intended to describe a vision of God, but rather an appreciation of the perspective of the divine.

And when the Bible does distinguish clearly between visual and verbal perception of the divine, it seeks to indicate something about the nature of the encounter itself. Most biblical texts describe a dynamic tension between seeing and hearing, the two modes combining to complement and complete one another. In narrative texts, for example, Laban’s hearing and seeing YHWH is implored to incline his ear and  open his eyes. Isaiah tells Hezekiah that YHWH has both heard his prayer and seen his tears and will therefore grant him longevity. In poetic texts, seeing and hearing are often parallel, with no preference for one over the other.

When Moses says to YHWH “Show me your Presence,” he is asking for a glimpse of the divine essence in a clear physical sense. YHWH’s response, agreeing to reveal his back but not his front, emphasises this physical aspect, even if the words “face” and “back” are read as metaphors for direct and indirect views of the divine.

YHWH’s emphasis on covering Moses with his “palm” when he passes by gives the clear impression that a physical revelation is expected. But when the revelation actually comes in Exodus 34, what is emphasised is YHWH’s character as reflected in the aspects of divine behaviour described in 34:6-7—merciful, full of compassion, holding out the threat of punishment for a few generations, and the possibility of for-giveness for a thousand. 

Job is both similar and different. He too asks to see God, not so much to know the shape and size of divinity, but to vindicate himself in his claim of innocence. He wants God to appear in court, as it were,to answer Job to his face and to vindicate him once and for all, as he has been contending all along. However, what Job sees in the end is a deity who functions outside the normative rules of morality which the world of wisdom literature has come to accept. YHWH as revealed in the whirlwind speeches turns out to have a much broader conception of the organisation of the cosmos, a deity who is not defined simply by the usual conventions of divine manifestation or by those humannotions of morality and covenant which make the world a comprehen-sible place. This deity is wilder, much less constrained by conventional notions of morality, a god whose canons of behaviour in creation are farfrom anything Job could previously imagine. 

Seeing God in Job 42:5 means not that God is the object of Job’s gaze, but that the divine provides a subjective lens through which to see the world. For Job, seeing God means seeing the world through the eyes of God.

While the fact that seeing precedes hearing in these narratives may besimply a result of narrative sequencing, it creates the impression that the visual element serves as an introduction to the divine word. In certain cases it may well be a reflex of the personification representation of the Deity. Like a human visitor who appears on the scene before he speaks, he is apprehended first by sight.

Wishing you a blessed week of experiencing God in many senses!

Philemon