Monday, April 19, 2010

Unity of the Body

Zac Hicks has an intriguing analysis of the value of using the Common Lectionary as an aid to Bible study and worship. He rightly points out that this is one tool of the Holy Spirit to knit the scattered bones of the church back together as so many read, study, pray and worship around the same texts week by week.

It is also a way to be joined together in ordering our time, all of us dancing to the same delight in the same celebrations throughout the year; all of us pacing to the measure of His work rather than to the commemorations of our various States or to purely personal memorials and agendas.

I have been working on a cycle of daily Bible studies based on the daily readings from the Lectionary. The set for Lent is complete, and will soon be available for personal or group study. Below is a sample lesson. I'd love to hear your comments. Is it clear? Easy to use? Does it draw out the themes that echo among the Old and New Testament readings for the day?

Thursday: Beloved Enemies


Ps. 35, 148; Romans 11:25-36; Deuteronomy 30:11-20

Discussion & Study

1. What point does Moses emphasize about the Law in Deut. 30:11 – 14?

2. Where does David turn for justice when he is oppressed, according to Ps. 35?

3. Who were David’s most painful enemies according to Ps 35:12 - 17?

4. On what basis does he make his plea? Why can he expect God to take up his case?

5. Who had become the enemies of God’s people in Paul’s day (Rom 11:28)?


Our worst enemies are the ones we helped and trusted. The ones we counted as friends or family. David’s anguish is increased by the nearness of his enemies. But in his pain, he does not take matters into his own hands.

David pictures himself in the Court of Heaven. He asks for the Judge to plead his cause on the basis of His covenant, and proceeds to give evidence of his oppressors’ abuse of that covenant. He lays before God, his complaint and trusts in God’s justice and mercy. He calls for God’s punishment on the wicked and His defense of the righteous, but David understands that, particularly in the case of once-friend enemies, he himself might not know who the wicked are. “Judge me,” he says.

God knows not only the outward violations, but the inward ones as well. He knows the particular wounds and rottenness in the oppressor’s heart. He is the only one who can truly mete out justice. But God’s purposes in His justice go far beyond simple retribution. His justice not only gives the wicked his just desserts and the oppressed relief, but it produces restoration of the offender.

Israel in Paul’s day had become the enemy in God’s bosom and the God-fearing Gentiles had taken David’s place. Paul exhorts these Gentile converts to take up David’s wisdom. For God is not merely shaming and confounding covenant-breakers, but He is preparing an unprecedented union as well. Because of God’s rejection of Israel, both Israel and non-Israel know the wrath of God, so that those physical descendants of Abraham and those spiritual descendants of Abraham who fear God will be unified by their experience of God’s grace.

They will all be Israel together, beyond all pettiness, beyond all betrayal, beyond all pain.

Does one near you oppress you? Do not seek revenge. Lay your complaint before God, who is just beyond Justice. His grace will not gloss over wickedness; will not merely excuse the destroyer. But His justice will produce real healing and real unity.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Burning Questions

So I've just completed the last cycle of the bad-boy chemo drugs. I'm looking forward now to a week of getting ahead of the damage they have done to healthy tissues as well as cancerous ones. My naturopath said this week that it's the patients who feel the effects of chemo the most who seem to have the lowest recurrence rates. I certainly hope he's right in my case!

Tomorrow, I'll begin the Herceptin and Avastin infusions alone. They aren't the ones causing all the awful side effects. And I don't have to prepare for them with a several-day fast. The Monday after that, I'll begin radiation - every day for 6 - 7 weeks.

So the burning questions are: How will that hit me - will I tan, burn or glow in the dark? Will I lose ALL my fingernails in the wake of chemo? How soon will there be life after naptime? and...(cheesy organ chord)did all this work?

Really, only time will tell.

So today, I'm celebrating the no-fasting zone by having dinner at the Olive Garden.


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