Bread – Seasons

June 30, 2015


Readings for Tuesday, June 30, 2015, designated by the 1979 Book of Common Prayer: 1 Sam. 11:1-15; Acts 8:1-13; Luke 22:63-71; Psalms 120-127

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I hesitated to write Bread today because (a) I did not know what Scriptures the Lord would provide today through the Book of Common Prayer and (b) I was afraid that I might have to write about the events of the last week, where five members of the United States Supreme Court elevated themselves over God to redefine what the word “marriage” means for society. Although they did not say (yet) that this definition applies to people of faith, it probably will because, although we are citizens of the Kingdom of God, we live in Rome.

The three readings today illustrate three responses to the actions of the world. Which one is right for today?

In the first reading, a group of Israelites is overrun by pagans and wants to give up, but when they hear the terms of surrender (gouge out their right eye), they ask for help from the rest of Israel. “And the Spirit of God rushed upon Saul when he heard these words, and his anger was greatly kindled…Then the dread of the Lord fell upon the people, and they came out as one man…And the next day … they [Saul and the Israelites] came into the midst of the camp [of the Ammorites, the pagans] … and struck down the Ammorites …” 1 Sam. 11:6-11. Here, the men of God were called to war against evil by the Spirit of God. There is a time and place historically for war with the weapons of war, but we need to remember that this is Old Testament teaching and Christ has advised us to forgive first and, when struck, to turn the other cheek. So holy war is probably not the appropriate response unless and until we as Christians hear the clarion call of the Holy Spirit. When (and if) that happens, it will not be subject to debate because “the dread of the Lord” will fall upon “the people” and it will be obvious.

In the second reading from Acts, Saul (another one, later to be renamed Paul), has authorized the killing of Stephen, a Christian. “And there arose on that day a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered … But Saul was ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison. Now those who were scattered went about preaching the Word.” Acts 8:1-4. Here we see that, notwithstanding exile and other bad consequences, Christians continued to live as Christians, “preaching the Word” where they ended up. Stephen’s death did not affect them, exile did not affect them, imprisonment did not affect them – their belief was solid and continued through adversity, and by their lives and proclamation of the Word they did not flinch from letting it be known who and whose they were. This is Christian living, citizens of the Kingdom of God living in Rome. It is unapologetic and unrelenting. During this time, while under direct and consistent attack, the Christian community gets stronger, not weaker, and the proclamation of Christ becomes bolder, not softer. Elsewhere in Scripture, this form of living is called “standing” (“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil…Therefore, take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.” Eph. 6:10-13).

The third reading is from Luke, where Jesus has been taken, held, ridiculed, set for trial and, as we know, destined for death on the cross. Lk. 22:63-71. As followers of Christ, should we expect better?

In the seasons of our life as a Christian, we may be called to fight, to stand, and/or to die. Which one will it be in this season of the exaltation of man’s thought over God’s Word?

I don’t know, but I do know this. In season or out of season, God is sovereign, His Word is the touchstone for how I and His people should live their lives, and Jesus Christ is the way, the truth, and the life, and that there are no other ways to eternal life but with, in and through Him. And that is true whether we are in the season of war, of standing, or of imprisonment and death. And that is true whether Caesar, the Supreme Court, or the majority of the people agree or not.

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© 2015 GBF

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