Wednesday, January 23, 2019

A Different Estimate of What Happiness Consists Of

Happy is everyone who fears the Lord, who walks in his ways.
You shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands; you shall be happy, and it shall go well with you.
Ps. 128:1-2 

Calvin wouldn't agree with the NRSV's translation of Psalm 128:2. Though it does not actually jibe with the major points of his own theology, he concedes that it should probably read as one thought: When you eat the fruit of the labor of your hands, you shall be happy and it shall go well with you. This, he says,
teaches us that we ought to form a different estimate of what happiness consists [of?] from that formed by the world, which makes a happy life to consist in ease, honors, and great wealth.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Together in Unity

Though there are many references to unity in scripture, none is better known—or more beloved—than Psalm 133. Here it is being sung to the tune Eastgate using the words of the 17th century Scottlish Psalter.

The Bread of Anxious Toil

Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord guards the city, the guard keeps watch in vain.
It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives sleep to his beloved.
Ps. 127:1-2 

It is not his first point or lengthiest commentary on Psalm 127:1, but Calvin rightly identifies works righteousness as one of this verse's meanings:
Now, if our terrestrial condition depends. entirely upon the good pleasure of God, with what wings shall we fly up into heaven? When a house is planned, or a certain manner of life is chosen — yea, even when laws are enacted and justice

Monday, January 21, 2019

Reach Out and Touch

Though when we think of the concept of Christian unity, we imagine that it refers to reaching out across denominational lines. But surely when Jesus prayed "that they may all be one" (John 17:21), he must also have been praying for unity among people of different ethnic backgrounds. And so on Martin Luther King Day, let us ask forgiveness for the brokenness of the body

Bringing in the Sheaves

Restore our fortunes, O Lord, like the watercourses in the Negeb.
May those who sow in tears reap with shouts of joy.
Those who go out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, carrying their sheaves.
Ps. 126:4-6 
Sowing in the morning, sowing seeds of kindness,
sowing in the noontide and the dewy eve;
waiting for the harvest, and the time of reaping,
we shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves.

Sowing in the sunshine, sowing in the shadows,
fearing neither clouds nor winter's chilling breeze;
by and by the harvest, and the labor ended,

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Water into Wine: The Change Within

When the steward tasted the water that had become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward called the bridegroom.
—John 2:9

Wedding at Cana
Something gets said in the account of Jesus’ first miracle that sticks out like a sore thumb. It’s when Jesus calls his mother Woman. The wine runs out, and Mary tells Jesus to fix things. His reply? Woman, what concern is that to you and me? Seriously, who talks to their mom that way—and right in front of people?

There are two schools of thought on this topic. Well three really, because one of them is to simply mistranslate it and have Jesus call his mother Mother. [1] But we have to let it stand as it is. And so it’s possible that calling your mother Woman in first century Palestine was simply a term of respect, such as Ma’am.

The second explanation is much more theological. But there might be something to it. It points to a change in Jesus’ relationship with his family. Distancing himself from his mother as he’s beginning his ministry is a clear indication that his focus has changed and his people are no

Many Gifts, One Spirit

Today is the Sunday within the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. Appropriately enough, the appointed epistle reading for today includes this verse:
Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit.  —1 Cor 12:4
And the United Church choir is singing Allen Pote's Many Gifts, One Spirit, which is a prayer for Christian unity. The video below is of a different choir, but the song is beautiful and so should be listened to.