Tag Archives: old covenant

VULTURES

mark twain“It is not the parts of the Bible I don’t understand that give me trouble. It is the part that I do understand that gives me fits.”~Mark Twain [aka Samuel Clemens]

These days it seems as if, people choose to believe in God, they want God to be their version of God. The Bible to say what they want it to say.  If a minister, or a believer, stands on the WORD, the whole WORD and nothing but the WORD, chance are someone is going to be offended.

“Here’s the church. Here’s the steeple. Open the door and see all the people.”here-is-the-church-color-4

I learned this little hand rhyme probably before I could read. I remember struggling to fold my hands just right. Bending the fingers in towards the palm, lifting the pointers to form a steeple, thumbs aligned closely together, then opening them to reveal my tiny wiggling fingers.

In those days, the rhyme fit the world. I was a baby boomer baby.  A miracle to my mom and dad (since they never thought they would have another child) and – a pain in the butt to my brother who thought he would always be an “onliest” as he had been for 9 years.  It was not unusual after WWII for church doors to open wide and to reveal a sanctuary full of music, prayers, literugy, sermons, and grateful families of a grateful nation. The covenant between God and His people had been shakened, but it still stood.  Christian faith in America was still considered a foundational rock.

“Surely the day is coming; it will burn like a furnace.All the arrogant and every evildoer will be stubble, and the day that is coming will set them on fire,” says the Lord Almighty. “Not a root or a branch will be left to them. “~Malachi 4:1

Today I was driving by a church that is close to us. Like most traditional churches turkeyvulture3it has a steeple with a cross on the top. I heard the rhyme in my mind as I looked at the church. The dreary overcast skies pulled my eyes up to the steeple and then the cross. Two vultures sat on the cross. It is probably nothing unusual in this as vultures like to roost high up in trees or electric poles, but I had just never seen two vultures actually perching on such a small post before. They were probably just resting and cleaning themselves before the next circle around the area, but it looked as if they were picking at the cross itself. I struggled with that metaphor as it immediately coursed through my mind. (English teachers are like that. We often see the metaphors behind an image or story.)

Vultures are not pretty; certainly not my favorite critter. They do their job well. They do the job that Nature’s God adapted for them to do in a world carved by man’s choices. They tear apart dead things, fight with their peers for each morsel, and eventually allow the tinier animals to begin the next step of the clean- up process. By the time nothing remains except the basic structure of what once existed, the vultures are on to their next project.

“But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its rays. And you will go out and frolic like well-fed calves. 3Then you will trample on the wicked; they will be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day when I act,” says the Lord Almighty.” ~Malachi 4:2

We argue over what is righteous in God’s sight. We argue over the relevance of the Old Covenant vs the New Covenant. We argue over traditional music vs modern music. We argue if the sermon is too long or too short.  We argue among ourselves when someone disagrees with our perception of what church doctrine should be. We argue as if we can comprehend what righteousness is on this side of heaven.

There are vultures everywhere these days which is not really a happy thought for this Easter season. But it is the reason to remember why Rabbi Yeshua referred to himself as the narrow gate.  It is the reason to remember the sacrifice made by Our Father and His Son.  It is the reason, we must remember to read the WORD – all the WORD, nothing but the WORD.

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.”  Matt 7:13

Vultures wait on that wide road; waiting to tear apart the church, it’s people and all things associated with it.  Rabbi Yeshua understood the role of vultures in nature and society. He understood man’s vision of the “church”, so He became the narrow gate between the Old and New Testament because He and the Father knew the children all too well. Legalistic. Judgmental. Arrogant. Impatient. Foolish. Idol worshipers.  Human vultures sitting on a cross.  Waiting.

“See, I will send the prophet Elijah to you before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes. He will turn the hearts of the parents to their children, and the hearts of the children to their parents; or else I will come and strike the land with total destruction.” ~Malachi 4:5-6

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A New Step

I am in a quandary.  I’ve stewed…walked a few circles of prayer in my head….stopped writing…worked on old chores that have been sitting around years…stared at anything as I’ve tried to scroll through this maze of thoughts. Have you ever felt like that?  As if the Trinity is trying to nudge you into a new thought – a new direction – a more complicated dance?  It’s  totally not fair when you’re dancing with a fantastic partner who suddenly throws in a new step.  You stumble.  You trip over your feet or His feet – until you finally – maybe – figure out what He is doing.  I’m still doing a few of those stumbling, catch-up steps; trying to look graceful and in time with the music – when in reality, I feel like my 7 year old self at my first dance recital:  scared – hyperventilating – fearful…

 “When Jesus had finished these parables, he moved on from there. Coming to his hometown, he began teaching the people in their synagogue, and they were amazed. “Where did this -man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers?” they asked. “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother’s name Mary, and aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas? Aren’t all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?” And they took OFFENSE at him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town and in his own home.” And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith.”  Matt 37:53-57 KJV

It is an old story about the way people think.  A story about rejection.  A fulfillment of prophecy.  The ultimate betrayal of a homegrown boy by people He knew and what they thought they knew about Him.  I’ve read it many times over the course of my 63 years.  It was this time through the story when My Lord threw in a new step.  I blinked.  I stumbled.  I didn’t recognize this step, but there it was in the shape of a simple word:  OFFENSE

 Offense:  of·fense  əˈfens/ N.  Annoyance or resentment brought about by a perceived insult to or disregard for oneself or one’s standards or principles.

They took offense to Jesus.  Do I?  It is a question that I have avoided thinking about even though it has been in the back of my mind almost every day for the past few years.   We all have standards or principles that we live by in our life. These days, Christians want Christ to be LOVE, JOY, PEACE, GOOD NEWS.   It’s part of our contemporary songs and worship.   It’s easier to get people to listen and agree with our thoughts.  It’s the part of the 70’s that has stuck to our society like glue.  When we think of Jesus, we think we get the “new covenant”.  He didn’t reject people.  He didn’t stick to all the old rules…didn’t always wash before eating…didn’t quit healing just because it was the Sabbath…chased the money changers from the temple… told us not to judge others… You get the picture…Jesus, the communal, perpetual hippie.  I’m sure most of you have seen the FB poster or e-mail referring to Jesus as a socialist.

“And the disciples of John shewed him of all these things.  And John calling unto him two of his disciples sent them to Jesus, saying, Art thou he that should come? or look we for another?  When the men were come unto him, they said, John Baptist hath sent us unto thee, saying, Art thou he that should come? or look we for another?  And in that same hour he cured many of their infirmities and plagues, and of evil spirits; and unto many that were blind he gave sight. Then Jesus answering said unto them, Go your way, and tell John what things ye have seen and heard; how that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, to the poor the gospel is preached. And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be OFFENDED in me.”  Lk 7:18-23 KJV 

Same base word, but this time a verb.  The steps are tripping me up big time at this point.  Am I offended by who Christ is?  Is He more than the Jesus Freak version that has invaded our culture?  The music spins a little faster.  However, Our Father steps are a tempo, and soon, the music is silenced as the Holy Spirit begins to sing.  Christ IS more, He IS the WORD, and I am convicted.

It is hard to write this and know that I am offended by the One I love.  Even as I write this, tears gather at the corner of my eyes.  Turning the words of the stories over and over in my head, I began to see that the things Rabbi Yeshua rejected were the “religious trappings” of the day – not the WORD.  Compare it to how many of our churches are rejecting the age old traditions such as: dressing up for church, singing old hymns, reciting of creeds or psalms. Those are the things He rejected.  But Rabbi Yeshua never rejected the WORD; instead, He embodies ALL the WORD.  He is the WORD.  He is love, peace, joy, good news…He is also what we don’t want to talk about in our societal dance.  You know  – the scary stuff  – the stuff that makes us uneasy and afraid to talk about in the normal course of our day– sin, judgment, gnashing of teeth….Hell. 

“And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war.  His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself.  And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God.”  Rev 19:11-13 KJV 

I re-read that last verse over and over, and my typing falters. I pray a little more. Then I look at my hand resting in the hand of My Lord.  His eyes are questioning.  Do I want to learn this new step in the dance?  I have the choice.  I can continue the dance the same way I have been dancing for years – steps that are comfortable and acceptable with the music of our world, or I can incorporate this new step, and challenge myself within the status quo.  I am questioning within myself.  How much difference will it make at this point?  Why is it important now?  I am praying harder.   I’m not sure my feet will move in step with the One who leads, but I move my foot forward….testing the floor boards beneath my feet….and trusting the One who leads.

Let the dance begin, and hopefully, I won’t trip over this new step….too much…too often…horse-white-jesus

(picture from Google images)