Twenty-Sixth Day of Lent   17 comments

Adoration of the Golden Calf, by Nicholas Poussin (1594-1665)

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Thursday, March 26, 2020

Collect and lections from the Episcopal Lesser Feasts and Fasts Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints

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Follow the assigned readings with me this Lent….

Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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“Beyond the sacred page I seek Thee, Lord….”

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Exodus 32:7-14 (TANAKH: The Holy Scriptures):

The LORD spoke to Moses,

Hurry down, for your people, whom you brought out of the land of Egypt, have acted basely.  They have been quick to turn aside from the way that I enjoined upon them.  They have made themselves a molten calf and bowed low to it and sacrificed to it, saying, ‘This is your god, O Israel, who brought you out of the land of Egypt!’

The LORD further said to Moses,

I see that this is a stiffnecked people.  Now, let Me be, that My anger may blaze forth against them and that I may destroy them, and make of you a great nation.

But Moses implored the LORD his God, saying,

Let not your anger, O LORD, blaze forth against Your people, whom You delivered from the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand.  Let not the Egyptians say, ‘It was with evil intent that He delivered them, only to kill them off in the mountains and annihilate them from the face of the earth.’  Turn from Your blazing anger, and renounce Your plan to punish Your people.  Remember Your servants, Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, how You swore by Your Self and said to them: I will make your offspring as numerous as the stars of heaven, and I will give to your offspring this whole land of which I spoke, to possess forever.

And the LORD renounced the punishment He had planned to bring upon His people.

Psalm 106:6-7, 19-23 (TANAKH: The Holy Scriptures):

We have sinned like our forefathers;

we have gone astray, done evil.

Our forefathers in Egypt did not perceive Your wonders;

they did not remember Your abundant love,

but rebelled at the sea, at the Sea of Reeds.

They made a calf at Horeb

and bowed down to a molten image.

They exchanged their glory

for the image of a bull that feeds on grass.

They forgot God who saved them,

who performed great deeds in Egypt,

wondrous deeds in the land of Ham,

awesome deeds at the Sea of Reeds.

He would have destroyed them

had not Moses His chosen one

confronted Him on the breach

to avert His destructive wrath.

John 5:30-47 (The New Testament in Modern English–Revised Edition):

[Jesus said,]

By myself I can do nothing.  As I hear from God, I judge, and my judgment is true because I do not live to please myself but to do the will of the Father who sent me.  You may say that I am bearing witness about myself, that therefore what I say about myself has no value, but I would remind you that there is one who witnesses about me and I know that his witness about me is absolutely true.  You sent to John, and he testified to the truth.  Not that it is man’s testimony that I need–I only tell you this to help you to be saved.  John certainly was a lamp that burned and shone, and for a time you were willing to enjoy the light that he gave.  But I have a higher testimony than John’s.  The work that the Father gave me to complete, yes, these very actions which I do are my witness that the Father has sent me.  This is how the Father who has sent me has given his own personal testimony to me.

Now you have never at any time heard what he says or seen what he is like.  Nor do you really allow his word to find a home in your hearts, for you refuse to believe the man whom he has sent.  You pore over the scriptures for you imagine that you will find eternal life in them.  All the time they give testimony to me, but you are not willing to come to me to have real life!  I do not need the praise of men, but I can tell you that you have none of the love of God in your hearts.  I have come in the name of my Father and you will not accept me.  Yet if another man comes simply in his own name, you will accept him.  How on earth can you believe while you are for ever looking for each other’s approval and not for the glory that comes from the one God?  There is no need for you to think that I have come to accuse you before the Father.  You already have an accuser–Moses, in whom you put all your confidence!  For if you really believed Moses, you would be bound to believe me; for it was about me that he wrote.  But if you do not believe what he wrote, how can you believe what I say?

The Collect:

Almighty and most merciful God, drive from us all weakness of body, mind, and spirit; that, being restored to wholeness, we may with free hearts become what you intend us to be and accomplish what you want us to do; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

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Idolatry is this day’s theme.

Moses was up on the mountain communing with God and receiving commandments while Aaron began to lead the Israelites in idolatry.  Exodus tells us that God was prepared to destroy the people then and there, until Moses made a persuasive case to the contrary.

We human beings like to make God (or our gods) concrete.  This explains the popularity throughout history of idols, representations of deities.  Monotheism came relatively late to the Hebrew people, as their practices of worshiping Yahweh and other gods for a very long time testify.  People are like what they do.  Prophets, priests, and other religious authorities might claim that people should bow down to only one God, but people who worship gods are polytheists.  And Yahweh wanted all the attention, not just some of it.

In this day’s reading from John the idol of the certain Jewish authorities was the Hebrew Bible.  They focused so much on their scriptures that they did not recognize the fulfillment of part of those scriptures in their midst.

Today the Bible is the most common idol among professing Christians.  This is not the sacred anthology’s intended function, of course.  Yet I write of reality, not an ideal state.  The Bible should be a means to an end, not the end.

I conclude with a hymn, “Break Thou the Bread of Life,” with words by Mary A. Lathbury and Alexander Groves.

Break Thou the bread of life, dear Lord, to me,
As Thou didst break the loaves beside the sea;
Beyond the sacred page I seek Thee, Lord;
My spirit pants for Thee, O living Word!

Bless Thou the truth, dear Lord, to me, to me,
As Thou didst bless the bread by Galilee;
Then shall all bondage cease, all fetters fall;
And I shall find my peace, my all in all.

Thou art the bread of life, O Lord, to me,
Thy holy Word the truth that saveth me;
Give me to eat and live with Thee above;
Teach me to love Thy truth, for Thou art love.

O send Thy Spirit, Lord, now unto me,
That He may touch my eyes, and make me see:
Show me the truth concealed within Thy Word,
And in Thy Book revealed I see the Lord.

KRT

Written on March 2, 2010

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17 responses to “Twenty-Sixth Day of Lent

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