Through the Bible in a Year – July 29

The scheme for July – August can be found here

2 Ki 4-5; Acts 13:13-end; Psalm 110-111

Our readings follow the ‘career’ of Elisha, the prophet who came after Elijah and yet whose work far outstripped that of his predecessor.

In the incident of the healing of the Shunemite’s son – there are of course parallels with the works of Jesus. But here I would stop to consider the means of healing Elisha employs. In the church we have absorbed much of the spirit body duallism of our forebears and this incident seems to some almost distasteful. But in this healing Elisha does not stand at a distance, or even at the bedside and prounce healing. His body is the vessel of the Spirit – it is the vessel of Life. The intimate contact reveals this. Jesus almost always heals by touch. In the church we have Sacraments – the Life is in the Material, the Spirit is in the fleshly.

Perhaps most clearly we see this in Confirmation and Ordination neither of which can take place without the laying on of hands – the Spirit cannot be passed on except through the flesh. The Word becomes flesh.

Later we see Elisha so absorbed in God, that he doesn’t even come to the door for Naaman. Whilst Elisha is the vessel for the life of God, it is only because his life is consciously devoted to God. He portrays the Great commandment – in loving God with all he has and is, he becomes Love for the neighbour.

To the world, the one who is God’s servant will always seem unduly preoccupied with God, but that is only because for most of us, we are preoccupied with anything but the Life and Love of God.

And no, it is not a matter of balance. Love the Lord your God with All you have and All you are.

Through the Bible in a Year – January 18

The Scheme for January and February can be found here

Genesis 37-38; John 14; Psalm 25

Psalm 25 is perhaps one of the most beautiful Psalms of the devoted heart – the heart of a Saint. Which is what we are – yet we flee from the thought. How might we truly embrace that which Christ died and lives to make us?

Early in the Genesis story we were introduced to the grandeur and seriousness of human existence. Something which our age has little time for – we are too rushed to allow our Lives to flourish – always transplanted from place to place, thought to thought, Experience to experience. Inattentive to the one who Attends. No way that we can hear and see that which is Beyond us and little time for those who would suppose there might be more.

Here in New Zealand it is said “we don’t like tall poppies” – they get cut off, don’t begin to imagine that you might amount to saintliness, remember your place. “Here comes the dreamer . . .”

How readily we tear Joseph down. In an age marked by suspicion of the text all we can see is the tall poppy. so he is accused of arrogance and pride – yet all the text tells us is that he has dreams and tells his brothers. It is interesting what our interpretation of the text tells us about ourselves, if we would but attend.

And again there are so many layers to this story as we read it against the whole sweep of Scripture. For they come against him at Dothan. Dothan where the Assyrians will one day come against another dreamer, Elisha. Another one whose eye is open to Salvation and who like Joseph prefigures the ‘one who is to come after’. Joseph will be taken to Egypt – he ‘dies’ so that his brothers might live, and immediately we read of Judah and Tamar. We read of a land shorn of tall poppies, a land where all there is is shame. Shameful acts Exposed. There is no longer a dreamer. There are no longer Saints in the land – no longer a vision of anything better. Famine will come and the people perish.

Joseph attends – he is faithful. He is taught by the Spirit, and led into saving truth for the benefit of all his kin.

“In a little while, the world will not see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live”

Dare we risk dreaming?

“Redeem Israel O God, out of all its troubles”