Through the Bible in an Year – March 13

The Scheme for March and April can be found here

Lev 25; 1 Cor 10; Psalm 90

Moving on from yesterday’s argument about not living in such a way to cause offence to the weaker brethren, Paul addresses a further issue, that of licentiousness. “All things are lawful” – his intelocutors tell him – yes, he responds, “but not all things are beneficial. The Church in Corinth, unlike say that in Galatia, is rife with people hearing the message of freedom in Christ, yet in effect rejecting it, by not entering into the new life. Using it as an excuse Not to turn from wickedness.

Paul points them back to that prefiguring of salvation, the Exodus – and how the Israelites used their freedom to abase themselves. This Freedom we have in Christ is to grow into the fullness of the Image of God. We have been set free from all that kept s from being fully human. Paul argues strongly, do not allow your freedom either to be a stumbling block to others, OR a vehicle for a life of license.

He asks them to consider who they are, and his focus is the Eucharist – the centre of our shared life – ‘Are we not in this participating in the very life of Christ?’, Paul asks. How can we therefore at the same time live lives that continue to participate in the worship of things that are not? ‘You cannot participate in the life of God and of demons’

As there are those who use their ‘knowledge’ to offend their brethren, so there are others, or indeed the same people, who use their knowledge to live not to the Lord but to themselves. We are back in the garden – the temptation to be like God – to rule our own lives.

Through the Bible in a Year – February 16

Exodus 12; Acts 22; Psalm 60-61

Reading the Exodus narrative – one is struck by the sheer force of what is happening – that this Exodus is only brought about through immense cost, a cost that must perpetually be remembered in the redeeming of the first born.

Through the history of Israel, this night is to be remembered, for it is the night on which God said to them conclusively, ‘You are mine’, with everything that that means. As the prophets will remind the people many many years later, it is not through any goodness of their own tat God has done this, it is not a matter for pride. They do not choose Yahweh for their God. He chooses them, as at first he had called Abraham.

Over and over again in our faith, we make far far to much of our response to God’s call. Here in this Exodus passage it is laid bare – frail Moses, and doubting people are rescued. God creates a people for himself – as many many years later he will do conclusively in Christ.

As Israel was commanded to retell the story, so also Paul we note tells over and over again the story of his ‘conversion’. It is something which he had nothing to do with. It is the profound archetype of ‘becoming Christian’ – it has nothing to do with us – it has everything to do with God, and what is more it lays upon us now a duty, to live as dearly loved children.

Becoming Christian is not our choice – perversely we try to make it thus, but it is not – the only choice we have is whether or not we will live into the fullness of that calling

Through the Bible in a Year – January 15

The Scheme for January and February can be found here

Genesis 31-32; John 11:28-57; Psalm 20-21

In a sense what follows next in the story of Jacob foreshadows the Exodus. Jacob has entered the territory of Laban under one set of terms and found himself indentured. Yet as the Israelites plunder the Egyptians who first gave them hospitality and then enslaved them, so¬† Jacob plunders Laban and makes off, only to be pursued. The story parts company with the Exodus at this point, and in one other key respect – for in the story of the Exodus that is to come, God is more clearly to the forefront of the liberation. And in coming to the water, it is not the advancing Egyptians that strikes fear into ‘Israel’, but the angel of the LORD.

In the same way that the crossing of the Red Sea will irrevocably mark Israel as God’s chosen people, so Jacob is marked as he crosses the ford of the Jabbok at Penuel ‘ as the sun rose upon him . . . limping because of his hip’.

It is in this encounter with the Living God – which turns death to Life – one is encountered in the darkness of night – a voice breaking through into our consciousness like the sound of many waters – “Lazarus! Come out!”

How then can we ignore so great a Salvation – for we have seen the face of the Lord and Lived