Archive for October, 2008

Deuteronomy 34:1-12, Matthew 22:34-46

October 27, 2008

For today’s readings please visit

Today marks the last of the Moses stories. For weeks we have been following Moses and the people of Israel in their pilgrimage, and exploring Moses’s immense stature as a spiritual leader. We have also seen similarities between him and Jesus. Today I want to call attention to one, last similarity. We read, “Then Moses, servant of the Lord, died there in the land of Moab…. He was buried in a valley in the land of Moab… but no one knows his burial place to this day.” How amazing! A man of such stature and no one knows where he is buried! Neither does anyone know Jesus’ burial place. If you have been to Jerusalem you were probably taken to visit two places, each having a plausible claim to be Jesus’ tomb. But even supposing the true place could be identified, his was an empty tomb. The point in common is this: no one can worship a tomb they cannot find; nor can they worship an empty tomb. Tomb worship is out, either for Moses or Jesus. (more…)


Exodus 33:12-23, Matthew 22:15-22

October 19, 2008

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When we lived in northern California Stuart and I used to visit the mineral baths at Wilbur Hot Springs. The water was piped into a series of large, concrete pools about four feet deep. They were arranged from tepid to scalding. On our first visit, being neophytes, we slid into the middle pool first thing. What a mistake! We shot out and waited for the pain to subside; then we entered the tepid pool. After ten minutes or so, it felt cool, so we got out and entered the next warmest pool. And so we continued right on into the pool we had tried first. No pain! After growing accustomed to that temperature, we moved on to a hotter pool and another even hotter. I am telling you this, because it helps to understand the reading from Exodus. (more…)

Exodus 32:1-14, Matthew 22:1-14

October 13, 2008

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What is the true nature of God? Compassionate and forgiving? Severe and punishing? No question matters more, because we are asking about the basic character of reality. What is the ultimate context in which we live out our lives? How can we know? A good bet is to turn to the Bible, and yet even here the testimony does not speak with one voice. Today, for instance: suppose we had to live with the God portrayed in this reading from Exodus or from the Gospel. They present a wintery spiritual landscape. In the one, God says, “Now let me alone, so that my wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them.” And Moses replies, “Turn from your fierce wrath; change your mind and do not bring disaster on your people.” In the other reading, Jesus’s parable, God says, “Bind [the wedding guest] hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” If these were our only intimation of God’s nature life would be bleak indeed. (more…)

Exodus 20:1-20, Matthew 21:33-46

October 5, 2008

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Often the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Take the Ten Commandments. We cannot dispense with any one of them, yet if we step back and consider their entire structure, as such, we get a broader view of the mind of God. That is what I propose to do this morning, with two questions in view – two of humanity’s deepest questions. Who am I? What am I here for? (more…)