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Rector's Reflection

June 6, 2017

During the month of June, our Wednesday morning Bible study will be taking a break while I recover from back surgery. While we are on break, I wanted to share some of the happenings from that study. When I arrived in August, I asked the group what they wanted to study. A request was made to do some Old Testament history. So, in September, we began with the book of Joshua. The idea was to study Joshua, Judges, 1 and 2 Samuel and 1 and 2 Kings.

Part way through our study of Joshua, a question arose about how, as people of faith, we squared our citizenship within a nation to our citizenship in the Kingdom of God. (Remember that the Kingdom of God characterizes the world as it will be when God’s values – loving God and loving neighbor – are ascendant.) That conversation led me to propose a detour on our history study through the book of Revelation. Since January, we have been (slowly) making our way through the final book of the Bible.

Revelation is a tough text. It’s full of symbolism and metaphor and very strange images. Throughout the class, we talked about the tensions that Christians experienced when Revelation was first written (around 90 CE) and today. Christians in the time of Revelation were faced with the choice between collaborating with the Roman empire and its culture of emperor worship or being faithful to Jesus. Faithfulness to Jesus meant real consequences for those people – things like hunger, unemployment and sometimes even death. Today we face tensions of our own – when the values of our own nation conflict with the values of Jesus. We wrestled with those questions a great deal.

We also heard a call to be participants in the renewal of our world. As Christians, our allegiance is not to “the kingdoms of this world” but to God and to God’s new community in heaven. But, that allegiance doesn’t mean mistreating the earth of abandoning this world. We are called to be stewards of creation and to care for our brothers and sisters in need.

Finally, we found the book of Revelation to be a hopeful text. Yes, it’s filled with strange images and metaphors and violence. However, at the end of the book, when the old heaven and earth pass away, and the new city comes from heaven, the gates of that city are wide open. Revelation 21:25 says, “Its gates will never be shut by day - and there will be no night there.” In other words, residence in God’s renewed and holy city is open to anyone who is willing and able to walk through the gates.

As you can see, our Wednesday morning Bible Studies are full of lively discussion. Our group will be taking a break in June and early July. We will return to our study of the biblical histories in the Old Testament in July. On July 12th, we will begin a short study (2-3 weeks max) of the book of Judges, followed by 1st and 2nd Samuel. 1st and 2nd Samuel and 1st and 2nd Kings are the core of the Old Testament histories – and they are truly fun to read. There’s some drama in those books – and they often feel a bit like a soap opera! I hope that you can join us, as we read through these texts and learn some of the history.

Our Sunday morning Bible study takes a break for the summer when we go down to two services. Watch the Evangeline for news about the women’s Wednesday afternoon Bible study. 

Blessings, Rev. Fran +