Friday, May 27, 2016

40 Old Testament Stories: Valley of the Dry Bones

This is one of the best known bits of prophecy.  It is also one of the favorites of clergy, I suspect because it is so easy to visualize.

The prophet Ezekiel is put down in a valley of bones.  We are told several times that the bones are dry.  The point is clear.  These are the remains of those who have died.  There is no life here.

God puts the bones together and breathes life into them.  Lest you miss the point: God is the giver of life.  God can bring life even in the midst of death; God can bring the dead to life and can bring life to places where there seems to be no life.  God is in control.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

40 Old Testament Stories: Job

The story of Job has tons of themes, but the one that I like the best is the way that God answers Job.

Job has lost everything and his friends are telling him that he must have done something to deserve it and if not then God is mean.  Job attempts a defense of God, but speaks as if he knows what he is talking about.

God, apparently, looses patience with Job and speaks to him.  What I love is how God starts.  God lists lots of things that happened at the creation of the world and asks Job where he was when those things happened, or how something came into being.  This is God being sarcastic.  It doesn't happen very often, but it's kind of fun to read.  This underlines one of the themes of the book of Job, and a theme that appears throughout Scripture: If you want to annoy God, speak as if you truly understand him and know what he wants - and if you really want to annoy him speak as if you know what he wants other people to do.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

40 Old Testament Stories: Esther

The story of Esther is one of those that has lead me to tell fifth and sixth grade boys that they shouldn't read the Old Testament because there is too much sex and violence in it. Which, of course, leads to them rushing to read it :)

The story of Esther is a story about doing what you can no matter where you find yourself.  It's also about taking risks for the people that you love.

This story is the core of the Jewish holiday of Purim which features a telling of the story and the giving of sweets to each other, especially three cornered cookies supposed to represent Haman's hat.