Scriptures and Reflections for the week of July 15-20

Monday, July 15

Hebrews 1:1-4

 In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs.                                                                                                            Okay, if you managed to read all the way through, did you find yourself rolling your eyes and shaking your head?  Or did a light bulb go on and you had one of those great “aha” moments?  I will honestly say that when I read this (three times) it was more like watching a helium filled balloon float off into the skies, landing who knows where.  And I would not bother to pursue its journey.  Some of the phrases have a ring of truthful reality.  Others should leave you shaking your heads.  So, this week we will try to unpack a very grandiose statement.  It is important to know that this passage was not meant so much for the gentiles (that is most all of us) but for those whose anchor to the Almighty was their Jewish faith.  Stretching our minds around concepts that seem unfathomable or distant is a form of spiritual discipline.  So the search for meaning begins.

Tuesday, July 16

In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways,  

In your childhood years did one of your parents ever say “what would the neighbors think” or “why are you hurting your mother” or the dreaded “wait till father gets home.”  Our ancestors of all kinds spoke to us, and still do.  Often we an attribute some of our convictions and behaviors either as lessons learned or something we did not want to do.  If we forget the lessons of the elders, or dismiss them from our hearts and minds, we run the risk of losing who we are meant to be.  Both Jew and Gentile wrestled with how God, and now Jesus, would continue to speak even in their physical absence.  For the moment go no further than the lessons you learned from your elders – those in the faith, in the family, and in the communities in which you lived.  And give thanks to God for the ways in which they still speak to you.

Wednesday, July 17

but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, 

“And the word became flesh and dwelled among us.”  At the very heart of our faith is the idea that God became flesh in Jesus Christ. Nassim Nicholas Taleb, am Orthodox Christian economic philosopher, had a fascinating way of describing WHY God came among us in the person of Jesus – NOW, GOD HAS SKIN IN THE GAME.  I once heard a Pastor describe the difference between to young ministers. “ˆf you fall out of a boat and are drowning in the lake, the one will grab a life ring and throw it to the victim and give instructions on what to do.  The other will jump into the water and swim with you till you are safe.”  That is the essence of what God has done in Jesus Christ – for us.  It also reminds us that we best represent our Lord not by giving lofty instructions, but by jumping into the mess and struggling with the person till safety is there.  As God in Jesus has skin in the game, so let us as the people of Jesus act in like fashion.  

Thursday, July 18

. . . whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe.

Morgan Freeman in “The Story of God” (which is available on Netflix) offered a very intriguing comment, that God exists outside the space-time continuum.  Our universe is somewhere around 14billion years old, way too much to fathom.  Stephen Hawking in one of his works believed that eventually we will figure out how everything works.  But the real task is what does it mean?  It is the meaning of our lives for which we hunger.  When we approach Jesus Christ we are approaching the one who defines meaning and purpose, our deepest hunger and greatest need amidst the clamor of voices and the cacophony of sound blasting us every day.  Take time to approach the one who helps us with how to live.

Friday, July 19

The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word.

This rather grandiose claim makes a very important point, though maybe not exactly as the author was thinking.  Each of the four gospels gives us a slightly different look at Jesus (Matthew – teachings, Mark – action Luke – compassion, and John – a world view).  Likewise each of the letters and histories of the New Testament provide insights and observations.  Just as Hebrew Scriptures so often point to a more complete expression of God.  The ultimate point is that Jesus tells us who God is and what God is beyond us.  In the same complex way, all of us represent Jesus Christ with each of us doing so in slightly different ways.  Looking to Jesus we learn more about who we are to be and how we are to live.  If Jesus is God’s working model, we are the working models of Jesus Christ.  Such is our witness and in all of this God will sustain us.

Saturday, July 20

After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. 

Contemplate the forgiveness of sins.  A more literal translation of the Lord’s Prayer would be “forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.”  This quality of redemptive mercy is at the very heart of restored intimacy and genuine love.  Have you ever tried to dine with someone who refuses to forgive you or with whom you cannot discuss forgiveness?  It makes for a really lousy meal.  We forgive because God has forgiven us.