Sunday, April 29, 2012

April 29 - Fourth Sunday in Easter (Protestant)

Today’s Scriptures: From the Book of Common Prayer

Psalm 63, 98, 103

Exodus 28:1-4, 30-38

1 John 2:18-29

Mark 6:30-44

Today’s Question:

How can we identify and take comfort in the eternal nature of God?

Today’s Reflection:

Lately, many of the weekly passages have struck me with the conflict between our temporal view of events and God’s eternal view of the same events. Today’s passages are no different as the Eternal comes in direct contact with humanity. From the Psalms to the Gospel, God’s nature versus human nature contrast time-bound and eternal ideas.

The Psalms provide us a Hebrew understanding of God’s eternity with phrases like “as long as I live,” and “from everlasting to everlasting.” Eternity was bounded by time (a LONG period of time, but time nonetheless) as Jewish history was connected to God’s direct involvement and memory of those events served as the timekeeper. Many Hebrew traditions serve to preserve the memory of events, keeping them eternal.

In Exodus, elaborate directions describe the priestly vestments for Aaron and his sons. Each part of the garment and adornment on it held symbolism for the Israelites and their history with God. When the people saw it, it reminded them of different aspects of their special relationship. Every detail had purpose in preserving the eternity of God’s interaction with his people.

The writer of 1 John warns about antichrists working in the early church. These false teachers strayed from the teaching of Christ. For whatever reason they had, they did not promote the truth of Christ, but changed the message. The author reminds us in verse 24, “let what you heard from the beginning abide in you.” He is telling us to stick to the teachings of Christ and that if we stray from those lessons, then we risk losing our relationship with God. The same works for us today: stick with scripture as guided by the Holy Spirit and we are ok, stray from that guidance and we enter dangerous theological territory.

The Gospel story in Mark tells one of Christ’s miracles witnessed by thousands of people. It too gives us a lesson on eternal versus temporal thinking. Christ provides for the immediate needs of the crowds who had gathered at the location of what was intended as a retreat for Christ and his apostles. Despite the “invasion,” Christ took the opportunity to teach and further the ministry. Even after the disciples suggested calling it off so the people could get to nearby towns and find food, Jesus suggested they feed the people instead. The disciples had just returned from their first mission on which they had taught and performed acts from the authority given to them, yet they could not imagine feeding such a large crowd. The meal from such meager stores provided a practical demonstration of the difference between eternal and temporal thinking.

Examples from each of the passages today give us insight in to shifting our thinking from the natural temporal thinking toward eternal kingdom thinking. Events in the Psalms, understanding the symbolism of the priestly vestments, discerning true teaching, and acting on faith provide guidelines we may continue to use today to determine the eternal nature of God and live within those perimeters. We can take comfort in the assurance of our right relationship with God.

Today’s Prayer:

Let us open our eyes to the larger picture of your kingdom.