Cover Tax

Years ago there was a preacher who worked with a congregation in a small Midwestern city. Now, one of the members of this congregation was a wealthy woman who regularly contributed a large sum to the church; more than anyone else. This, she thought, gave her the right to tell the preacher what his topics should be. Continue reading

Ritual

What are your thoughts concerning ritual? If we claim that something has become ritualistic, we usually mean that the act is being done superficially, devoid of original intent or substance. Right? We say things like, “That’s just ritual” or “That group is so ritualistic”. And if something is deemed “ritual” it is understood to be an observance sans substance. And if a group is “ritualistic” they are shallow in their approach to Yahweh. Continue reading

Grabbed by the Presence

When I was in college and taking Greek – just for fun – my teacher told us that we would have to work on our studies every day. We started out as a class of nine. Apparently, not many people find Greek to be fun. Go figure. We ended up with three. And we ended up with three because six people neglected to take the teacher’s advice seriously. Continue reading

Holier

Surely the people who enter into the very presence of God are holier than say those who don’t. Surely they are smarter or wiser or more knowledgeable in the ways of Yahweh. There is a danger lurking here. We, as God’s people can begin to believe we are God’s people because, well, we understand what there is to understand about God. Continue reading

Ordained

Awhile back I had surgery on my shoulder. Picture the surgeon standing there in his regular clothes, no mask, no gown, no telescoped glasses and with nothing in his hands. Now, how is he supposed to do surgery with nothing in his hand? That is not how I want to picture my surgeon. Let’s fill his hands with whatever he needs to do the job; let’s put the mask and gown on so there is less chance of infection. And I definitely don’t want to picture a cartoonish doctor with a meat cleaver or chainsaw in his hand. Continue reading

Holy Clothes

Years ago I heard a preacher use God’s instructions concerning priestly garments as means to beat people over the head for not dressing up on Sunday morning. I mean some of the people were wearing jeans on a Sunday morning. I wonder if some of those jeans were holey. This brings up an important rule of interpretation. Continue reading

The Courtyard

Sometimes our culture influences our approach to God. Have you noticed? God commanded the construction of a courtyard in which the Tabernacle or dwelling of God would be housed. Importantly, there is one courtyard. There is no Court of Women or Court of Gentiles. Nope. Not even a hint of these other courtyards which seemed to pop up by the time of Jesus. And the very existence of these courtyards is to communicate that the men of Israel were better than the women of Israel who were better than any Gentile any day. Continue reading

The Altar

Should you drive through flowing water? Hm, well . . . where and under what circumstances? If we’re talking about a flash flood flowing over a street and you are not in immediate danger, don’t drive through it. Too many have been swept off of roads under those circumstances. But if you are going to drive in the country of Honduras, you are going to either drive through some rivers or not go anywhere. Continue reading

The Tabernacle

When I was a child, my family moved around quite a lot. I don’t think I went to any school more than two years. I was always leaving behind friends. For awhile, we went to the same church and that was cool because some of my cousins also attended that church. But then we moved away and once again I was leaving the familiar people for people who were strangers. I mean other than my family who were a completely different kind of strange. Continue reading

The Menorah

On our trip back from Washington State, we stopped to explore the Lewis and Clark caverns in Montana. After descending into the mountain, our guide asked us to turn off anything that might produce light. Then she turned off the lights in the cavern, with only a lantern being lit. It was considerably darker, but manageable. Continue reading