Traditions

Daily Scripture readings for September, set #17:

Judges, chapters 10-12
Psalm 87
Mark 6:45-56
1 Corinthians 11:17-34

My gut reaction to the Judges 11 account of Jephthah’s vow and the subsequent death of his only daughter is to think it a shame, and imagine that God would have had compassion on Jephthah and listened to his request to get out from under his own vow. I think the real issue, however, is the seriousness with which Jephthah treats his words before the Lord: “For I have opened my mouth to the Lord, and I cannot take it back” (vs 35). This reminds me of Jesus’ words in Matthew 12.

The poetry about Zion in Psalm 87 is strange. I know I don’t fully understand it, but it seems like vs 6 is significant: “The Lord records as he registers the peoples, ‘this one was born there.'” Is this the same kind of thing as being “set apart” before birth (i.e. Gal 1:15, etc).

Here again at the close of Mark chapter 6 is the strange reality of people being healed by merely touching Jesus’ garment. “And wherever he came, in villages, cities, or countryside, they laid the sick in the marketplaces and implored him that they might touch even the fringe of his garment. And as many as touched it were made well” (vs 56). I wonder if Jesus responded the same way in this instance as in Mark 5:30.

“For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died” (1Cor 11:29-30). Wow. Did Paul really just say that people in the church at Corinth were DYING because they took communion disrespectfully?

Daily Scripture readings for September, set #18:

Judges, chapters 13-15
Psalm 88
Mark 7:1-23
1 Corinthians 12:1-13

The Sunday school version of the Samson story leaves so many things out compared to actually reading Judges. For example, chapter 14 explaining God’s intention behind Samson taking a Philistine wife: “His father and mother did not know that it was from the Lord, for he was seeking an opportunity against the Philistines” (vs 4). So God prompts Samson to desire a Philistine woman because God is looking for an excuse to throw down.

Psalm 88… whew. Not exactly the most encouraging chapter of the Bible. “You have put me in the depths of the pit, in the regions dark and deep. Your wrath lies heavy upon me, and you overwhelm me with all your waves” (vs 6-7). Bummer, dude. It’s interesting to me that this chapter doesn’t really end with the typical “and-yet-I-will-trust-the-Lord” response to suffering. Rather, the dark tone of the Psalm persists through the very last verse.

Jesus’ Isaiah quote in Mark 7 and his lambasting of the Pharisees reminds me of the music style in a worship service, the volume of the music in a worship service, the carpet and other decor choices for a sanctuary, and other divisive issues. Traditions aren’t themselves a problem, but they can certainly distract us to the point that we ignore God’s word… “thus making void the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down” (vs 13).

1 Corinthians 12, verse 3: “Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says ‘Jesus is accursed!’ and no one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except in the Holy Spirit.” It is the Holy Spirit that enables you to proclaim Christ and Lord, both to yourself and to others.

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