Tagged: compassion

Exodus 12:1-14

This text is used for the Lectionary Year A on September 10, 2017.

Much has happened between Exodus 3:1-15 and Exodus 12:1-14. God provides Moses with signs for the times. Moses receives a spoiler alert on how the encounter with Pharaoh will end and then God sends him back to Egypt to set the plan in motion. As foretold by God, a triad of plagues in triplets strike the land of Egypt as Pharaoh and God take turns in hardening the King’s heart. In this rhythmic dance, a noticeable pattern emerges, in the first two plagues of each triplet Pharaoh is warned and instructed to let the Israelites go. When he refuses, the aforementioned plagues take place. However, the final plague in each triplet comes upon Egypt without warning, and with each plague, the severity grows even worse. Now the tenth and final plague is given to Pharaoh affixed with a warning label of “extreme danger” as a disclaimer for disobedience. Here we find the Passover (Exodus 12:1-13:16), in between the call of Moses occurring “in the past” and the fulfillment of a promise by God “in the future” with special instructions for God’s people, Israel, to follow in between “in the present.” A closer inspection of Exodus 12:1-14 unveils the Passover is more than a dietary meal for the purpose of remembrance for the posterity of Israel. The Passover signifies the messiness of life, where the tension between the call of God and the realization of the promise of God takes place in our lives. It’s the “in between” phase of life where God doesn’t merely pass over His people, but provides them with a specific set of instructions for their obedience and ultimately their deliverance.

During this crucial stage of the journey, God relays to Moses and Aaron that a new day has dawned for His people, as God orders a blank slate on the tablet of time for chronicling the history and identity of the Israelites based on what God is about to do (Exodus 12:1-2). Whether the Hebrews would now have two calendars (a civic and religious) or recalibrate their existing way of tracking time, one thing is for certain, the 15th of Nisan has become the origin of a new axis, a new season and way of life. More than that, God places emphasis on the family unit, household, as the means by which the Passover is experienced and celebrated. The importance of community bears mentioning in a time where our current society places enormous emphasis on individuality.

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Isaiah 63:7-9

This text is used for the Lectionary Year A on January 1st, 2017.

iran-darroudi-paintings-paydari-jpglargeIsaiah 63:7 begins and closes with the same word, “ḥesed” which is translated, “steadfast love.”  This great encourager was wanting the recipients to reflect and remember on the goodness and compassion of God. As the people remembered God’s actions that demonstrated His “steadfast love” they would begin to join in praising God.

The writer of this passage may very well have inspired from Psalm 106:1-2 as it closely parallels the beginning of this passage. As this unidentified speaker was delighting in God’s steadfast love by drawing on two of God’s great characteristics – goodness and compassion he was encouraging the people to remember the mighty past deeds of God toward his people that consistently displayed His steadfast love for them.

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Luke 13:10-17

This text is used for the Lectionary Year C on August 21, 2016.

Strasbourg Cathedral - Jesus healing a woman on Sabbath
Strasbourg Cathedral – Jesus healing a woman on Sabbath

This passage carries us into a synagogue where Jesus is teaching. By this point in Luke’s gospel narrative, Jesus’ reputation in the region was established.  Jesus had performed several dramatic healings and exorcisms, fed the five thousand, and taught burgeoning crowds in cities and villages. Jesus stands and teaches, and those seeking healing have followed him.

The passage draws the audience into a moment when they are witnessing a dramatic act of compassion and healing. The gospel narratives most often portray those seeking healing as calling out and demanding Jesus’ attention. This, however, is a very different encounter. The nameless woman appears to have neither said nor done anything to draw Jesus’ attention. Jesus sees the woman, has compassion on her, and reaches out to her.

The woman had been bent and crippled, struggling in every move in every moment. Then, in a word her world is changed. Luke reports, “When he laid his hands on her, immediately she stood up straight and began praising God” (v. 13). She was surrounded by her friends and community of faith. One would think everyone would rejoice with her, yet a voice of objection calls out.

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Luke 7:11-17

This text is used for the Lectionary Year C on June 5, 2016.

St. Colman's Cathedral
St. Colman’s Cathedral

Immediately following the healing of the Gentile centurion’s slave in Capernaum, Jesus is found in the village of Nain, just five miles from his hometown of Nazareth in Upper Galilee. This story takes Jesus’ healing ministry up a notch. Here he will heal a dead man, demonstrating that neither illness nor even death have power over his messianic ministry. The progression moves from teaching in the Sermon on the Plain to healing in Capernaum to resuscitation in Nain. And the latter anticipates Jesus’ own resurrection to come.

Nain is mentioned only here in the Bible. The widow is Jewish and the death of her only son indicates the end of the family line. This woman is now on her own. Her father and husband are gone, and now her son has died. This grief leaves her not only alone, but also vulnerable. She now will have no family to care for her and will have to depend upon the kindness of her neighbors, since such a woman would have lacked the capacity to provide for her own wellbeing.

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