A friend of mine emailed me the following story. It sounds plausible and she is a quite reliable source. Whether the actual event occurred or not is not germane to the truth lurking in the story. So read and laugh a bit but take note of what is being said.
An ingenious example of speech and politics occurred recently in the U N General Assembly which made the world community smile ( probably not all of it though) . An Israeli representative began: ” Before beginning my talk I want to tell you something about Moses. When he struck the rock and it brought forth water ( Old Testament book of Exodus, Chapter 17, verse 6) he thought, ” What a good opportunity to have a bath.” He removed his clothes, put them aside on the rock and entered the water. When he got out and wanted to dress, his clothes had vanished. A Palestinian has stolen them.”
The Palestinian representative to the U N jumped up furiously and shouted, ” What are you talking about? The Palestinians weren’t there then.”
The Israeli diplomat smiled and said,” And now that we have made that clear, I will begin my speech.”
There are very few things any more satisfying or refreshing than a cup of cold water on a sweltering hot day. In my neck of the woods, there have been a bunch of those kind of days lately. As a letter carrier, I am out in the midst of that heat on a daily basis, so it is crucially important to maintain an adequate supply of liquids.
I have a couple of folks on my route that are kind enough to provide some welcome refreshment when I am delivering their mail. I am always very thankful for their kindness since it is something they do willingly out of the goodness of their hearts.
Their action brought a verse of scripture to mind, Mark 9:41.
For whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because of your name as followers of Christ, truly I( Jesus) say to you, he shall not lose his reward.
In New Testament days, water was a precious commodity as it still is in that part of the world. Saudi Arabia, for example , has to obtain virtually all of its water through desalinization. So, a gift of water was a precious gift indeed. Fortunately, water is not that hard to obtain for us. But, for me, it is still a precious and highly appreciated gift.
So, to these who give, I say, Shalom!
These were, in essence, the closing words from the 1977 made for television movie, Jesus of Nazareth. Having seen it a number of times in its entirety, and the resurrection section even more often, I still consider the best video presentation of the life of Jesus.
The production was directed by Franco Zeffirilli and starred Robert Powell as Jesus along with other more notable actors such as Olivia Hussey( Mary) Ernest Borgnine, Anne Bancroft, James Earl Jones, Rod Steiger ( a great Pontius Pilate) and Michael York ( John the Baptist) among others.
It was a two-part series that was annually aired every Easter for a number of years. I appreciated the reverence with which it was done as well as its faithfulness to the biblical record.
A number of things intrigued me but I will for obvious reasons focus on the resurrection section. It was almost underplayed, nothing flashy or dramatic, just an empty tomb with , a bit incongruously, an angel with an English giving the miraculous , unbelievable biblical quote ”Why do you seek the living among the dead? Jesus is not here. And the dramatic footage of an empty tome holding abandoned grave-clothes. The scene always spoke volumes to me. ( Had a kind of Jack Webb quality, just the facts)
But now the title quote. It was spoken by an extrabiblical character,an official of the Jewish temple. It was made in response to the reports that Jesus was not in the tomb. As best I remember, his character was a skeptic, but all the same, he knew something earthshaking had happened and things would never be the same.
His statement is not a bad response to the sermon title I saw this week on a local church sign, ” What does Easter mean to you? ” Yep, and so it began and so it continues today!
During the Christmas season, I am always reminded of what a wonderful blessing we have in music. As with most people, I have my favorites. But there is one Christmas song that seems to belong on an entirely different level. I am not musically literate enough to use the proper terminology so I will resort to describing it as a layman. The song is “The Hallelujah Chorus” from Handel’s Messiah.
My wife, the musically talented part of us has sung the entire Messiah on occasion and has tried to describe for me its difficulty and its majesty. The majesty part, i think i get. She and I attended a concert by the Albemarle Chorale this past Sunday which closed with the chorus. For me, an okay evening of music was again transformed by their presentation. I have heard it don ea number of times, perhaps my favorite was in Columbus, Ga at First Baptist Church which was our church at that time. Some twenty plus years later, it remains for me a special musical memory.
Don’t know if it is the music or the words that leap directly from the pages of the Bible (Isaiah, if you want to look it up) or the music or knowing that King George II was so moved that he may or may not have stood when it he first heard it. Audiences still stand though.
The Messiah was written in 1741-42 and first performed in Dublin in 1742 and I am thankful that it has endured to bring a touch of majesty to each Christmas season.
So, some time during your Christmas celebration, find a recording of the Chorus and enjoy!
The President’s foreign trip rolls on, a day after a significant speech in Cairo. I would venture to say it might be the most significant speech made by an American president in a Muslim country. In some ways, it reminds me of Nixon’s trip to China in 1972. Only Nixon could go to China, only Obama could go to Cairo. But enough of that.
What did the speech seek to accomplish and did it do that? I believe that is a many faceted answer. A speech heavy on references to the Quran versus references to the Bible, a greeting in Arabic , a pointed reference to his Arabic heritage and middle name had to at the least score points in the Arab world. He emphasized that America was not and had never been at war with Islam. Quick aside here, Bush said that same thing on more than one instance but of course it never gained traction.
Let’s see, what else to muse about . Iraq was not a war of choice while Afghanistan was. Wonder how troops in Iraq felt about that one. Israel came in for some criticism but perhaps most telling was that he did not go there. Saudi Arabia to Egypt to Germany. Sorry about that folks, I will talk a lot about what Israel needs to do and the 2 state solution, but just couldn’t find time on the schedule for you. Maybe I can send blue collar Joe or is it $2,400 suit Joe over there soon. One thing I would have liked to hear and I forget who said this. It would have been a good move to emphasize some of the positive things the United States has done in Muslim countries and , don’t laugh, there are a number of those.
So, will any actions follow the speech ( asked by a number of Muslim leaders) and how will it play in Peoria when he returns home? Remember the President himself said those pyramids in Egypt sure are big. So is his task.
Of all the things I considered posting about, for some reason, this one grabbed more of my attention. The Tony of our title would be former British Prime Minister Tony Blair. Mr Blair now travels the world on behalf of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation which seeks to promote understanding of the world’s main religions.
Mr Blair, who left the Church of England for Catholicism in 2007, recently had a private audience with the pontiff. He now sees fit to challenge the Pope’s “entrenched” ideas on homosexuality. Mr Blair believes that among religious people, attitudes towards the gay lifestyle are largely a generational thing. And he further concluded that the Pope is out of step with the public. He went on to say that religious figures everywhere should reinterpret their religious texts as metaphorical, not literal. If this happened, then in time all gay people would be accepted as equals.
Amazing is it not. Mr Blair leaves his church only recently and now seeks to alter the thinking of the head of Catholicism and encourage, no urge us to treat our Bibles as metaphorical. This gentleman, who served some ten years as Britain’s PM has now, at least from his perspective, become he who can bridge the generational and doctrinal gaps of religions.
I found this comment on Mr Blair from conservative Catholic Bill Donohoe, president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights. Mr Donohoe wonders where about Mr Blair’s position on church teachings on sexuality in general, not just this particular aspect. He made an interesting comment which I will quote and leave open to the reader’s interpretation.
” Moreover, there is a big difference between embracing someone who is a homosexual(no problem there) and embracing the gay lifestyle(big problem there) .
Interesting question indeed.
PS: Mr Blair would also like to become the President of the European Union (hmmm) .
For some, the name above is unfamiliar unless they are N C State fans or women’s basketball fans in general. And that is truly a shame. Ms Yow died a week ago at age 66 after a 20 year battle with breast cancer. I know her only from what I have read , both in recent days and over the years. It must have truly been a privilege to know her and count her as a friend or coach or colleague. She was an excellent, probably a great coach and yet that pales in comparison to how she both lived and died.
I have read a good bit of that written in recent days(today being her funeral) and am humbled by much of what I have learned. She planned her funeral, as many people do but took things somewhat further by recording a video that was shown at her funeral. I would like to quote just a bit from her comments for they are exceptionally moving and profound.
“‘…. I hope you won’t be really hearing Kay Yow speak, but you’ll be really hearing the Lord speak through me. I hope that he opens your ears, your eyes that you might see him in a very special way.” She went on to talk about heaven and encouraging all to rejoice with her in the realization that she was at rest. Bear in mind that this was prepared by one who knew her time was very short, but was assured of her final destination.
She was an individual who lived courageously, even smuggling Bibles into the Soviet Union in 1986 when coaching Team USA. However it could be that she has touched more lives in the last 2 years and even the last week than ever before.
Even though I see sports through a Carolina blue filter, I join the N C State family in saluting one of the best. May her legacy live on.
The above title came from a phrase that I was ” reliably ” quoted as using often as a young child . It says a couple of things , I guess . First, that I had a small problem with words ( here’s another – Esso spelled Pepsi -Cola ) and that I was a happy child which reportedly I was . As we age , it seems to become harder to be happy and even harder , nigh impossible to stay happy for any length of time . I am gradually and too slowly coming to grips with the idea that happiness is not the end all that some ( even preachers ) would have us believe but rather we should seek joy and/or contentment whichever speaks more to you . In church , we just finished a four week series on Habakkuk , who learned that happiness aint where its at , so to speak . Read through those three chapters sometime and specially focus on the last three verses in Chapter 3 . When we arrived at them today, I noticed numerous notes in my Bible that I had from a well done sermon from about 6 years ago from my then pastor, Dr Glynn Dickens . He and my current pastor , Mike Gothard approached the topic from different angles but with similar and well put conclusions . As Mike said , scripture abounds with lessons on contentment and joy but not so much happiness – see Hebrews 11 and Philippians 4:13 . So , I seek , not always successfully , to focus not the circumstances that change but on the realities that do not – Hebrews 13:8 .
I will never ever cease to be amazed at the levels of meaning in the the Scriptures . One can read a passage dozens of times and then all of a sudden ” see ” something that is new to you . Of that I will never tire . The latest example of that phenomenon happened to me just a day or so ago . The New Testament book of Romans is packed with lots of heavy theological concepts but also with practical teachings that can apply to many areas of our lives . Romans 12:9-21 encompasses by my count some 29 examples of those practical dos and donts . My focus for this post is the latter part of verse 19 ; Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord , which is a partial quotation from Deuteronomy 32:35. Not that I am in a vengeful mood or out to get even with anyone mind you but this is what hit me from this verse . God says that vengeance is His and if it is His , it cannot be ours and we neednt worry about the old bugaboo of getting even . I know that is such a simple concept but this time it sank in as never before . So , as I am going to endeavor to do, lock in this truth so that when the time comes for it to be apropos and come it surely will you and I will be prepared.
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