Many of us are familiar with the Passover story. Pharaoh of Egypt forced Israel into cruel slavery. The Lord God sent Moses to rescue his people. After nine plagues, Pharaoh still refused to let them go. Finally, the Lord God deals a final blow. The plague of affliction passes through Egypt, killing every firstborn, forcing Pharaoh to let Israel go (Exodus 12:29).
We often fail to notice that the Egyptian households were not the only ones with someone dead during the Passover. Someone died in the Israelite households too. Prior to that night, the Lord God gave Israel specific instructions. They were to take a lamb several days prior. It was to be a male, which made sense because males were often used for meat and females saved for milking and breeding. It was to be a year old, which would have made it virtually an adult animal. They were to calculate the need for one meal for each household. If a household was too small for a lamb, they were to share it with their neighbor. This was to be their last supper in Egypt, and it was to be a feast.
The philosopher Alasdair Macintyre said that for something to be understandable it must find its place in a story. For example, suppose you are waiting outside a store on Main Street when all the sudden a young man comes up to you and says, “The Latin name of the common wild duck is Histrionicus histrionicus histrionicus.” The sentence makes complete sense, but you have no idea what to make of it. Maybe this young man suffers from mental illness, and he is repeating this phrase for no apparent reason. Maybe he has mistaken you for someone else he met at the last meeting of his bird watching club. He thinks you are the person who asked him, “Do you happen to know the Latin name of the common wild duck?” To which he now answers your question from the other day. Maybe this young man is a spy, and he just uttered the code sentence to identify himself to his contact.
As I sit at home with my wife under a stay at home order for our state I am grateful. Just a few short months ago the world went about its everyday routine at a frenetic pace, nothing could affect us (or so it seemed), we were – we thought – masters of our own fate. Now store shelves are empty, many things are in short supply and will become even harder to get. This virus, this disease we now call Covid-19 is seemingly the topic of most of our conversations and the focus of our day. Yet what we have is a forced slow down, a grinding to a halt of all economic and social systems.
The season of Advent reminds us that we continue to long for the second coming of our Savior, when all things will be restored to God’s intended glory. As we wait for his second coming, seeing how the Old Testament stories pointed to his first coming can fill our hearts anew with hope.
There is a flower more exquisite than any found on earth. The purity of its white hue, the fragrance of its perfume, the permanency of its bloom compares with nothing else. I speak figuratively of the Christian way of love. It is the fruit of the faith, the hallmark of Christian belief.
It has been said that Christians are so heavenly minded they are of no earthly good. While this may be the case with some Christians, this ought never to be the case with the Christian faith. Continue reading →
Recently I met a friend I had not seen since the pandemic began. He was not his characteristic confident self. He was fear stricken. Understandably being in his 70’s he must be prudent and safe, but his demeanor was that of anxiety and fear as was our conversation. Continue reading →
In the Book of Acts, Philip the Evangelist is led to a very prominent and prosperous Ethiopian eunuch. When Philip comes up to this eunuch’s chariot, he hears him reading a scroll of the Book of Isaiah, “He was led like a sheep to the slaughter, and as a lamb before its shearer is silent, so he did not open his mouth. In his humiliation he was deprived of justice. Who can speak of his descendants? For his life was taken from the earth.” (Acts 8:26-39) Continue reading →
What will you pray for? As this slow calamity unfolds around the world and in America what will you pray for? At some point in the future, we may be able to look back and discern some of what God is doing through this worldwide calamity. But not now. Now we must reflect and pray. Continue reading →
Hope is a powerful force in our lives. The Austrian neurologist and Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl, said of Holocaust prisoners, “The prisoner who had lost his faith in the future – his future – was doomed. With his loss of belief in the future, he also lost his spiritual hold; he let himself decline and became subject to mental and physical decay.” Hope dramatically impacts our ability to cope in life. However, what we place our hope in determines whether that hope can hold up to the heat, when tragedy strikes. Continue reading →