Jeremiah VII – Transitions

January 25, 2017

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We have heard much in these past weeks about having a peaceful transition of power.  Mary Baker Eddy wrote about the transitional qualities we should express: “Humanity, honesty, affection, compassion, hope, faith, meekness, temperance” (SH 115).  In this Wednesday’s service, we will be looking at the subject of transitions through the words of the prophet Jeremiah whose sentiments have been expressed by many of the citizens of today.  Jeremiah wrote, “Seek the peace of the city where I have caused you to be carried away captive, and pray to the Lord for it; for in its peace you will have peace” (Jer 29:7 NKJV).

The “peace” in this verse is from the Hebrew “shalom” which Strong’s translates as “completeness, soundness, welfare, peace.” Different Bible translations use different words, all striving to give a sense of shalom.  For example, the New International Version reads: “Seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper” (Jer 29:7 NIV).

The Bible readings from the Old Testament begin and end with references to life in the womb and childbirth.  According to Bible commentaries, “delicacy, growth, and maternal involvement are God’s work,” and “childbirth is a common metaphor for distress in the midst of crisis” (The New Oxford Annotated Bible, Ps 139:13 and Jer 30:6). I really like how these two concepts are addressed in the Science and Health paragraph on “scientific obstetrics” discussing “the birth of the new child, or divine idea” (SH 463:6).

Below is additional Bible commentary on Jeremiah from The New Oxford Annotated Bible:

Jeremiah 26:15 Innocent blood, the killing of an innocent person was a horrific crime that had disastrous consequences, especially in the perspective of Deuteronomy. 16-19: The charge is mitigated for two reasons. First, they recognize the prophet’s claim to immunity on the basis of being constrained by God to deliver a message. Second, the precedent of Micah is involved, with a rare quotation of an earlier book (Mic 3.12). Micah’s prediction of disaster did not come to pass because, it is argued, he successfully prompted Hezekiah to plead for divine favor. . . .20-23: The precedent of Uriah, however, indicated the danger facing Jeremiah. For exactly the same charge, Uriah was hunted down by Jehoiakim and executed.

Jeremiah 29:5 Build. . .plant, characteristic language of Jeremiah’s vision of restoration which will first occur in Babylon itself. 7: Welfare, that is “the peace” (Heb. shalom). They are to pray for the peace not of Jerusalem, but of Babylon.

Angels: Intuitions of Blessings

December 9, 2015

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     We all know how important angels were at the time of Jesus’ birth — directing Joseph, comforting Mary, and providing a heavenly chorus singing “On earth peace, good will toward men” (Luke 2:14.) For the next few weeks, our Wednesday readings are on Bible angels who were part of that heavenly chorus, but whose names we don’t know. We may not even know their nature, but we will learn more about them by the guidance they provided in preparing the way for the Messiah – the  Christ.
     This Wednesday, we are beginning with animals and angels, specifically the Balaam angel — the story of the talking donkey, and how animals intuitively see God’s way before we do.  Now gift wrap this thought with our traditional Christmas scene of Jesus’ birth in a manger — under the stars, surrounded by sweet animals, the gifts of diversity— all of God’s creation called to celebrate the Christ!
     That is just one message from this Bible story about pets and peace.  Now, I did find the conversation between God and Balaam confusing, but reading through the periodicals clarified it for me. In “Uninterrupted Progress,” Robert Ellis Key wrote:
Perhaps there was some hesitancy in Balaam’s obedience, maybe a lingering desire for wealth, promotion, and prestige. He had received instructions from God not to go with the princes of Moab, and not to curse Israel, yet he went to God for further direction. He turned to ask for instructions a second time and was permitted to go, because he was obviously not ready to obey.
     We know we are all God’s children who are meant to be blessed. Yet I still find myself being critical of others, and when you are judging others, you are not blessing. If you say, “Yes, but…,” it is like Balak and Balaam trying to find a way to curse the Israelites from a different angle. Eventually, Balaam does see the promise of the Messiah in the Israelites, just as we should see the Christ in each other.  Now that’s another good Christmas message from this story!
     I hope you can join us to hear about these angelic intuitions of blessings. We’d love for you to share your thoughts, experiences, and testimonies.