The book of Nahum

“You have increased the number of your merchants till they are more than the stars of the sky, but like locusts, they strip the land and then fly away.” (Nahum 3:16)

Warning: according to Grammarly, my post today sounds worried and sad. 😬

Here, like in my Bible post on Joel, we have mention of the locusts again, generations after Jonah warned them of their evil ways the Assyrian city, Nineveh, has forgotten God again. Nahum is a prophet who had a vision of Nineveh’s destruction and is sent by God to warn them. The city was destroyed fifty years after Nahum’s prophecy.

So (forgive my venting) here is my prophecy, sort of: In 2019 our economy was doing very well. Just about every cute and affordable home in my neighborhood (I live in a historic downtown) was bought and torn down to make way for large and expensive ones. What happens when the character and the spirit of a place die? When I look at much of my town now, I feel like life itself has been stripped away from this place and replaced with the synthetic, opportunistic goals of a dying people. The houses they build look so cold and dead to me. What happens when the economy tanks and regular folks like me can’t afford big houses like that or can’t afford to maintain them? Not to mention the environmental impact when buildings are torn down, discarded, and new ones are built in their place. What happens to the neighborhood, the city, the people?

Once the area is no longer suited to their investment needs the newcomers who are using these homes solely to increase their pocketbooks will move on. And who will be left but the people who had always called this town their home–but now my town is almost unrecognizable, ruined (in my opinion) by opportunistic people (locusts) such as these.

The book of Jonah

“You have been concerned about this plant [providing you shade], though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. And should I not have concern for the great city Nineveh, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left—and also many animals?” (Jonah 4:10-11)
Jonah loved a single leaf that was providing him shade while he sat back to watch what would become of the evil city of Nineveh, but he sat idly by while a worm ate up the leaf he loved. How stupid, right? Well God explains that God too, loved the people of Nineveh, so how can God sit idly by and watch a “worm” (evil) eat it up? God sent Jonah, a prophet, to relay God’s message to the king of Nineveh, but Jonah disliked the people of the city so much he escaped this call, in which case he was brought back to the city in a whale’s mouth.
The story of Jonah is so charming and cute! Though it is meant to be looked at as an allegorical tale, I think it shows God’s sense of humor, and that God will stop at nothing, when God calls, to show us what our calling is. Not only that, but it proves that God’s call for us is to help each other see God, recognize God, and know that God loves us no matter who or what we are/were. And its message says that we are to help those we dislike. Even those who storm the capital because of their “confusion”. How can you help someone see God today, tomorrow, etc.?

The book of James

“With the tongue, we praise our Lord and Father and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters this should not be. Can freshwater and saltwater flow from the same spring? My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.” (James 3:8-11)

I often make the mistake of talking too much, not so much in large crowds anymore, but in small groups. I know and understand now why monks take an oath of silence. The more I talk the further away from my real self, my Godself, I seem to get. I feel more like myself when I am alone—when I don’t have to react, or entertain, or respond. I remember Joan Chittister said the same thing in her book ‘Called to Question’. I often come away from parties or small get-togethers thinking I must be two different people. A part of me likes to make people laugh and the other part likes silence and is serious and reflective. I often have trouble accepting my funny side, it feels slippery to me–like I say too much to please the ears of people and in these hasty, split-second moments, I seem to disregard God’s presence in my life and this makes me uncomfortable. I guess my conundrum right now is how to be myself and not hinder or stagnate my spiritual growth. And maybe I’m taking it too seriously. I have given up cursing other people, but it’s making a fool of myself that I sometimes regret, even though it makes me laugh. I know there is a way to be a balanced version of both. I pray I’m able to find that balance.

The book of Amos

“Seek good, not evil, that you may live.” (Amos 5:14)
What if we changed this a bit? Instead of God always pointing at us with these statements, God instead points back at God. What if we changed it to, “Seek good, not evil, that GOD may live.”? Now we seek good not for ourselves, but for the sake of Creation, for the sake of God, which will have a trickle effect on the people of the world. Now it is changed to a deeper sense of allegiance and duty. God must exist for creation to exist. If we are always seeking good, then we are seeking God and in doing so we keep God alive, not only within ourselves but in all we do for others and for the planet: recycle, plant a garden, laugh with our children, sing, etc. The more we seek the good, the more we are seeking God. The more we seek God, the more we will see God everywhere and get to know God and be close to God, and our union in this way will do us the most good, and that goodness can be shared with our neighbors so it grows and God may live.

The Book of Joel

“Blow the trumpet in Zion; sound the alarm on my holy hill. Let all who live in the land tremble, for the day of the Lord is coming. It is close at hand…” (Joel 2:1)
Here Joel is the watchman warning the people of the plague of Locusts who will devour all the vegetation and make the land have the appearance of death, dry as if to not have any life. It will be devoured by gluttony and greed and selfishness—qualities we can give to the locusts as they work on these terms. This reminded me of Isak Dinesen’s experience with the grasshoppers on her farm in Africa. In her book, ‘Out of Africa’, she explains the intense fear the people have of these creatures. A messenger would ride from town-to-town warning farmers of their coming. They would come in swarms. They would black out the sky. People would try to hold them back, but their numbers were so great it was no use. The devastation was immense.
A few years ago, I kept getting a waking vision of a train coming at me. I saw the light and felt the speed of the train as it barreled toward me. I knew it would hit me, I knew, and I could feel something terrible was coming but like most ‘visions’, I disregarded it as my imagination and ignored all warnings to prepare myself for disaster. What could I have done anyway when it hit so to blackout the sky? Not a year later disaster struck my family more than once and left us all terribly injured emotionally for many years and still recovering. Is it possible that we have watchmen for our own lives? Would we call it the Holy Spirit? When it moves, when it aches, when it laughs will we disregard it as our imagination? Or will we heed its gestures to love more, help more, say more?

The book of 1 & 2 Thessalonians

“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this, is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” –(1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)

This first letter from Paul to the Thessalonians was misinterpreted. So he wrote a second letter (2 Thessalonians) to urge them to quit their idleness and get to work as some in the church had heard Paul’s first message and stopped working just to wait for the Lord’s second coming. They had become a burden to their church because the church had begun to support them. It is the same when the angels told the disciples to stop gazing at the sky when Jesus was lifted to heaven (Acts 1:11). They needed to take Christ with them everywhere they went as they worked and as they played. Study and prayer in solitude is an excellent way to center yourself in God, but then we must take God with us out into the world. And when we are out mingling with people, we learn a lot of lessons, more lessons, about ourselves especially, than if we were studying scripture alone all the time. It is one of the reasons group Bible study can be good, people learn more from others than from themselves. Who knows, you may be the eyes that group needs to see a verse interpreted in a different light.

The book of Daniel

💥 HAPPY NEW YEAR!!💥 First Bible post of 2021…

“No wise man, enchanter, magician or diviner can explain to the king the mystery he has asked about, but there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries…” (Daniel 2:27-28)

Here Daniel is called to interpret a dream of the feared king of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar. I found it so interesting that the Babylonian king is given human-like qualities. Up to this point, we have only seen him as an oppressor of the Israelites, an ugly ruler off in the distance ready to kill and conquer. It made the vision of Babylon that much scarier to have a faceless, evil ruler. But here, he is pictured wondering and frightened by a dream he had. Nebuchadnezzar is putting himself in a vulnerable position by telling Daniel his dream. The dream is a warning for the king to change his ways, but twelve months go by and the king hasn’t changed. He’s as prideful as ever. So, as the king is admiring his kingdom on what seems like a peaceful day at the palace, a voice from the heavens interrupts his peace and he is cast-off to eat grass like the ox and live among the wild animals. When the king finally casts away his pride and gives credit to God his kingdom is restored to him.

This is true of anyone, our pride can only carry us for so long. God wants us to surrender it, like a soldier giving up their sword, because pride is the one major thing that separates a soul from its union with God (what #buddhists call, enlightenment). God wants to restore our peace and true peace can only exist if pride is surrendered.

Book of Ezekiel

First, you might wonder what this image is, it is the Holy Face of Jesus, the image that appeared clearly on the veil of Veronica. It is a powerful meditation and relevant to this post because how can one be a good watch person when their senses are destroyed like the senses of Christ were destroyed when he was crucified?

“Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the people of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me.” (Ezekiel 3:17)

Ezekiel was a prophet and a “watchman” for the Israelites while they were in Babylon. When I first read through the Bible, I began a study on the word watchman. It appears several times and it fascinated me. What is a watchman? Who is a watchman? Its meaning is not easily articulated. But put simply, in a theological sense, watchmen watch for God and they watch for things contrary to God. They know what God sounds like, looks like, feels like, etc., and they know what God doesn’t look like, sounds like, feels like, etc.—a skill that can be useful when navigating the world. There is a prophet in each of us that knows how to navigate the entities of good and evil and everything in between. We are all called to be that watch-person). Environmentalists, justice seekers, those who practice inclusion, anyone on the frontlines of this pandemic, and I can be a watch-person by speaking out when I am called. And I am open to my ‘post’ changing over time. Next time I may be called to act instead of speak, or I may be called to be silent. No matter what the watch-person is called to do, the most important thing we can do is to be one with God in all we do and send what is contrary to God, God’s love and peace