Updated: Jan 30
Recently, the Primates of the Anglican Communion voted to suspend the Episcopal Church U.S.A. from having any influence in rule changes and law restructuring for the global Church, for three years. After that period of suspension, a review and follow-up vote will determine if the two churches become permanently split.
At the core of this issue is the spread of influence that the Episcopal Church has allowed (if not supported and urged on), towards members seeking gay rights. This largely focuses on the blessing of same sex marriages, but that issue is a result of homosexuals having been elevated into positions of authority, leading the acceptance of changes to that end, with sights set on the global community being forced by ritual dogma being rewritten to bless the sin of adultery.
That becomes a perfect background for the readings today, in particular what Paul wrote in his first letter to the Christians of Corinth. While not overtly stated, as if Paul said, “This defines our Church!” a Christian Church is “one body” with members serving different roles, “all made to drink of one Spirit” and “all baptized into one body.”
The “one body” that IS the Church OF CHRIST – and not any institution that serves any god other than Yahweh, OUR LORD – is not a new religion, replacing that first given by God to the Israelites, through Moses. It has the SAME laws, with the caveat being One Mind through which the laws are understood.
That One Mind comes from the wisdom of the Holy Spirit, as seen in the body of Jesus of Nazareth, who was the Christ, and the human Son of God. We must ALL share that One Mind and be reborn into that body … all Christians in him and him in all Christians.
Many people think (so it seems) this is an easy transformation. However, it is not easy at all.
Unfortunately, it is not as easy as clicking your heels three times, while saying, “I wish I were Christian”.
Since Moses first led the Israelites out of Egypt and into the Sinai wilderness – NOTHING has changed! The modern Christian churches [all those that have come since the Church of Rome first took control] continually – just as the Tabernacle-Temple-led Israelites did continually – suffer through starts and sputters. One step forward, followed by two steps backwards.
Thus, we read throughout the Old Testament how there would be forty years of compliance to the laws, followed by forty years of straying. During the straying periods, things would get so bad – so many would be persecuted and killed – that someone would cry out to the LORD for Salvation – adding, “Please forgive us for thinking it was okay to do (fill in the blank).”
Sin … Atone … Sin again. (Repeat)
The people would place all their trust in one mortal leader, rather than each being a member of one Spiritual body, all controlled by the Mind of God. When the mortal leader dies, all hell breaks loose.
We are in one of those periods NOW, where we casually sit about thinking it is okay to do whatever makes us happy, expecting the Church to condone it, accept it, forgive it, and bless all our sins away. Our faith is not in God, but in a surrogate of our choosing … one who preaches in the little church down the lane.
Let me be the first to announce: The Church is not a social club that caters to the whims of the membership.
The ones who pay more to the Church are not owed special privilege by the Church.
The Church cannot pretend that it can step in for YOU, when YOU die and stand before God for judgment. The Church cannot play Jesus or God. The Church cannot act like a mother hen coddling a brood of sinners.
You leave my black one alone. I love it like all the rest.
If and whenever that state of church sets in, such an organization ceases to be a Church OF CHRIST.
In the Old Testament reading from Nehemiah, we read: “Accordingly, the priest Ezra brought the law before the assembly, both men and women and all who could hear with understanding.” It is important to realize how “all who could hear with understanding” means more than just a gathering of big brained people.
The “law of Moses, which the Lord had given to Israel” is NOT easily understood by atheists, agnostics, Communists, or members of religions serving other gods. If having the body part called a brain was all one needed to understand what the Covenant with God requires from one (in return for God’s blessings), then the whole world could WRONGLY call itself Jews (or Christians).
If reading the books of the Holy Bible is all it takes to gain eternal life, then the promised rewards of God are easy to come by. However, reading and understanding are two different things.
Understanding the law of Moses, as well as ANYTHING written in the Sacred texts of the Holy Bible, requires a deep emotional commitment to God AND faith that understanding will come forth via divine inspiration. Understanding is necessary, in order to maintain one’s trust in God’s word.
We read, “For all the people wept when they heard the words of the law.” One does not weep from an intellectual ability to comprehend a written language. One weeps because one has been shown a deeper meaning, one that goes so far beyond the surface meaning that the written words that understanding becomes proof of the power of God … enough for one to cry happy tears, for being allowed to see that meaning.
This woman’s tears are because the Church of England allowed women priests. Her tears were from a heart raised to help ALL others … not just to advocate women’s rights.
You will notice how Nehemiah does not write about how some of the assembly stood up and objected to the interpretation given by Ezra, Nehemiah and the Levites. No one complained about what was interpreted to the people, which gave them sense to understand, saying that interpretation offended some of the people who were there. No one tried to find a loophole in a law, because it was a law one was breaking (along with others one knew), in an attempt to pervert the understanding of the whole gathering.
The Jews of Nehemiah’s Second Temple “revival” was after Judah had lost everything their Covenant with God had provided their ancestors. They lost everything because of those who diluted the law of Moses, to the point of total disregard. They were attempting to regain an understanding like that held by the people in ancient days – before the corruption had set in.
Last week, in the Gospel story of the wedding in Cana, we heard how the chief steward told the bridegroom, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.” How many of you understood how to interpret that so it says, “The Israelites did good to serve God at first, but after they were drunk with the sense of being special, they began to settle for lesser gods“? The arrival of Jesus has brought out the best wine – God’s eternal Salvation for those who drink it.
That meaning IS there, but it helps if someone with strong vision can assist your faith by exposing that truth to you. The name Ezra means “Help” or “Strong Vision.” Ezra read the law and interpreted it for the people.
Still, as we see today, there are those who cannot see that depth of meaning in the “water to wine” miracle. There are many who refuse to understand more than what suits their own needs.
Seriously, can you not see how the “chief steward” is God and the “bridegroom” is Christ?
In the psalm of David today, verse seven sings, “The law of the Lord is perfect and revives the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure and gives wisdom to the innocent.” When one realizes the Sacred texts are from the perfection of God, one needs to realize the equal need to have a higher MIND for understanding.
A human brain is too flawed to ever expect perfection to come from one … without Spiritual assistance. This is such common knowledge we have an axiom that says, “The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” Mice have pea-sized brains, but size is not the problem.
In verse eight, David continued on singing: “The statutes of the Lord are just and rejoice the heart; the commandment of the Lord is clear and gives light to the eyes.” This is the realization that brings tears to one’s eyes. It is what makes the heart sing praises to the LORD.
That means, “If you do not like what the law says, then you do not appreciate perfection.” If one does not seek perfect understanding of why there is One Religion that serves only the One God, then one then needs to leave that assembly that is truly One Body in Christ, rather than expect that One Body to become subservient to any member’s desires for special acceptance.
In Paul’s analogy of a body with parts, it can be thought that all parts are equal, such that all parts have the right to freely express the qualities and characteristics of their part. However, that is far from what Paul is saying.
One Body MUST be controlled by One Mind, such that all of the parts are extensions of that Mind, for the purpose of extending that Mind beyond the body. In this way, “there is no dissension within the body,” so “the members may have the same care for one another.”
This means that when Paul said the “body of Christ” has been appointed by God, including apostles, prophets, teachers, deeds of power, gifts of healing, forms of assistance, forms of leadership, and various kinds of tongues … where in that “body of Christ” are those who do nothing of value? While Paul mentioned, “the members of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable” and “our less respectable members are treated with greater respect,” where did Paul say God appointed certain sinners as necessary parts of the “body of Christ”?
Where are those whose physical bodies feature blindness, deafness, lustfulness, selfishness, and diseases and imperfections? Who has the power of the Spirit because they love sex more than God?
Are imperfections not to be seen as demons that need to be cast out … not something to accept and learn to love?
Think about that … without trying to play God.
Certainly, there are many bodies that need the light of truth shone upon them, so they can be healed; but healing comes with the demand to remain healed AND join the One Body of God, helping others to likewise be healed. We read in the Gospels of Jesus’s miraculous healing; but where do we read, “And Jesus went up to the blind man and said, “Hey! Didn’t I heal you already?”
Healing from the Holy Spirit stays healed AND becomes a healing member of the “one body of Christ.”
The “one body of Christ” is not, will not, and cannot be focused on any one member of that body. ALL members follow the will of God, for the purpose of helping others find the light of truth.
Still, one has to understand there are many physical bodies in the world that are dead. They live mortal lives that lead to nothing more than their eventual deaths. The One Body of Christ is ALIVE by the Holy Spirit of God. The purpose of that One Body is to offer Salvation to a world of darkness and sin … to shine a light by which the lost can be found, so the dead can be reborn.
No one can be reborn when all that one desires is reinforcement that death is a worthwhile option. Satan provides that support. Because death is a certainty in a mortal world that means an eternal soul is continually moved from one mortal prison to another – Reincarnation.
A stuffed animal may provide comfort to childish minds, but it is void of life. The true Church has no role as a stuffed animal. It can only function properly as a Living Body in Christ.
For the purpose of “one body in Christ” to be fulfilled, the dead and the living cannot be mixed together. You cannot sew dead members onto the One Living Body, or that One Body becomes less. The One Body reject that dead member.
Jesus said, “It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.” (Matthew 5:30)
It is why Judas Iscariot never became an apostle. A dead member only betrays the one body.
In the Gospel story in Luke today, we read how Jesus was filled with the power of the Spirit. Jesus was like David, Ezra, Nehemiah, and Paul, in the sense that they all were capable of interpreting the scrolls because of that power assisting them. That knowledge and wisdom did not come to them from self-generated intelligence.
Unlike the people who assembled at the Water Gate to the Wall surrounding the City of David, to hear the law of Moses read to them and interpreted by rabbis; and unlike the Christian apostles in Corinth, who were encouraged by Paul to understand the binding unity of the Church of Christ; the Jews in the synagogue of Nazareth were not “living members of the One Body” that had become known as Judaism.
Jesus entered as a rabbi, dressed in his ceremonial robe. He stood to read and he was handed the scroll that had chapter 61 of Isaiah written on it. Jesus read the first verse, and part of the second. Then, he sat down.
He read aloud (partially), “The Spirit of the Lord is on me … to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim … the year of the Lord’s favor.”
The Jews who were gathered in attendance all leaned forward, waiting for the interpretation of the words of Isaiah, the revered prophet of Judah.
Then Jesus said, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”
The translation that says, “in your hearing,” is better read as, “to your faculty of perception.”
In other words, Jesus said, “If you are one gathered who can hear with understanding … if you do have an Israelite’s faculty of perceiving interpreted scripture … then you may weep now, from an emotional release based on your faith that the Messiah would indeed be sent by God.”
“I am he,” is what Jesus said, in essence. “Praise the LORD!” is the response of one with true faith, who prays to God and expects divine revelations should be.
That’s what I’m talking about!
What we do not read today is how the people in that synagogue began attacking Jesus, asking, “Is this not Joseph’s son?” After an argument ensued, they would try to throw Jesus off a cliff; but Jesus disappeared. Jesus just passed right through them.
Those who have Jesus the Messiah in their midst but do not see HIM as fitting THEIR agenda and THEIR healing needs … they lose the right to call themselves “Christians.” They are better identified as “Christ killers.”
The story of Jesus preaching in Nazareth is a reading that shows how the One Body in Christ goes into the midst of the dead. It shines light into darkness. It goes there out of love, filled with the power of the Spirit. Still, it shows how the darkness cannot comprehend the light.
Jesus will be seen next week saying, “No prophet is accepted in his hometown,” which shows how the darkness … the DEAD … does not want to join with the living members and understand. It wants to kill the One Living Body.
Therefore, the message is for the light to pass through the darkness, in search of those who seek the truth, those who do have faith, and those who can hear with understanding.
For those who have understanding (after interpretation) and deeper faith in God from being able to hear, those are told, “Go your way, eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions of them to those for whom nothing is prepared.” Prepare a way for the dead to find the light, so that they have the opportunity to be reborn.
#thepeopleweptwhentheyheardthewords #thelawoftheLordisperfect #WaterGatetotheCityofDavid #EzrareadsthelawofMosestothepeople #PrimatesvotetosuspendtheEpiscopalChurchUSAfromtheAnglicanCommunionforthreeyears #Psalm19 #Paulandonebodywithdifferentmembers #TheSpiritoftheLordisuponme #1Corinthians121231 #Nehemiah8110 #YearC2016 #Jesusannouncedhewasthefulfillmentofscripture #onebodywithdifferentpurposesoftheHolySpirit #Isaiah6112 #ThirdSundayaftertheEpiphany #Luke41421 #interpretationofscripture #Jesusteachesinhishometownsynagogue