1 Thessalonians 1:1-10

Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:

Grace to you and peace.

We always give thanks to God for all of you and mention you in our prayers, constantly remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. For we know, brothers and sisters beloved by God, that he has chosen you, because our message of the gospel came to you not in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction; just as you know what kind of persons we proved to be among you for your sake. And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for in spite of persecution you received the word with joy inspired by the Holy Spirit, so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. For the word of the Lord has sounded forth from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but in every place your faith in God has become known, so that we have no need to speak about it. For the people of those regions report about us what kind of welcome we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols, to serve a living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead– Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath that is coming.

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This is the Epistle selection from the Episcopal Lectionary for Year A, Proper 24, the twentieth Sunday after Pentecost. It will next be read aloud in church on Sunday, October 22, 2017. This is important as Paul addressed the Christians of Thessaly as all true Christians must recognize – as being beloveds of God, chosen to become imitators of Christ the Lord, sharing their love of God and Christ to all they live among and come in contact with.

As the introduction chapter to a new letter, it is worthwhile to note how Paul includes his Christian travel companions as equally supporting the contents of this letter. One should not see Paul adding those names as though it was some cordial inclusion of his helpers or underlings. The Greek text says, “Paul, and Silvanus, and Timothy,” where the conjunction “kai” can be translated as “also, even, indeed, again, same,” and (among many other possibilities) “together.” When this equality is seen, those three men (each filled with the Holy Spirit) become representative of a holy Trinity, or a triple Trinity, as each were Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, just with different travel names.

That multiplicity being stated at the beginning of this letter (chapter) can then be seen as a governing factor for the rest of this reading.

The salutation above is missing a comma (which was written or implied), as it is “To the church of the Thessalonians.” The Greek word “ekklēsia” also states “To the assembly,” where that meant “the whole body of Christian believers” who lived in Thessaly. Following the comma, the address states: “in God [the] Father and [the] Lord Jesus Christ.” The separation of the comma allows for this segment of words to say that Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, along with the assembly of Christians in Thessaly are all related “in God,” the “Father.” The use of “kai” here then adds that the relationship all have, through the Father, is they all have become reborn versions of Jesus, with the Christ Mind. This is the deepest meaning that was written with intention and thus it received by the Thessalonians with understanding.

It is not a greeting without deep and sincere meaning attached, regardless of how many times others will read that greeting and miss that intent.

When Paul then continued with his salutation (following the colon – a mark of clarification about the intent of “in God Father and Jesus Christ”), writing, “Grace to you and peace,” please understand that Paul is not attempting to give “Grace and peace” to anyone. Such use of flowery language today is a sign of how people throw about good wishes, with no idea how grace and peace ever comes to be. The Greek word “Charis” means “Grace,” but the usage states, “a gift or blessing brought to man by Jesus Christ,” as well as “the Lord’s favor” and refers “to God freely extending Himself, reaching to people because He is disposed to bless (be near) them.” Thus, Paul (and his co-equals) were stating a known fact about the Christians of Thessaly: They had been given Grace by the Father and that comes with peace of mind and general good health and welfare.

To further clarify (which has been omitted above [NIV], but is in the KJV), Paul followed another comma and stated that Grace and peace had come “from God our Father and Lord Jesus Christ.” He made it clearly stated that he was not making some kind of papal decree of holiness bestowed, as Paul sending his blessings out to people he once spent time with.

After the greeting, this letter demonstrates how difficult it can be to read the epistles of Paul. He appears long-winded as his sentences seem to go on and on, with few period marks. In this regard, I have found the same characteristic of writing in the two letters that Nostradamus wrote (a Preface and a letter to King Henry II of France), which have become fixtures to the publications entitled The Prophecies. The same long-windedness and scarcity of period marks are repeated there; and this means both Paul and Nostradamus wrote in the same manner, without attempts to copy this style. The commonality of the two says they were both filled with God’s Holy Spirit (by their own admission), which makes this style that which can be termed the language of God.

It is important, therefore, to not attempt to read Paul as one would read the latest (fill in the name of your favorite fiction author here) novel, as if you can’t wait to see what is written several pages away, because the excitement builds so rapidly. Prophets of God write in ways that demand one pull up a chair at a table, get out the paper and pen, and make some notes. Reading must then be done slowly, rather than as a graduate of some speed reading program.

This makes all internal punctuation become the stepping stones (or speed bumps), from which pause and reflection are demanded. Because one’s brain is trained to read quickly, it becomes an automatic process where “auto-correct” occurs … with the same inabilities one sees a cell phone make. Errors of understanding are commonplace, and the more they occur the more they are accepted as correct.  Therefore, reading slowly allows the full impact of what has been written to appear, so the words of prophets can amazingly become specific in choice, yielding detailed and meaningful text.

This is God at work.

In regard to reading in this manner, keep in mind that God has set apart the seventh day as holy. It is to be a day of rest – the peace of the Lord upon one. No ordinary or daily work is to be done on the Sabbath. So, what better way to spend eight hours on a Saturday can there be, other than letting the Holy Spirit enlighten one and increase one’s faith through understanding?

On the other hand, what better way is there to make the cornerstone of one’s religion erode and crumble into nothing meaningful, when one does not take dedicated time to explore the Word of the Lord?  This is why God commanded attention be paid to holy matters.

With that said, consider the statement made in verse two, which begins by saying, “We always give thanks to God for all of you and mention you in our prayers.” This is how true Apostles and Saints go about their daily business: “We give thanks to God always.” Being filled with the Holy Spirit is a gift that keeps on giving. Therefore, the thank-yous keep on coming. This is not something only Paul, Silvanus and Timothy did, as “concerning all of you [the Christians of Thessaly],” for they too continuously gave thanks to God.

Following the comma (not recognized in the text above), verse two goes on to state, “mention you in our prayers.” The actual text becomes more accurately stated as a separate segment (following a comma), beginning with “remembrance,” which is more a follow-up on the prior statement of “giving thanks to God.” Therefore, one gives thanks to God through their “remembrances made in the prayers of everyone” Christian.

Certainly, thanks would be made to God, through prayers, for having been found, led, and made associated with others who likewise became rebirths of Jesus Christ. This means Paul’s (et al) prayers were not that God would keep the Thessalonian Christians remembered (as God knows all hearts and minds that are His), but that all Christians remembered other Christians through prayers of thanksgiving.

In verse three, the above statement is likewise missing quite a few commas (each either written or implied), as we read, “constantly remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.” The literal Greek text breaks this into a series of segments, where each part stands alone as meaningful, before joining with the other segments. The series states: “unceasingly remembering your work of faith,” followed by “and the labor of love,” followed by “and the endurance of hope of the Lord of us,” followed by “Jesus Christ,” and finally followed by “before the God and Father of us.” As one needs to be able to see, reading slowly, segment by segment, allows a much deeper and meaningful letter to unfold.

After one has been thankful to God’s presence within one, thankful through remembrance in prayer, one is then constantly praying. The prayers of thanks are not like those of a child, on one’s knees at the bedside before sleep. One is “constantly recalling one’s work of faith” in prayer. One is thankful because those works are “labors of love,” where the love is a relationship with God, and God’s direction of that work.

So often people speak highly of “hope,” when “hope” becomes an “enduring desire to maintain the presence of the Lord” within one. One’s “hope” is to forever act as “Jesus Christ,” whose Mind has been the product of one’s love of God (baby Jesus born within one, as consummation of one’s love with God). It is through that rebirth of “Jesus Christ” within one that allows all Christians to truly stand “before God,” knowing He is the “Father of us all,” as each Christian is a reproduction of the Son of God.

Verse four then states above, “For we know, brothers and sisters beloved by God, that he has chosen you.” The translation “For we know” comes from one Greek word, which is “eidotes.” With that one word set apart by period before and comma after, it bears more importance than simply a statement of what Paul “knew.”

The word implies “perception” and “understanding,” as “a gateway to grasp spiritual truth (reality) from a physical plane.” (Word Studies reference) Therefore, this “knowing” comes in the same way it came to Paul (et al), as all were “brothers [and sisters]” due to the consummation of God’s love (“beloved by God”).” This is not a casual spreading of God’s seed, as would occur in human nature through unmarried and unprotected sex [fornication, like animals]; but , instead, all Christians are brothers [and sisters] because they have all been “chosen by God.” God chooses His brides; thus being chosen by God is metaphor for being married to God.

Marriage begets baby Jesuses.

Aaaahhh. I think he looks just like you!

Verse five then begins by stating (as shown above): “because our message of the gospel came to you not in word only.” The Greek word translated as “message” is “euangelion,” which means, “The good news of the coming of the Messiah, the gospel,” but implies “the human transmitter (an apostle).” This then explains the “hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.” An Apostle spreads this “hope” to others; but this “hope” did not come to the Saint simply by reading or hearing “words only.” Therefore, being an Apostles means more than telling people about Jesus as the Christ.

Hope that comes only from words means that which is hoped for is always beyond one’s reach.  We hope for things to materialize in this realm, when hope is only truly answered “in our Lord” being our Lord within.  A Christian’s hope is to become Jesus Christ.

The second segment of verse five then states (as above): “but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction.” This means that an Apostle gives others the keys to fulfilled “hope,” by explaining the intent of the “word” so that others can see the “power” those words contain. That power illuminates the presence of the Holy Spirit, in the writer of the words, in the Apostle explaining those words, and in the abilities within one being enlightened. Only from one being exposed to the light of truth can one personally feel the power within and realize the “full assurance” and “conviction” that the Word is indeed Holy.

Only from that personal relationship can one have “full confidence” in God and His Christ. This is how “hope” is “assured.”

Verse five concludes by stating (as above): “just as you know what kind of persons we proved to be among you for your sake.” This says that the personal experience then allows each new believer to “know” and “appreciate” that a Saint has come to him or her, in order for him or her to be enlightened personally. That personal connection to God is what leads one to choose to be “that kind of person” who likewise seeks others to enlighten. It is a light that opens one’s eyes to helping others, more than self.

Verse six begins by simply stating, “And you,” where the focus of the letter changes from the wonders that all Apostles and Saints feel, to specifically address the accomplishments of the Thessalonian Christians. Paul pointed out that, by stating they, “became imitators of us and of the Lord.” Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy had been welcomed by them in their travels, but that presence had the effect of passing on the Holy Spirit to all.

As “imitators,” the Thessalonians had become “followers,” in the way that Jesus meant, when he said, “follow me.” The Greek word here is “mimētai,” which was only used by Paul in his letters and means, “imitators” or “followers,” but more properly: “the positive imitation that arises by admiring the pattern set by someone worthy of emulation.”  There was nothing artificial – no pretense – in their following holy men into sainthood.

This is an example of an imitator, who never is who he acts to be. This is a reflection of idol worship.

To clarify that this was a statement of the Thessalonians being “followers” in Christ, following a comma (not shown above) Paul then wrote, “and of the Lord.” This means all were “imitators” of Jesus Christ, just as were Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy.  By Paul stating “the Lord,” using the Greek word “Kyriou,” he meant it was understood that Jesus becomes “the Master” of one’s physical body (his kingdom), and that “Lord” is whose commands a “follower” or “subject” obeys.

When is read, “for in spite of persecution you received the word with joy inspired by the Holy Spirit,” this is split in two by a comma not brought into the translation above. By Paul separating this into a segment that stated the Thessalonians “had received the word amid much tribulation,” this says the Thessalonian Christians primarily were Jewish. They were then outcast by Jews who rejected the “word” that the Christ had come. Similarly, as had occurred in Jerusalem and Galilee, attempts had been made to harm them or force them to recant their beliefs. Still, they believed Jesus of Nazareth was the promised Messiah because of more than simply words spoken.

They maintained their faith in Jesus Christ because they “received the word.” The Thessalonians had “welcomed” and “accepted” the Good News, but they had also breathed in the Spirit that news brought.  Therefore, that receipt came “with the “joy” and “gladness of the Holy Spirit.”

Verse seven then continues the thought line on the Thessalonian Christians being imitators of Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, through the joyful presence of the Holy Spirit and the Christ Mind, as they too have evangelized to others. Rather than just become “couch potato Christians” and stay at home, doing nothing, some “became examples” of Jesus Christ reborn, bringing forth “all the believers in Macedonia.” Some of them spread the Gospel “in Achaia,” which is stated separately via comma. Those two places represent distances traveled to the southwest and northeast, in mainland Greece, from Thessaly.

In verse eight, Paul stated his certainly (from personal experience) that the Christians of Thessaly were in no way limited to how far and to whom their “words” of Christ Jesus were announced, with joy motivating them to speak that truth wherever they traveled and wherever they lived. This means they were not limited to telling Jews only, in Macedonia, and in Achaia. That meant it was unnecessary for Paul to list every place in the world where Greeks had access as places, where they might consider going. Just as Paul (et al) was driven by the Holy Spirit to evangelize, he and his travel companions knew the same motivation was present in the Christians of Thessaly.

In verse nine, Paul informed the Christians of Thessaly that he and his companions, in their travels, were meeting other Christians who had been affected by those Thessalonians. The Greek word that has been translated as “welcomed” (“eisodon”) actually translates as “reception,” implying an “entering” or “entrance into.” As such, these reports Paul (et al) were hearing were more than the Christians of Thessaly saying how happy they were to meet Paul and his traveling companions; but the same Spirit had entered them.

When Paul wrote, “and how you turned to God from idols,” this clarified how they had been filled with the Holy Spirit of the LORD. The Greek word “eidolon” means “idols,” but denotes an “image (for worship),” thus “false gods.” While the history of the Greeks is known to be polytheistic, as their mythology had them erecting many statues to the gods (including one to “the unknown god”), the “false gods” that the Jewish converts to Christianity had turned away from were the leaders who condemned Christianity (as a belief in the Messiah having come as Jesus of Nazareth). Evidence of this can be seen reflected in the story of Jesus and the young, wealthy ruler (Pharisee), who proved he served a material master.  The “idols” worshipped by many leading Jews were representative of things possessed (land, coins, clothing, and the rest), where those “idols” were proof to them of their God.

From grasping this connection to Judaism, which believed in the God of Moses (ancient history, thus perhaps a dead God – after their ancestors lost their land?), they served themselves as the special ones whom God rewards with things. All of the Greeks of paganism worshipped dead gods (stone monuments) out of fear, more than belief. They offered sacrifices out of ritual, with few expectations beyond the uncertainty of Mother Nature. Still, those pagan Greeks were not persecuted for “mailing in” their “faith card,” so they did not “turn to God from idols” because someone told them about Jesus dying, resurrecting, and ascending to heaven, before witnesses. The Jews had belief in such things in their history (Elijah for one), but they had reverted (once again, in a history of many times) to idolatry.

This is why Paul then wrote about that turn away from idols as being “to serve a living and true God.” The Greek text presents a comma (written or implied) between “God living ,  and true.” The separation is important, as “a living God” (“Theō zōnti”) placed focus on God being alive in the servant (or “slave, devotee, subject” – from “douleuein”). It is not a statement that God is Alive, but one that says one lives as God incarnate.

This is the story of Jesus of Nazareth, who walked the earth as the living presence of God. ALL subsequent Apostles and Saints are then reproductions of Jesus of Nazareth, as the Son of God still living on the earthly plane. Those who worship idols are as dead as the stone images they stand before, or as dead as the rabbis who cannot teach one to be filled with God’s Holy Spirit and make God be Alive on earth. Therefore, the separate statement, “and true,” means one is “genuine,” “real,” and literally “made of truth.”

The Greek word “alēthinō” means “true,” while “emphasizing the organic connection (authentic unity) between what is true and its source or origin.” Every time Jesus said “verily,” he said, “I only speak the truth.”  The truth is certain.  God becomes alive and present through those who speak His truth.

When Paul began to wind down this introductory page of his letter to the Christians of Thessaly, he continued by stating, “and to wait for his Son from heaven.” This has to be seen as adding meaning to the use of “to serve God living,” where “truth” is all important. By Paul adding the need “to wait for the Son of him of the heavens,” the reason one calls a “waiter” in a restaurant by that name, is the customer decides what the waiter will bring forth; and until that time an order is determined, it is the place of that servant “to await” that order. For Paul to say “to wait for his Son” or “await the Son,” this is confirmation that each true Christian is indeed a body of flesh that is the attendant of the Son, as the rebirth of Jesus Christ.

That presence in a human body is then not physical, but spiritual, being “from heaven” or “of the heavens,” which is the Holy Spirit.

This too is confirmed when Paul next wrote, “whom he raised from the dead.” Each and every true Christian is the one “to wait for his Son,” as the one (one of many) “whom God raised from the dead.” All human beings are born of death, as mortal creatures housing living souls. Death means reincarnation; whereas Life means the release of the soul to eternal life, without the restraints of mortal death.

Jesus of Nazareth was one “whom God raised from the dead,” but all true Christians are likewise raised from the dead by the rebirth of Jesus Christ within them. Therefore, Paul stated “Jesus” between two commas, standing alone as that statement of rebirth.

The presence of “Jesus” within a servant waiting on that Son is the only way one becomes “rescued from the wrath” that is mortal death, as repeating the life of a soul imprisoned in another body of flesh. Becoming a servant to the LORD means dying of self and being reborn with the Mind of Christ, which makes one like Paul, Silvanus, Timothy, and the Christians of Thessaly – those who await the Son sent to them from heaven, and go to others so they too can be “rescued from the wrath.”

The Greek word that has been translated as “rescues” is “rhyomenon.” The word actually says, “delivering.” The servant who makes deliveries is always seeking the one who will receive. Thus, salvation is more than the words one takes out to the world. It is about finding those who will be receiving them spiritually.

From this detailed interpretation of the 256 words Paul wrote here, in his first letter to the Thessalonians, one should come away with either a headache or the “wow effect.” There is so much contained in so few words that to listen to them be read aloud in a church requires amazing abilities of grasping meaning and retention of that meaning, for Paul to be understood fully. I have written over four thousand words in explanation of 256 written by Paul.

The same depth of meaning comes from the writings of Nostradamus; but then God purposefully had Nostradamus write in more confusing text than did he tell Paul.  Nostradamus clearly entitled his work The Prophecies, as a statement that the future was only knowable by God.  Something only knowable by God requires God to understand.  Paul also wrote of the future, with the confusion being in a letter addressed to people long gone.  To not see that fixed in the past state of 1 Thessalonians 1, one likewise needs God to see Paul wrote a prophecy of the future – now – always now.

The point here is that Paul was not simply rubber stamping a “thank you” letter to the Thessalonians. He wrote words that only one filled by the Holy Spirit could fully comprehend, after happily spending hours poring over each word written. Each of Paul’s letters should be seen as written to every true Christian who will ever read or listen to his words.

They are written to me and to you, because that is the power of God and His Word. If you read Paul and are thinking “Yada, yada, yada” (which is actually Hebrew, stating, “I know, I know, I know”), then you might want to look around and see if you spend more time worshiping things (idols) and much less time having fun letting the Holy Spirit enlighten you about Scripture. Hopefully, you read my words here and said, “YADA! YADA! YADA!, because you saw the same things, but felt you had no one to tell.

If that is the case, consider this interpretation of a letter of Paul my congratulations to you.  Thank you for being Christian.

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Exodus 33:12-23

Moses said to the Lord, “See, you have said to me, ‘Bring up this people’; but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. Yet you have said, ‘I know you by name, and you have also found favor in my sight.’ Now if I have found favor in your sight, show me your ways, so that I may know you and find favor in your sight. Consider too that this nation is your people.” He said, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” And he said to him, “If your presence will not go, do not carry us up from here. For how shall it be known that I have found favor in your sight, I and your people, unless you go with us? In this way, we shall be distinct, I and your people, from every people on the face of the earth.”

The Lord said to Moses, “I will do the very thing that you have asked; for you have found favor in my sight, and I know you by name.” Moses said, “Show me your glory, I pray.” And he said, “I will make all my goodness pass before you, and will proclaim before you the name, ‘The Lord’; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. But,” he said, “you cannot see my face; for no one shall see me and live.” And the Lord continued, “See, there is a place by me where you shall stand on the rock; and while my glory passes by I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and I will cover you with my hand until I have passed by; then I will take away my hand, and you shall see my back; but my face shall not be seen.”

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This is the Old Testament selection from the Episcopal Lectionary for Year A, Proper 24, the twentieth Sunday after Pentecost. It will next be read aloud in church on Sunday, October 22, 2017. It is important as God tells Moses His presence will go with Moses, with Moses able to be shown the way of the LORD to God’s chosen people. The glory of the LORD will rest on Moses.

This reading continues the dream sequence that Exodus 31 presented, about the golden calf. In between that dream and this selection are other elements that are best seen as prophecy.  We find that YHWH directed Moses to record a second version of the Covenant,  after getting so angry he smashed the first tablets of stone, which can then be seen as prophesying the coming of Jesus and the New Covenant. Rather than the stone tablets being broken in anger by Moses, it was the Israelites (over a millennia) who broke the Law and lost their lands.  The second story is then pertinent to the second phase of agreement to abide by the Law, while the Jews were in Babylon.

I am fed up with you people continually dragging my name through the mud for centuries.

I recommend every Christian re-read Exodus and Deuteronomy, paying close attention to the stories told that are repeated, but told differently.  Simply be aware of the possibility that the differences are due to a prophetic dream being the purpose, which would later be fulfilled, well into the future from then.  See the purpose of two versions of the tablet story and the agreements made, and the other duplicate stories that complete Exodus (and repeat in Deuteronomy), as God looking for who pauses and begins to look deeper, looking for truth, rather than excuse to disbelieve.

In regards to this reading, the text above suffers greatly from the Hebrew text.  The reality of the Hebrew exposes more insight into the dream powers that Moses possessed. This makes the prophecy of Joel worth remembering, when he prophesied as the voice of God:

“And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions.” (Joel 2:28)

One needs to see Moses as an “old man,” since he was neither young or a child when on Mount Horeb.  We regularly read of Moses going to have a talk with God; but the question now becomes, “Just how did Moses have those conversations?”

In the Tent of Meeting?

That prophecy written by Joel, which Peter quoted to the pilgrims in Jerusalem on Pentecost, was fulfilled on the Pentecost morning; but it was not the only fulfillment.  Prophecy by the pouring out of Spirit is repeatedly seen fulfilled every time God’s Spirit comes upon men of God. Moses was one of those men who spoke to YHWH in a dream state. Samuel answered the call of God as a child when asleep. Joseph interpreted the dreams of Pharaoh, and Daniel did the same for Nebuchadnezzar. Therefore, the tent of meeting might well have been the place where Moses went to find solitude (outside the camp of Israelites), so that there he could drift into a prophetic dream state.

To grasp this Exodus 33 reading, I recommend the readers here visit this Interlinear page on BibleHub.com. It shows the Hebrew text for all of Exodus 33, so scroll down to verse 12; and the remainder of the page is this reading.  The page lists the Hebrew root word and an English translation. The written words have links to a page that offers examples of other uses and their translations, with the root word (above the actual text word) having a link to a page that details the root meaning and translations, based on their possible usage. The English translation is then literal, as it maintains the order of the written text.  Reading literally is a great way to realize the Hebrew text before it becomes mutated in English translation.

When the literal is compared to the English translation that will be read in churches (the New International Version), it is eye-opening how much meaning is lost. Seeing the words that were actually written, thus representative of the language of the LORD, means one is freed (somewhat) of translations that act as paraphrases of what God told a prophet to write.  Looking at the root language is a good beginning, from which God will see an effort made to learn.  Understanding the words of Scripture (at all times) requires the Holy Spirit’s  assistance, so one can be fluent in that holy tongue.

The word count for the selected reading is 319 words. Beginning where the first verse says, “See,” the focus is strongly placed on vision. We have “my sight,” “your sight,” “show me,” “show mercy,” and “see” written multiple (14) times. Additionally, we find “the face” and “my face” three more times, with “face” an omitted part (in English translation) of the First Commandment, and the “face” is where the eyes are located.  This is not coincidence, as this reading (entitled “Moses and the Glory of God” on some translation sites) is about Moses seeing, in a special way, as one filled with God’s Holy Spirit. Therefore, everything is metaphor for being led by the Mind of Christ.

“Samuel!” “Here I am!”

Here are some notes I made, from looking at the Hebrew translated into literal English translations.  If you open a separate window by clicking the link to BibleHub.com, you can see what I am taking notes from, as well as check the links to word meanings.

“See” = “rə·’êh” = “Vision, View, Understanding.” The meaning is to have access to visions of prophecy and hearing what YHWH wants a prophet to “See.”

“Bring up” = “ha·‘al” = “Ascend, Raise.” This indicates that it was Moses’ role, as the leader of the Israelites and who was in touch with YHWH, to elevate the Israelites Spiritually. That helps explain 40 years in the wilderness – they were slow learners?

“you have not let me know whom you will send with me.” This means that Moses has not yet seen (through dream insight) what powers of elevation God will send to him, which can then be passed on to the Israelite followers.

“I may know you by name” = “yə·ḏa‘·tî·ḵā bə·šêm” = “I know you by name.” By Moses having the presence of YHWH, he knows what YHWH knows, as if Moses were YHWH. This does not mean God knew Moses was named Moses. It means a union of God and Moses, so Moses can know what needs to be known “in the name” of God.

“in My sight” = “bə·‘ê·nāy” = “in My eyes.” God has shown favor to Moses, where “favor” means with God’s blessing. Moses was “accepted” [translation possibility for “favor”] by God, known by His showing Moses visions to guide him. The word for “favor” (“ḥên”) also means “grace.”

“Consider” = “ū·rə·’êh” = same as “See” [see above – “rə·’êh”]. Moses was shown that the Israelites (“‘am·me·ḵā” – “your people”) are a “nation” or “community of people.” They too are to be “this,” or the “same,” as was Moses … able to “See.”

“My presence” = “pā·nāy” = “My face.” This means that Moses will wear the face of YHWH, as the presence of God within him.

“I will give rest” = “wa·hă·ni·ḥō·ṯî”. “I will give calm or rest” means God will allow Moses to have daydreams and night dreams of prophecy and guidance.

“If your presence will not go, do not carry us up from here.”  This means that without the presence of YHWH on Moses, the Israelites will not be raised or elevated.  They cannot progress as servants of the LORD without that spiritual elevation.

“For how shall it” = “ū·ḇam·meh” = “Wherein” or “How many?” This asks the question “How many will know the grace of God’s Sight, [besides] I [Moses] and your people [the Israelites].” The question then applies to all who will be allowed the Sight of YHWH. If they ever become separated from that presence [face of YHWH], then they will go nowhere, nor will anyone else in the world. The “face of the world” will not be that of God, if the Israelites and Moses are separated from the “face of God.” Separated mean wearing “the face of the world.” This is a statement of importance placed on Moses and the Israelites. It is a prophecy that the world is that which needs to be saved by “the people” (of God), so they must not be separated from that service to the LORD.

“show me your glory” = “har·’ê·nî nā , ’êṯ kə·ḇō·ḏe·ḵā” = “show me now” or “show me I beg, pray, saying please” [pause of separation comma implied] “your abundance, riches, honor, glory” This says Moses asked God to give him the gifts of the Holy Spirit, so he could See for the LORD, recognizing that “glory” was not his own, but that only of God.

“I will make all my goodness pass before you” = “’ă·nî ’a·‘ă·ḇîr kāl- ṭū·ḇî ‘al- pā·ne·ḵā” = “I will pass over all My goodness over your face.” This says Moses was to shine with the face of the LORD upon him.

“and will proclaim before you the name, ‘The Lord’” = “I will proclaim the name of Yahweh on your face [which projects before your head].” This says the people will know Moses has the face of the LORD, because of the glow on his face.”

“and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy.” = “and will show blessing to whom I favor, and will show compassion to whom I am compassionate.” This means God’s face will shine upon only those who, like Moses, are compassionate for the LORD [compassionate means, “from suffering,” meaning drawn to the LORD through suffering AND willing to suffer to serve the LORD].

“you cannot see my face” = “lō tū·ḵal lir·’ō·wṯ pā·nāy” = “not are you able to See my face [upon your face].” This means one with the Holy Spirit upon him or her will See what the LORD allows to be seen, but will still look like the human being they are [look like themselves].

“for no one shall see me and live” = “for not can See me [“hā·’ā·ḏām , wā·ḥay”] man , and be alive [live].” This means to know the image of God is impossible for human bodies of flesh, as YHWH is unfathomable to such little brains. Only through death, when the soul is released from the narrowmindedness of a physical brain, can the soul See God as He is.

“See, there is a place by me where you shall stand on the rock” = “the LORD behold! , wherever [a space, any physical place] near me a pillar over of strength [or a cliff, a rock].” This says that wherever one Sees through the face of God, that person will stand like a pillar of strength for others.

“while my glory passes by I will put you in a cleft of the rock” = “And it will come to pass over , the pass over of my favor [glory] , and you will be set [or placed, or granted] in a cleft [or fissure, or cavern] of my strength [that rock].” This means that one filled with the Holy Spirit of God is within an encasement of the LORD’s covering.

“I will cover you with my hand until I have passed by” = “I will cover you with my power [or my branches] , will cover through the pass over.” This means the powers of the Holy Spirit, and all talents given by the LORD, surround the one wearing the face of God, for as long as God’s presence is within one.

“then I will take away my hand, and you shall see my back” = “And will turn aside with my power [my branches] , and you shall Know my back side [or hind part].” This means that the result of God’s power will be all that is Seen, as none of the power will be explainable. This is how Jesus routinely said, “Go. Your faith has healed you.” He did nothing that could be Seen, but the result (“the back side”) was the power of the LORD.

“but my face shall not be seen.” This means the face of God cannot be seen as the one who wears the face of God. One cannot say, “I am the Son of God. See? I look just like Him.”

When Jesus made insinuations, proclamations or affirmations that his Father was God, Jesus only looked like a man. Thus, Jesus did not appear to have the face of God. God’s face shall not be seen, but it is present in all who become reproductions of His Son, shining through inner powers of strength.

Hopefully, these notes will make my point clear, which is this story of Moses talking to God was a prophecy that says all who chosen to follow God need to be elevated spiritually. If you look closely at the Greek text of Acts 2:14, where a standard translation states:

“Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say,”

You will see that what is written more importantly says that Peter spoke, “with an elevated voice.” Maybe he yelled, or maybe elevated voices carry to ears without screaming?  The meaning is that after having been given the gift of speaking in foreign languages (without formal training or education), his voice was elevated to speak interpretation of Scripture. All Apostles were, are, and will always be elevated spiritually.

Christians today are called to become Moses in this prophecy. We are to converse with God, asking Him to guide us as we take on the task of “bringing up these people” that look at us for spiritual guidance. We need to be able to wear the face of God, so He knows us by name … Jesus Christ reborn.

Peter became Christ Peter when he stood in a cleft of rock and let the Holy Spirit send words out of his mouth. He certainly lived up to his nickname (given by Jesus), as Peter the Rock of Jesus Christ.  Peter was encased by the strength and power of God’s Holy Spirit.

Three thousand pilgrims did as Peter instructed that day and listened carefully to what he and the other Apostles said. Those listening also were filled by the Holy Spirit, from being told the meaning of Scripture in ways they had never been taught. That was the pass over of God; but no one saw His face. Only the back side of God was seen in the conversion of Jews, to faith in Jesus as their true Messiah.

This reading prophesied that event, and all other conversions since and still to come.

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The Parable of the Wedding Banquet

Matthew 22:1-14

Once more Jesus spoke to the people in parables, saying: “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding banquet, but they would not come. Again he sent other slaves, saying, ‘Tell those who have been invited: Look, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready; come to the wedding banquet.’ But they made light of it and went away, one to his farm, another to his business, while the rest seized his slaves, mistreated them, and killed them. The king was enraged. He sent his troops, destroyed those murderers, and burned their city. Then he said to his slaves, ‘The wedding is ready, but those invited were not worthy. Go therefore into the main streets, and invite everyone you find to the wedding banquet.’ Those slaves went out into the streets and gathered all whom they found, both good and bad; so the wedding hall was filled with guests.

“But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing a wedding robe, and he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding robe?’ And he was speechless. Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ For many are called, but few are chosen.”

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This is the Gospel reading from the Episcopal Lectionary for Year A, Proper 23, the nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost. This will next be read aloud by a priest in church on Sunday, October 15, 2017. This is the parable of the Wedding Banquet and is important because it speaks of all who are invited to serve the Lord, but treat that invitation with ridicule and scorn.

This parable immediately follows the parable of the tenants, which was the Gospel reading for the prior Sunday. Because it begins a new chapter, one can say a day in Jesus’ “inspection” has passed and a new day has begun. This would be why Matthew began by writing, “Once more Jesus spoke to the people in parables.”

Still, the Greek word “apokritheis” was written and not factored into the translation above. That word states that Jesus “answered” the people, or “took up conversation” with them.  The implication is that some question asked or something said that needed clarification. This means Jesus did not simply begin speaking in a parable, as a parable is an answer created to make someone think about its symbolism.

This parable begins with the statement that is the overview. Everything hangs from Jesus beginning by stating, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son.” Thus, the question being answered or the clarification needed is relative to the kingdom of heaven.

The parable could then be addressing the question, “How do we gain the assurance of Heaven?” A similar question posed to Jesus at a prior time to his return to Jerusalem for the Passover festival.  That time a young, wealthy Pharisee asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?” (Matthew 19:16-22)  Jesus answered quite clearly then: Law, Give, Follow. Now, it is answered symbolically.

When Jesus said the comparison was “to a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son,” the focus given by all Christians today is on “his son.”  This (of course) is Jesus. Still, to think that Jesus is telling a parable about about himself is over-simplifying this message.

Over-simplification is part of what I call “Big Brain Syndrome.” We think we know a thing or two today, so we are smarter than those rubes who were standing around Jesus then. We slap Jesus on the back and say, “Tell them Jesus, we know you’re talking about you as his son.” However, the sad reality is most people do not have a clue about the real meaning of this parable; but because people today know how to operate a smart phone, they think that makes them become Jesus-like.

Sure, the “king” is God and “his son” is Jesus; but the operative word that needs to be grasped here is “wedding.”

When we read, “[The king] sent his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding banquet, but they would not come,” “his slaves” are those who serve the LORD. Those who would not come are those who think they are better than slaves and equal to a king.

In the symbolism of this parable, the “slaves” are the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob [aka Israel], who served God and attended to His needs.  There are quite a few over a long period of time: The Israelites were freed by Moses, who was one of “his slaves”; All the Judges (like Gideon, Deborah, Samson, Eli, et al) were the king’s slaves; all the leaders of the people (like Joshua, Samuel, David, et al) were the slaves of God; and all the temple prophets (like Elijah, Elisha, Ezekiel, Jeremiah, Isaiah, et al) were “his slaves.”  That is the meaning of those who were sent out “to call” the invited.

Some of the slaves of God.

The “invited” are all the children of Israel, which includes Jews (who were then surrounding Jesus) and Christians (now, who are reading about this parable).

What flies over everyone’s head is how the invitation was not to have a bunch of party-goers come to the king’s palace for free food, with plenty of wine available for getting drunk. The invitation has to be seen symbolically as quite important, meaning the invitation was to marry his son. Better yet, it was to marry God and become his son, which would make that person be reborn as Jesus Christ.

Either way, the books of the Holy Bible (then called the Torah and the scrolls) are the record of “slaves” inviting those following the trail of the One God, who all believed they were promised land AND Heaven. The problem was the invitations (then, as an allusion to those standing within earshot of Jesus) only went to Jewish men of position and power.

That is why those who were invited got angry and upset, so that “they made light of it and went away, one to his farm, another to his business, while the rest seized his slaves, mistreated them, and killed them.” Keep in mind this was a parable told well before “women’s lib,” so all the invited were adult Jewish males – menfolk who owned property and wares (things).  Now, it applies to anyone (both sexes, Judeo-Christian) who own stuff and control people.

Even in these modern times, when human beings love to call 0 and 1 equal [we’re all numbers], and when the concept of marriage has been rolled in the mud for so long it is barely recognizable and hardly desirable, those who still hold marriage in high regard do so by standards that are considered “old fashioned.”

By this, I mean the man asks a woman to marry him. The man give something of value to the woman (an engagement ring, usually).  The woman takes the man’s name in marriage.

To some, perhaps, marriage pleasantly leads to dreams of the husband going off to work and earn a living.  He buys the wife a house.  The wife then stays home, to cook, clean, and raise babies (the intent of a honeymoon).

Admittedly, fewer and fewer people grow up with this ideal in mind, especially now that some primary schools and kindergartens are teaching gender identity is what you want to be, not what you are.  Go figure.

No wonder marriage is seeming more and more like dinosaur bones and relics (“Mortal can these dried bones live?”)

Because of this innate social concept of marriage and submission being a matter of the heart and not one of brawn, females have long been much more inclined to look forward to marriage, as well as believe in religion, God, prayer, and all the things “church ladies” do. Nuns are so devoted believers they marry Christ.  Faith, therefore, is a matter of the heart.

Men [gruff, gruff], on the other hand, tend to stay away from all this faith stuff, as much as possible.  They usually pray only when they are about to lose money gambling on sports teams.  Most men will go along with the pretense of faith, “as long as it keeps the wife happy.”  Men also like children … God’s blessings … but still men like the sex part about making babies too (an outward sign of inward grace?).

Women are from Venus, men are from Mars?

Because of that male-dominated-world mentality, when a man is invited to marry the “son” of “the king,” … well forget that! Men have property to purchase and wares to sell, because they have families to provide for … thank you very much for understanding that!

How ’bout dem Bears?

Well, the application of this parable is “one size fits all.” Men and women – equally – are invited to marry God and become Jesus Christ, by receipt of God’s Holy Spirit. Accepting the invitation means gladly saying, “I do!”  That does not mean, “I comply.”  It means, “I love you God.”

When Jesus said the king announced, “I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready; come to the wedding banquet,” this is the ceremonial sacrifices for all those planned marriages. The “oxen” and “fat calves” are those egos that overestimate their virility and net worth. They are egos fattened by the blessings of God, so those who took the engagement rings of wealth are His beasts of burden … His chosen ones.  Once those animals are sacrificed, “everything is ready” to join with the Christ Mind and become “his son” (for the umpteenth time … regardless of one’s human gender).

When we read, “they made light of it and went away, … (and) seized his slaves, mistreated them, and killed them,” this is how every Jew of Jesus’ Jerusalem and every Christian today, any who will admit “I am no Saint,” they reject this plan of God. God’s plan is for lost human beings to be found, through the light of Christ. But, lost human beings have so much fun being lost, they think self is more important than holy selflessness.

They hear all those slaves of the king giving the same thing invitations in the holy texts (differently), but they only laugh at it as nonsense, or they mistreat by writing it off as being a long time ago – no longer applicable in this complex world.  Some even kill those writers through the scientific methods of agnosticism and atheism (where they attempt to kill the spirit of anyone reading an invitation and thinking, “Hmmmm. Maybe I’ll go.”)

This kind of response to God’s wedding invitation did not go over well with God. We read, “The king was enraged. He sent his troops, destroyed those murderers, and burned their city.” Can you recall how the divided kingdoms, Israel and Judah, were overrun and destroyed? Scattered people who had their Promised Land repossessed by God, for failure to accept His invitation to be married to God as “his son.”

This same fate applied to the Second Temple businessmen, and it applies to the exponentially growing number of “Christian” churches that are preaching (through the absence of a “How to be a Saint” message), “Don’t be married to God.” Those are seen as murderers of wide-scale Apostlehood, as the bad shepherds holding flocks of sheep in centers designed for wool profiteering.

When we then read, “He said to his slaves, ‘The wedding is ready, but those invited were not worthy. Go therefore into the main streets, and invite everyone you find to the wedding banquet,” those unworthy were the Pharisees (and other Temple-related well-to-dos). That then factors to modern times as Christians who make a living selling Christianity on TV or in mega-churches [including the Vatican].

This makes “the main streets” be the mainstream of humanity that flows in torrents around the world. The invitation is for anyone who picks up a Holy Bible and reads a slave pronouncing an invitation to be married to God and become “his son” (regardless of human gender).  If that person says, “Yes! I want that!”, then, “You’re engaged to marry God!”

To then read, “[The slaves] found, both good and bad; so the wedding hall was filled with guests,” the “good and bad” actually states “the wicked, evil, malicious, slothful” (“ponērous”) and “the intrinsically good, good in nature, good whether or not it can be seen, and believers” (“agathous”). That means there are those found by the “slaves” who were like those who Jesus said were closer to salvation (tax collectors and prostitutes) than the Pharisees (Popes, televangelists, authors of bestselling Christian novels, et al). The “bad” were those sinners who wanted to not be bad, and the “good” were those who fought hard to find support and encouragement to keep up the good fight.

None of those were led to marry God by anyone other than the king’s slaves.

Written by God’s slaves.

When we read “guests” filled the banquet hall, this is misleading, as weddings are typically many more guests than marriage participants. The Greek word written is “anakeimenōn,” which means “recliners” or those “seated” at the dinner table. Because we are told, “[the king] noticed a man there who was not wearing a wedding robe,” the implication is all those “seated” were properly dressed for their marriage. Now, here was this guy who strolled in wearing his street clothes, or perhaps he was looking like a wolf, uncovered?

When Jesus said the king (God) asked this man, politely, “Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding robe?” the implication is the man had proclaimed to be a “friend” of God and “his son.” However, to be wedded to God, to become “his son” through marriage, to be ceremoniously sacrificed of ego, means to be more than simply a “friend.” The Greek word here is “Hetaire,” which means, “a companion (normally an impostor), posing to be a comrade but in reality only has his own interests in mind.”

This is actually a statement of what a true Church consists of. Paul wrote, “There is one body, but it has many parts. But all its many parts make up one body. It is the same with Christ.” (1 Corinthians 12:12) The same can be said of this wedding banquet, where many types of people had submitted themselves to God, to be married through His Christ.  All would become “one body” through marriage, as all would become one with God and Christ.

Anyone who is not a true Saint or Apostle, not having talents of the Holy Spirit, is just a “pal,” who “has his or her own interests in mind.” When one’s own interest is a “Big Brain” and not the Christ Mind, then that person is spotted by God the king and questioned.  God does not call those “Friend.”  He calls them “Impostor!” and asks, “What are you doing with my chosen people?”

Jesus said the response to that questioning by God was, “And [the uninvited guest] was speechless.” That impostor, who didn’t even dress like he was going to get married to “his son,” had nothing to say.  When saying the truth, “Just here for the food and wine,” would have been a good start to a conversation; the reality is he was “speechless” for symbolic reason.

Here, “speechless” means the man’s tongue had not been lit “like a violent rush of wind,” which gave him “a tongue of fire.”  His being speechless meant he was unable to answer, because he could not speaking in holy language, as would be given from the Spirit within.  This is confirmed when one sees how the Greek word translated as “speechless” is “ephimōthē,” which implies “muzzled” or “put to silence.” Thus, only those who were rightfully present at the wedding banquet could speak, but they could only speak what the Holy Spirit allowed.

The moral of this parable is then stated by Jesus as being, “The king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Clearly, the easy summary says, “Ignore the invitations found in the Holy Bible and go to Hell.”  However, it is not that simple.

To be bound “hand and foot” is less about the acts of the Lord’s “servants” or “attendants” (those rightfully present at the wedding banquet), but that which binds is self-inflicted.  The man was bound by his own actions. He was bound by the path he had taken and those whom he had walked upon to get there (“feet”).  Additionally, he was bound by what he had taken from others and kept for himself, instead of giving freely (“hands”).

It was those self-binding actions that cast himself “into the outer darkness,” away from the light of Christ. In darkness souls suffer, because they are reborn time and time again into fleshy bodies that feel the pains of a sinful world.  In the world of flesh “there will [always] be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Lamentations will always be for the pains of that which was lost; and the gnashing of teeth comes from eternally biting on the backs of others, causing a karmic debt that makes one’s own back always be bitten.

The “outer darkness” is the opposite of an inner light.  To be cast there is to deny the Mind of Christ.  The outer darkness is all the answers a Big Brain becomes speechless to know.  The inner light comes from a heart in love with God.

This moral then makes it easier to read the last verse, which states: “For many are called, but few are chosen.”  It can lead to confusion, since the man who ended up being cast out can seem to have answered a call. Why, then, wasn’t he chosen?  Doesn’t God love everyone?

The man has to be understood as being there under false pretenses. It is like someone going to a church because he thinks he will be more promotable at work that way. The man was not there to be committed to God and Christ on a permanent (24/7/365.25) basis. He was called, but he rejected the true call.

When we read “few are chosen,” certainly God only allows those who love Him deeply from their hearts, to marry Him and become One with the Trinity – be a Saint.  But, the deeper meaning is (sadly) how few will choose to sacrifice their egos and submit totally to God’s Will.  All are called to do that, because the “slaves” took the invitations to those who were not born of a special race and/or religion.  No one goes to the kingdom of God simply by birth, with no special requirements of any kind.

One has to earn that.  And, when they say you can’t take it with you, it means more than material things.  No Big Brains allowed either.  The young, rich ruler who Jesus told how to be assured or eternal reward was to get rid of that brain that thinks having more than others makes that point.  Then, when Jesus said, “Follow me,” that meant accept God’s invitation to be married, so he would be the next Jesus … Christ … God’s Son.

If only the males of the world could see themselves as called to a wedding banquet to be the bride of God … to become “his son” through marriage … then the world would have a chance of being a better place.  However, the world makes men surround themselves with that defender mentality; and it is hard for both sexes to sacrifice ego and trust in the LORD.

We all know there is only one Son of God, who is Jesus Christ, who sits at the right hand of God. Marriage to God brings about the rebirth of Jesus Christ in the one wearing the wedding gown, reclining before God in subservience. This is quintessentially the meaning of being Christian.  Listen to what the “slaves” are saying.

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Philippians 4:1-9

My brothers and sisters, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, my beloved.

I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. Yes, and I ask you also, my loyal companion, help these women, for they have struggled beside me in the work of the gospel, together with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are in the book of life.

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.

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This is the Epistle selection from the Episcopal Lectionary for Year A, Proper 23, the nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost. It will next be read aloud in church on Sunday, October 15, 2017. It is important because Paul made a call for Apostles to be steadfast in their support of one another, making it a point to mention the role women played in assisting in the spread of the early church.

Chapter 4 of Paul’s letter to the Christians of Philippi is the end of that epistle of encouragement. By beginning his closing statements with, “My brothers and sisters, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, my beloved,” he was stating their closeness in Spiritual relationship. They were all, sender and receivers, “firm in the Lord” as true Christians, filled with a deep love of God, gifted the Christ Mind, via the Holy Spirit of God. This statement of closing says the love of God produces a love within, which is so strong it generates a desire for others to seek their own inner strength of love. They are brothers and sisters as born from the same love that comes from the Father.

When Paul named three people of the church in Philippi, to whom the whole of the epistle was written, those three (a number that is symbolic of initial completion, as representative of the Trinity) were in need of special attention. To recommend that the two women “be of the same mind in the Lord,” says they were still struggling to let go of their egos fully. That could have then been a statement of those two having opposite agendas for the Lord, thus making it difficult for one to fully support the other. Clement then became the one man that both women loved and respected, so he could mediate the differences between the two women. Therefore, Paul was asking all to leave their egos behind and follow the one mind of Christ, as that represents a strengthening of their faith.

On a symbolic level, the names of those mentioned have meanings. A name (then) was given as a parent’s blessing to a child, as a prayer to the Lord. A name then reflects a parent’s wish upon the life of the child, which the child then knows to live up to. Euodia means “Good Road” or “(Have a) Good Trip.” It can be used to denote “Success!” or “Good Luck!” Syntyche means “Great Fortune” (Good or Bad Fortune), but can also mean “Accident” or “Happy Event.” Clement means “Calm or Peaceful or Tranquil.”

Given these name meaning, for Paul to write: “They have struggled beside me in the work of the gospel, together with Clement and the rest of my co-workers,” the intent is less to say those people were actually with Paul in his travels; but the purpose was to show how they were remembered by the meanings of their names, as Paul struggled in his evangelism. Paul needed to find the “good road” to travel, so he had “a nice trip” spreading the Gospel. He was having the “good fortune” of encountering people of all walks in life (some good and some bad), with each meeting yielding the “happy event” of another soul led to Christ. Those people met Paul seemingly by “accident.” Still, through his travels, Paul longed for those friends in Christ that he had to leave behind. Therefore, he struggled with that heartfelt pain, by remaining “calm” and at “peace” in the Lord.  Paul reached out to the other disciples of Christ, with true love and affection … that of brotherhood.

The remainder of this letter touched on the traits characterized by the presence of the Holy Spirit. Those become the measuring sticks that show one’s growth in spiritual love. Those traits are: 1.) “Rejoice in the Lord,” as your heart leads your brain; 2.) “Gentleness,” which means one is considerate of others; 3.) “Do not worry,” because fears only come in the absence of God’s love; 4.) “Prayer and thanksgiving,” which is staying in touch with the Lord’s presence within; 5.) “The peace of the Lord,” which is letting the Christ Mind lead your actions; and 6.) Be a model of Christ Jesus, which means all truth, honor, justice, pleasure, and commendation that comes to you is due to his presence within.

In this closing chapter of Paul’s letter to the Philippians, the message that should be taken today is Love. Paul is doing (naturally) what Jesus said to do: “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” (John 13:34) Jesus said that to his disciples at the Passover Seder meal (the Last Supper), and should not be read as a general “love everyone” message. This is known by the subsequent verse, which says, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Therefore, Paul was doing as Jesus would have him do, from his heart and soul.

Paul loved his brothers and sisters, and everyone knows that Paul was a disciple of Jesus Christ because of the love he showed in his travels and follow-up letters. It is a commandment given by God, through His Son, and is therefore not an option.  To be Christian is to support all Christians with love and acceeptance.

What Christians do not read in the books of the Holy Bible are the letters written back to Paul. Paul might have received letters from Euodia, Syntyche, and Clement while traveling, which he responded to in this letter’s closing statements. The same answer spoke to all three.

The point is a true Christian does not shun other Christians. Love is not a silent emotion. Love throws its arms around its brothers and sisters in Christ; and when physical touch is impossible, love throws its arms around its brothers and sisters in Christ through communications and prayers.

It is not the confessions of the disciples that proves they have obeyed this final commandment of Jesus Christ. Jesus gave that command as he was telling the eleven that one would betray him. Judas Iscariot stood as a symbol of Christians without true faith.  As such, many will confess they believe in Christ, but not all will join together in unity and steadfastness, as some will sneak out in betrayal.

The measure of success is then the love one expresses to other Christians – the Acts of the Apostles.  And that love is known by God , as He knows the heart quite well.

Love comes from the heart, where the throne of God rests. Are you of one mind, which means God sits upon that throne in you – making you his kingdom? Or, do you keep God from ruling over you, because there are so many other Christians who promote agendas in opposition to yours?

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Exodus 32:1-14

When the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people gathered around Aaron, and said to him, “Come, make gods for us, who shall go before us; as for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.” Aaron said to them, “Take off the gold rings that are on the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me.” So all the people took off the gold rings from their ears, and brought them to Aaron. He took the gold from them, formed it in a mold, and cast an image of a calf; and they said, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!” When Aaron saw this, he built an altar before it; and Aaron made proclamation and said, “Tomorrow shall be a festival to the Lord.” They rose early the next day, and offered burnt offerings and brought sacrifices of well-being; and the people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to revel.

The Lord said to Moses, “Go down at once! Your people, whom you brought up out of the land of Egypt, have acted perversely; they have been quick to turn aside from the way that I commanded them; they have cast for themselves an image of a calf, and have worshiped it and sacrificed to it, and said, ‘These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt! The Lord said to Moses, “I have seen this people, how stiff-necked they are. Now let me alone, so that my wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them; and of you I will make a great nation.”

But Moses implored the Lord his God, and said, “O Lord, why does your wrath burn hot against your people, whom you brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand? Why should the Egyptians say, ‘It was with evil intent that he brought them out to kill them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth’? Turn from your fierce wrath; change your mind and do not bring disaster on your people. Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, your servants, how you swore to them by your own self, saying to them, ‘I will multiply your descendants like the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have promised I will give to your descendants, and they shall inherit it forever.’“ And the Lord changed his mind about the disaster that he planned to bring on his people.

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This is the Old Testament selection from the Episcopal Lectionary for Year A, Proper 23, the nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost. It will next be read aloud in church on Sunday, October 15, 2017. This is important as it is about the Israelites building an idol of a golden calf, when Moses was not back on time; and how Moses seems to bargain for the LORD’s patience.

To me, this reading has been a source of slight confusion. First of all, Aaron appears to have fallen in with the wayward Israelites, even helping them with their rebellion. Second, it seems to make God appear surprised at that panic in the camp at the foot of the mountain. However, knowing the truth is always spoken in Scripture and confusion is always a matter of not putting deeper thought into that which confuses, I believe I have something to offer about these aspects of the reading.

In the Exodus 19 we read, “Moses said to the Lord, “The people cannot come up to Mount Sinai, for You warned us, saying, ‘Set bounds about the mountain and consecrate it.’” Then the Lord said to him, “Go down and come up again, you and Aaron with you; but do not let the priests and the people break through to come up to the Lord, or He will break forth upon them.” (Exodus 19:23-24) A.) This means that Aaron was holy, just as Moses was holy; and B.) Moses came down from the mountain of God and presented the Laws to the people, as was the reading from Exodus 20, about the “Ten Commandments,” the selection for Proper 22 Sunday.

Now, in Exodus 32, we have jumped beyond the chapters that tell of the other laws, and the willingness of the people to serve the LORD. They accepted the Covenant. Chapters 25 through 30 deal with building an ark to hold the tablets, the specifics of the tabernacle, and the specifics of the priests who will be allowed in that holy place. Aaron and his sons were designated the first priests of that tabernacle. This means chapter 32 is like one of those Quentin Tarantino time jumps (i.e.: Pulp Fiction), or it is a dream sequence.

Wait. He was in Pulp Fiction?

When the story of Genesis was telling about Abraham, a similar dream sequence was presented in the second telling of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. Abraham’s nephew, Lot, was simply held ransom by the kings of the five cities on the plain in the first telling (where Sodom and Gomorrah were two of those cities), at which point Abraham got some friends together and went and defeated those kings, freeing Lot. Several chapters later, we then read the dream of the fire and brimstone destruction, after Abraham bargained with God about saving those cities … if there were five good people in them. Lot became a weak character in that second telling of Sodom and Gomorrah (along with his whole family), much like Aaron appears to be in this second telling of Moses on the mount.

The reality is that the dream sequences are not to be read as literal history. The dream sequences are to be read as prophecies, with prophecies focused on an omnipresent and continuing future. In dream sequences, metaphor plays a greater role in interpretation. However, a dream sequence cannot ever be used as reason for doubt, as an error reproducing a previous story.  Anything that seems to be contradiction is not.

Realizing that prophecy needs to be seen as the value here, we read: “When the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people gathered around Aaron, and said to him, “Come, make gods for us, who shall go before us; as for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.”’ The Hebrew word translated as “delayed” is “ḇō·šêš” (or “buwsh”) which is rooted in the word “bosh.” That word actually states “to be ashamed, or disappointed.”

This means the entire dream sequence is founded on a time when the people shamed Moses, after he came down with the Law. It reflects their disappointment caused by their inability to honor those holy laws, leading them to figuratively seek Aaron.  That name means, “Very High” (Jones’ Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names) or “Bright” (NOBSE Study Bible Name List). This means the people will invariably fail to live up to their commitments to God and seek out a surrogate in their stead (a king to be like other nations, a pope to be God’s link to mankind, or a televangelist who needs money to keep from being called home by God).  It is an ongoing disappointment.

In this reading, Aaron became the figurehead spokesman for God, whom the people approached, saying, “Come, make gods for us, who shall go before us; as for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.” The Hebrew word translated as “gods” is the infamous “elohim,” which in Genesis chapter one was written many times, with each routinely translated in the singular (and capitalized) as “God.” By matching the plural number to “us” and the prior use of “the people,” it is easier to see how the Israelites asked Aaron to make them (little-g) “gods,” as those chosen by God to be led out of Egypt.

In the prophecy, this says a future will come when the people will act as gods on earth, due to their religious heritage. Certainly, there are many Christians who see the Jews in this light, and the history of disappointment to uphold their end of the Covenant with God  making the Jews a fulfillment of this prophecy. Still, Christians do a good imitation of the miserable records held by “chosen by God” people, with their shameful acts in the name of Christ.

Seeing Aaron, a “Bright,” upstanding holy man (man of the cloth), who has suddenly been elected to a “Very High” position of responsibility, a quick brain hears the people clamoring for him to make them able to claim eternal life in heaven ownership (“gods”).  Having gone to his head, he does what all future High Priests, Popes, and Megachurch pastors always do. Aaron said, “Bring me all your gold!”

By specifying “golden earrings” (“gold rings”) the symbolism is the people wanted to be “gods,” but they sought words of approval about material wealth [golden news to their ears]. Therefore, this is a prophecy of the people wanting to see holy men in robes, holding tall staffs, wearing “Very High” hats, who live in palatial estates that are trimmed in gold; and it is a statement of the willingness of the people to contribute to that end.

In regard to this, we read: “[Aaron] took the gold from them, formed it in a mold, and cast an image of a calf; and they said, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!”’ This is an over simplification of the Hebrew text, as it is not actually stated, “He took from them.”

The literal translation has Aaron “receiving [the gold earrings] from their hands,” which makes the gold an offering, more than a demand. It was motivated by an instruction from the “Very High” holy man, but compliance was never mandatory.  It is received in the same way that believers are told they can do the Lord’s work by sending them their pledges and check.

Once the gold was received, it was then “fashioned with a graving tool,” which says the gold was altered with some form of writing etched into the earrings. This was a separate process that took place, prior to the gold being changed into a “molten calf.”

The Hebrew words that are translated as “molten calf” are “‘ê·ḡel mas·sê·ḵāh.” There is evidence that this translation may be misleading and not saying the golden earrings were melted and poured into a mold. Such a transformation would negate all fashioning with an engraving tool, begging the question, “Why do that?”  In the reading read in church, this aspect of engraving is omitted in translation.

The word “egel” does mean “calf,” but “maccekah” (the root word) means “covering.” It makes more sense that Aaron would call for a real, live, “nearly grown male steer” to be brought before him. The golden earrings would have been engraved with the names of the families contributing them, and these would be “made” into a ceremonial “covering” of metal, which would be placed over that “calf.”

I imagine that, especially from a distance, the calf would look golden when covered in a woven spread with many thousands of golden earrings pinned to it.  It would look like a young live bull had been molded as molten gold.

Given this possibility, Aaron saying, “These are your gods, O Israel,” is a plural statement that the individual earrings were symbolizing the wealth given to the Israelites as they exited Egypt. This makes revisiting Exodus 12:35-36 worthwhile, which took place after the angel of death passed over the Egyptians and killed every firstborn male.

As their exodus began, we read: “Now the sons of Israel had done according to the word of Moses, for they had requested from the Egyptians articles of silver and articles of gold, and clothing; and the Lord had given the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they let them have their request. Thus they plundered the Egyptians.” (NASB)

This can now be seen as Aaron calling for all those ill-gotten gains, which would be deemed as the cause for why Moses was “delayed.” Worry had set in that God was no longer leading them because of that greed. So, with all those Egyptian earrings pinned to a cloth spread that was placed over a bull of sacrifice, it makes perfect sense to read, “When Aaron saw this, he built an altar before it.”

From Genesis 4 and throughout the Old Testament, an altar was “a place of slaughter or sacrifice” (the meaning of the Hebrew word mizbeaḥ, which is written in the text of this reading). Christians today seem to think all the Old Testament altars were some stone barbecue pits, used for outdoor grilling and fun. All the people in the Old Testament who used altars were priests, those who ritually sacrificed fresh slaughtered animals to please God. Ordinary people had campfires and usually ate breads, dairy products and vegetables. Therefore, Aaron had an altar built to sacrifice a living, young bull “calf.”

Popes don’t make steak sacrifices.

It is difficult for me to grasp Aaron making an altar to sacrifice an idol made of gold.  I am fairly certain this is not commonly taught, so I ask you: “What does you brain tell you about this?”

When Aaron then said to the Israelites, “Tomorrow shall be a festival to the Lord,” the word written that is translated as “Lord” is “Yah·weh.” This means the calf was not a sacrifice to Egyptian gods. It was a cleansing offering to YHWH – “I Am that I Am” – the One God of Israel (and Jesus and Christians).

To then read, “They rose early the next day, and offered burnt offerings and brought sacrifices of well-being; and the people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to revel,” the people celebrated a festival not commanded by God.  This too acts to say this reading from Exodus 20 is then a prophecy of such festivals.

Rosh Hashanah (Beginning of the Year) and Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) can be seen as such a Jewish festival of New Year celebration. The Day of Atonement is when a scapegoat is released into the wilderness, carrying away all the sins of the people.  In John there is mention of the Festival of the Dedication (aka Festival of Lights – Hanukkah), which was added when the Second Temple was erected.  None of these festivals were ordered observed by God. However, this festivity that seems dedicated to God does not stop there.

In America, there is Thanksgiving, which is in some sense a quasi-religious holiday, where Americans (mostly Christians) give thanks for all the fruits of a new world. The festival known as Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday) and even Halloween (All Hallows Eve) are examples of how Christians like to party, more than care about a religious connection to a holiday (from holy day). These can then be seen as the symbolism of this festival created by a High Priest, Pope, or King (President, Prime Minister) and not God.  This story of Aaron and the golden calf festival prophesied that future that has since come.

When the focus of the story then goes to God and Moses on top of the mountain, we have an example of the Abraham story retold, when he bargained with God about how few holy people being present in wicked places would be required for God to spare those places His wrath.

At this point we read, “But Moses implored the Lord his God.” This also is a weak translation of what is written.

The literal translation states, “And sought Moses the face of the LORD his God.” This includes the Hebrew word “paneh,” which was the last word in the First Commandment, the one that all translations leave out. That Commandment fully states, “Thou shall not have the face of another god before [God].” The same words still mean you should not hold any other gods in higher respect than the LORD; but that now includes the face of one’s self.

The presence of that word here says that Moses did not speak as holy Moses, as if he were an equal to the LORD. In the same way, Abraham did not debate with God wearing his face as worthy of divine consideration. Moses then spoke as God speaking through him, because “the face of the LORD” was upon Moses.  Undoubtedly, that face had a bright glow.

Keep in mind the symbolism of Moses being with God, on a plane that is high above the ordinary folk. Remember also how Peter, James, and John (of Zebedee) saw Jesus aglow next to Moses and Elijah. The symbolism is Moses was in heaven with the LORD, and the LORD was telling Moses to “Go down at once!”  Those stubborn Israelites are at it again!

The same soul in Moses was in Elijah (who went down and ascended without death), and in Jesus (who went down and ascended after death and resurrection). What God told Moses in anger was a prophecy of the terrible ways that his priests were foreseen to act. For God to say, “Now then let Me alone, that My anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them; and I will make of you a great nation,” that is a prophecy of Christianity  to come.  A “great nation” of Moses followers would come through Jesus Christ (the same soul as Moses).

When we then read how Moses told the LORD a thing or two about how it would be wrong to punish the people He just saved, this has to be seen as God speaking through the face of Moses. The defense of mankind’s priests would come through the Judges, David, the Prophets, and Jesus of Nazareth (then Apostles).  All would come speaking to the children of Israel who had sinned, telling them to repent or face destruction. Jesus and his followers were like Lot and his small family, in the corruption that was Sodom and Gomorrah, and the corruption that had come over Jerusalem.

Moses speaking as God on the mountain is a prophecy of all the prophets who would come in the name of the LORD. The message is always the same: “Repent or face destruction.”  It is (needless to say) a prophecy that is in effect until the End Times.

When this reading ends by stating, “And the Lord changed his mind about the disaster that he planned to bring on his people,” the LORD did not change His Mind. What was written was “way·yin·nā·ḥem,” which is rooted in “nacham.” That word means, “To be sorry, console oneself, or comfort.” It means God would send messengers of repentance to the people, which was part of His plan all along.

It is God’s pity for mankind that is why he bothers to comfort a bunch of stiff-necked backsliders.

I recall when in a class that was reading Genesis, I commented that God knew Adam and Eve would sin. I said it was part of His plan there also. However, a woman blurted out, “How can you say that!?!?!”

I replied, “Because God is Omniscient.” God knows the story from beginning to end, but we love to put a human face on God, because that makes him more approachable … more like an equal.  God is not surprised by anything human do.  He’s the Father, which means He has “eyes in the back of His head.”

Thus, the moral of this dream sequence prophecy is that God knows us so-called believers are like children who are told not to take a cookie from the cookie jar, which is then left unattended right in front of the children. To be born in a sinful world means sinners will abound … even those chosen by God to help redeem the ones not chosen.

To see anger in God is really to see anger in believers, when God is not giving believers their way. We love to say, “God turned His back to us,” when the reality is we turn away from God when we sin. The wrath of God is reincarnation, just as the wrath of a first grade teacher is to send little Johnny, who never learned anything, back to the first grade.

This prophecy tells us there will be the Law; but after that presence that will only mean breakage of the Law, requiring repentance.

Same story forever told.

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Matthew 21:33-46

Jesus said, “Listen to another parable. There was a landowner who planted a vineyard, put a fence around it, dug a wine press in it, and built a watchtower. Then he leased it to tenants and went to another country. When the harvest time had come, he sent his slaves to the tenants to collect his produce. But the tenants seized his slaves and beat one, killed another, and stoned another. Again he sent other slaves, more than the first; and they treated them in the same way. Finally he sent his son to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, ‘This is the heir; come, let us kill him and get his inheritance.” So they seized him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him. Now when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?” They said to him, “He will put those wretches to a miserable death, and lease the vineyard to other tenants who will give him the produce at the harvest time.”

Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the scriptures:

‘The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone;
this was the Lord’s doing,
and it is amazing in our eyes’?

Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that produces the fruits of the kingdom. The one who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; and it will crush anyone on whom it falls.”

When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables, they realized that he was speaking about them. They wanted to arrest him, but they feared the crowds, because they regarded him as a prophet.

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This is the Gospel reading from the Episcopal Lectionary for Year A, Proper 22, the eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost. It will next be read aloud by a priest in church on Sunday, October 8, 2017. It is called “The Parable of the Tenants,” and is important because Christians are the current tenants of the Father’s vineyard.

The context of this parable is it follows the parable of the two sons, which was the Gospel selection for the prior Sunday. When we begin by reading, “Jesus said, “Listen to another parable,” there is no space of time between the two.  Both parables are told to “the chief priests and the elders,” those who questioned Jesus’ authority to teach on the Temple steps.

Additionally, at the beginning of Mathew’s chapter 21, Jesus entered Jerusalem on a donkey with her colt, for his final Passover. So, Jesus was speaking in Jerusalem, prior to his being arrested.  At the beginning of Matthew 26, Jesus said “As you know, the Passover is two days away.” (Matthew 26:2) The day of preparation (Friday) was one of those two days, with Passover Day being on Saturday (Shabbat), the second day away.

The Seder meal (the Last Supper), beginning after 6:00 PM, was thus on the Sabbath eve.  This means Passover (15 Nisan) began on a Shabbat and ended eight-days later on another Sabbath. This means one can deduce how Matthew’s chapters 21 to 25 (and the beginning of 26) were accounts of Jesus’ time in Jerusalem over a four day stretch: Monday through Thursday.

The parables were told to the pilgrims who were gathering in increasing numbers for the week-long festival, and the officials overseeing the festival were also about, checking things out.  Therefore, these stories should be seen as the inspection of the Lamb to be sacrificed.  Jesus made himself publicly available for all to inspect; but Jesus knew the ones who held the slaughter knife would be the ones looking most closely.  The parables told there are how we know Jesus would be found unblemished.

With that understood, look now at the symbolism of a vineyard, one with a fence around it, with a wine press within and a watchtower overlooking. Certainly, that was meant to be seen as metaphor for Jerusalem, which was a beautiful walled city, with a refurbished Temple (credit to Herod) built to the LORD.  Upon its watchtowers, at its gates of entry, were the watchers.  That symbolically meant the watchers of that Temple, who were the high priests, scribes, Sadducees and Pharisees. However, because Holy Scripture is the Living Word, can you see how the same parable is speaking also about modern times and modern places?

Beginning with a focus on the vineyard, this is that of Christianity.  The wine press represents the churches devoted to Jesus Christ.  The fence represents the restrictions (as laws) that mark a nation as obedient to the LORD.  Finally, the watchtowers are manned by those whose job it is to protect the holiness of that vineyard.  We should see them as kings, popes, priests, pastors, ministers, rabbis, and preachers.  Do you see that from this parable?

This means to hear these words as those spoken long ago, about people who have long since died, as a parable to be focused only on a religion that makes it exclusively pertinent to Jews is WRONG. The past is long gone, but Jesus is telling us today, “Listen to another parable” relative to those who say they follow him.  Therefore, it means combing through the wool to find how this parable is always a perfect analogy of now, and not a blemish on Jesus, who spoke as the mouth for an All-Seeing God.

Many a Crusade has been fought to gain possession of THE Holy Land. The Jews and Arabs who farmed the land were always caught in the middle, as the poor folk living there.  Minding their own business, they were being killed by the religions of Roman Catholicism and Islam. Still, was not North America a holy land to Native Americans (tribes of people who saw Mother Earth as sacred and unable to be possessed by Man); and did they not find the religion of the white man meant, “Give us all you’ve got, or we’ll kill you heathens in the name of Christ”?

Think about that history (I know history always put students to sleep, but try to stay focused and do that), and see if any of that recorded past sounds like, “The tenants seized [the] slaves [of the landowner] and beat one, killed another, and stoned another.”

The theft of land, as if legal and proper if an official declaration of war is made so the spoils go to the victor, is still theft.  If the declared “war” results in a greedy adult snatching candy from the little hands of a baby, the declaration was evil and the war was one-sided.  Man cannot declare war for God; but God can wreak justice on all who take His name in vain.

Someone must have felt pangs of guilt over the pretend war that allowed the new United Nations to declare Palestine legal tender to the Jews of the world [new name Israel], didn’t someone?

Beginning way back when the “landowner” (psssst – it is God) “finally sent his son to [the Jews], saying, ‘They will respect my son,’” and the Jews had the Romans kill him (by divine plan), the same story has been repeated time and time again. It is a story that keeps on keeping on, as contemporary as can be.

The Inquisitions in Europe were examples of Christians nailing Jesus back on the cross, killing him again, so someone would be allowed a window of opportunity to kill anyone and everyone who moved that did not have a silver cross around their necks, for personal gain and quests to acquire more lands. The evil that exists in the New World today (way too many corrupt players to name), began long ago.  Still, it kills Jesus Christ Monday through Saturday, before taking the family to church on Sunday (or otherwise relaxing).

Can you hear Jesus asking Donald Trump, Barack Obama, George Bush (x2), William Clinton, et al American Presidents, “What will the Father do to those tenants?”  If only politicians had hearts that loved God more than lobbyists.

The correct answer, which was given by the watchmen to Jesus, still applies today: “The Father will put those wretches to a miserable death, and lease the vineyard to other tenants who will give him the produce at the harvest time.”

One should read the symbolism of “miserable death” as being more than simply being drawn and quartered in the royal field of punishment. If killing was the answer to sin, organizing a storm and siege of Washington D.C., taking over the rule of the land, with the streets then lit by the burning corpses of government officials (and religious ones too) would be the answer.

The French peasants (led by Zionist Jews in Geneva) went there, did that.  After cutting off the heads off every royal figure they could try in a kangaroo court (a period known reflectively as “The Reign of Terror”), they found out that wasn’t the answer. Napoleon slapped some Republican sense into them.  Then, given a hundred years to let all that sink in, Hitler-karma came to even that score once again.

The path to Dante’s Inferno must go through France.

“Miserable death” means a soul sentenced to eternal reincarnation.  It is the misery of mortality.  All humans are born of flesh, to die in flesh that will always be in between – either a bad tenant stealing the land, or a messenger of the Father who is mercifully slaughtered as a sacrificial lamb.  Decisions, decisions.

When Jesus asked the watchmen of Jerusalem “Have you never read in the scriptures,” he quoted Psalm 118:22-23. Jesus quoted the part that focuses on a “stone that the builders rejected.” That “reject” is too simple to be seen as Jesus, because (after all) many Americans cry out “Sweet Jesus, save me” all the time (to no avail).

Needing salvation comes from having “rejected the stone that has become the cornerstone.” The “stone” rejected is the “Tablets of Stone” sent by God to His priests.  It is easy to revere the stone, on the one hand, but then point with the other and say, “Hide it away somewhere, so we don’t feel guilty about not living up to its righteousness.”

In the parable, the tenants had rejected the Law by stealing, killing, bearing false witness, coveting … you name it. The Pharisees and other officials of the Temple could easily see the answer to Jesus’ hypothetical question, because they had memorized those stones.  Still ….

They just did not live by those laws, whole heartedly. They rejected that stone, if it did not mean profit for them.

For the Law to become the “cornerstone,” they needed to cease using a brain that calculated, “This is the heir; come, let us kill him and get his inheritance.”  Instead, they needed to be like Jesus – living by the Law because he was filled with the Holy Spirit, the Mind of Christ, and love of God. With that cornerstone, you stop being the one taking advantage of a landowner and you start taking messages to those who do.

That is what Jesus meant when he said, “Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that produces the fruits of the kingdom.” If you are not bearing the fruit of an Apostle, who takes a message from the Father to the world, then you are breaking all the Laws God sent to His priests. Without acting faithfully as a true priest, you are still in the reincarnation “Return to Sender” category. No “kingdom of God” is in the future of the ones who love land (material things) more than heaven (spiritual gifts).

When Jesus told the watchmen, “The one who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; and it will crush anyone on whom it falls,” those “holy men” had all fallen upon the Law of Moses, like a Crusader hitting the shores of Jaffa, or a Pilgrim on the beaches of Plymouth Rock. Holding a cross in left hand and a sword in the right hand will crush the living life out of a soul’s wish for freedom from a world of sin.

A New Land with a new promise? Or a new opportunity for the New Testament?

When Matthew wrote, “When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables, they realized that he was speaking about them,” the next thing to ask is, “How do I fit into this parable?”

Can you see how Jesus was “speaking about” all Christians alive in the twenty-first century? Can you see yourself as a tenant in a leased vineyard that has an understanding (a Covenant) that you are supposed to tend the garden, pick some grapes, turn the ripe grapes into holy wine, and then stand before the landowner saying, “I not only have fulfilled my obligation, Sir, but I have done more than required. I offer you everything and thank you for allowing me to serve you in such a wonderful place.”

Help Wanted. Apply Within.

Or, are you paying the minimum, or skimming off the top, thinking there is still time to put back that which has been stolen … maybe … one day … we’ll see?

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Philippians 3:4-14

“If anyone else has reason to be confident in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, a member of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew born of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless.

Yet whatever gains I had, these I have come to regard as loss because of Christ. More than that, I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and I regard them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but one that comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God based on faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

Not that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.”

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This is the Epistle selection from the Episcopal Lectionary for Year A, Proper 22, the eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost. It will next be read aloud in church on Sunday, October 8, 2017. It is an important message from Paul, an Apostle and Saint, that says nothing of this world is worth sacrificing one’s soul for.

When Paul wrote, “If anyone else has reason to be confident in the flesh, I have more,” he wrote of the false assurances one thinks one has because of following the orders of Man (those in religious robes). When Paul then went on to make statements about his devotion as a Jew – a member in the “God’s Chosen People Club” – this should be taken (in our modern “Christian” times) as though Paul spoke for you.

Imagine Paul knows you as he knew himself. See him writing as if he knows your claims of the flesh.  A generic statement of your accomplishments might go like this:

“I was placed in a silver bowl full of holy water as an infant, sprinkled by a man (or woman) in a robe, and then placed in a cradle in the church nursery. I earned all gold stars at children’s church (Sunday school). Today I am an adult member of the church with the largest membership in the United States of America. I am a devout follower of the most highly recognized televangelist (or syndicated televised minister or local pastor whose Sunday service is telecast). I also graduated from a school with a revered seminary program (gaining a Bachelor of Arts degree, not a Master of Divinity). I am a regular attendee at my church on Sunday mornings (when not vacationing), with a plaque bearing my parent’s names on the sill of a stained glass window and everyone knows which pew my family sits on. I assist in the setting up chairs in the room where adult Sunday School is held (and sometime putting the chairs back). I am a devoted ten-percent tither, who also donates to multiple national charities. To top that off, I have been certified to assist the priest (or preacher) on the altar, as well as read aloud in church on occasion.”

Paul would say about you, as he said about himself: “As to righteousness under the law, [you are] blameless.”

Still, such resumes do nothing to gain entrance into Heaven, because it is lacking the most important qualification – humility. When Paul wrote about all the boxes he had checked off for righteousness, saying, “Yet whatever gains I had, these I have come to regard as loss because of Christ,” he was blind to what really counted.

If you remember, Paul was named Saul, when he was seen by the people who take notice of such things as being a devoted Pharisee in the service of the Temple of Jerusalem. The “I” was all important to Saul.  Thus he implied, “I was “circumcised of the eighth day.” I was “a member of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew born of Hebrews.” I was “a Pharisee.” I was “a persecutor of the church” (Christians). I was “blameless,” because I was somebody important.”

Saul lost his I-sight after encountering the Spirit of Jesus Christ and then became Paul. Can you hear his new Paulian voice saying, “I have come to regard [that] loss because of Christ.”

The presence of the Christ Mind changed him forever, as he lost the I that Saul’s ego was.

“I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord,” is a statement by a reborn Christ Jesus, named Paul.  That new name comes from the Latin adjective “paulus,” meaning “little or small.” That name symbolizes how such a proud, important, big-ego man lost all that he was, becoming most humble … a little man, as far as his self was concerned.

When Paul went on to write that his change meant he “suffered the loss of all things,” this says big egos are attracted to grand examples of God’s favor surrounding them. So many see worldly success as a sign of God’s approval to the way so many are living.  But, as Jesus told the young rich Pharisee in Matthew 19:21, “Go, sell your possessions and give to the poor … and then come, follow me,” big egos walk away sad, with heads hung down.

Their brains think, “Give up all things? I can’t do that.”

When Paul then wrote that righteousness “comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God based on faith,” one has to realize that “faith” can never be rewarded with “things.” True “faith” is belief in intangibles. When “things” come to those who check all the boxes that look good on a resume, their reward of “things” negates a heavenly reward.

When the brain is blind to spiritual rewards, it works just as hard as one of true “faith” does, but all the work done goes to reward self, in just one temporal life. Those works are “confidence in the flesh,” rather than confidence in God.

Righteousness is the intangible reward for true faith, because the presence of the Christ Mind supports the soul, as faith motivating the flesh.  The brain stops plotting what the flesh can do to bring even greater reward in “things.”  The Christ Mind uses that flesh to find more souls who need to see the light … they are motivated to fish for men’s souls.

For Paul to write, “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead,” this is THE desire for righteousness. Paul’s desire should be mirrored by all Christians.

All Christians want to know Christ, where knowledge is the Christ Mind within (not written in some book or on the pages of some sermon). The “power of his resurrection” is when one changes and is born anew as Christ Jesus. To feel one’s self “sharing his suffering,” one is walking in the footsteps of Jesus AS Jesus reborn, attracting souls and opposition. Thus, one has become “like him in his death,” by sacrificing one’s own self, like changing from Saul to Paul.

That says it is a requirement for everyone – Changing from (your name here) to another who is filled with the Holy Spirit of God, gaining a righteous name (“in the name of Christ Jesus”). The desire has to be there first, for you and all who want to gain the right to Heaven, in order “to attain the resurrection from the dead.”

If you look around you, you will find many souls born of death, simply by being in mortal bodies. They are born to die, over and over again, as eternal souls continually trapped in new bodies of flesh, which can only surround them until death returns. To “attain the resurrection from the dead,” your soul has to be released from this material world cycle.

Only righteousness brings that freedom.

By Paul writing, “Not that I have already obtained this [resurrection from the dead] or have already reached the goal [Heaven]; but I press on to make it my own,” he knew that Apostles are the ones who Satan most tries to lure back into the dead. Satan tempted Jesus in the Wilderness with wealth, fame, and worldly glory; but Jesus told Satan where to go.

The life of a Saint means one of tests and more tests, so one has to press on. The Holy Spirit makes that work be seen as happiness, amid denials of pleasure and the acceptance of suffering.

You cannot make it through the righteousness obstacle course alone. You need Christ Jesus making you his own, just as he made Paul his. That is why the I has to die.  Your ego’s death means God in your heart and Christ leading your thoughts.  Your body becomes another Trinity.  So, although you look alone, you are with good company.

That is why a promising resume cannot be written in the present, as everything in the past has to be forgotten. Straining forward is not the stuff that wins smiles from V.I.P.’s looking for new managers and partners, as suffering means the loss of all one’s old material world references.

The only writing that matters will be a headstone in a pauper’s field that says, “Here lies a fool who gave up everything for others.”

The Fool card symbolizes innocence with faith. Eyes to heaven about to take a leap of faith. He is not concerned about what happens next, as all he knows is, “I can no longer stay here.”

That is the kind of resume God likes. It is the kind that attains “the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.” And, if you are really good at gaining righteousness, people whose lives crossed your righteous path will write honorable words about the you who you became, when you changed, after you’ve gone to heaven.

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