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Jim Gordon
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Hello Robert, thank you for your comment. I think there are other ways of interpreting the Psalmist's words. I don't read it as gloating, or harming his enemies. Indeed the whole tenor of the Psalm is about the Psalmist's confidence in God to accompany him in every experience of life, including those times when circumstance, other people, or systems of power threaten him. The metaphor of the spread table refers more specifically to God as host, and the Psalmist as guest, and the those who wish him harm witnessing his faith in the God who provides. The more general point about "Love thy neighbour" is, of course, incontestable. Along with the Shema, this command sums up the whole law, said Jesus. Amongst other texts that affirm this is the parable of the Good Samaritan, Matthew 25.31ff, and Jesus whole ministry of compassionate engagement. Love for our enemies is the more radical way of the Kingdom of God, and goes beyond the neighbour criterion. That there are enemies, those who might wish harm to others, those for whom hate is a primary motivation, those who use violence of action, words and threat to instil fear and hurt - that is part of life. The question for followers of Jesus is how we respond to those who wish us harm. When Jesus says "Love your enemies", he acknowledges that enmity is a reality we have to deal with. Romans 12.14-21 and Matthew 5.43-48 could not be clearer. Love for one who considers herself or himself my enemy is spelt out - return good for evil; pray for those who hurt us; forgive 70x7 (which effectively means time without number). That still leaves some hard texts in the Old Testament which stand in opposing tension to the "Love you enemies command." They cannot simply be erased. For myself they have to be interpreted in ways that understand their original meaning and look for their present application in the light of Christ. Christ is the lens through which I interpret Scripture. As for the prophets you cite, I don't think Amos's words about justice can simply be lifted without reading the entire book which is about judgement upon Israel's enemies, and judgement and punishment on those who oppress, exploit and abuse the poor and vulnerable. Even more troublesome are the imprecatory Psalms and the Psalms of lament, some of which are prayers for vengeance on the cruel and implacable enemies of Israel. Psalm 137 is a powerful example of rage and outrage at the atrocities committed by Israel's enemies. Again, they can't be wished away. I read them, hear the anguish of them, but do so in the light of Christ's reconciling death and resurrection. If I ask how it can be shown that God's love is unconditional and inclusive, that is my starting point: and Romans 5.10 and 2 Cor 5.17-21 are two of the first texts I would personally consider as the theological and moral basis of God's unconditional love. Going back to psalm 23, you may have noticed I did not interpret the verse as one which prolongs or exacerbates enmity, but one which speaks of the hospitality and protective care of God. I hope all this helps a bit Robert, at least in clarifying my own interpretive stance.
Hello Adriano, good to hear from you. I think "their" is deliberately ambiguous,meaning both geese and the pioneers who went West, whose names are remembered. In which case 'Abandon' refers to the letting go of the pioneers as they moved into the unknown, and also to the winged migration of geese travelling their thousands of miles.
Thank you for your encouragement and generous words Bob. I found the series grew in ways I hadn't anticipated. At times the relevance of Herbert's thought and images to our current crisis was at times uncanny. I hope you are well, and keeping safe. Grace and peace from Scotland.
Hello Allan, and thank you for being in touch. I think it is a lovely and reassuring image, that our lives are safely deposited in Christ. Another way of saying nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. They are good words to say, perhaps because they both acknowledge the mystery of life and death, but also find an existential rootedness in the love that has overcome death. And if John Barton is OK with it..... His History of the Bible is such a refreshing read. God's blessing and peace on your ministry Allan.
That is very helpful Bob, and further illuminating! I agree Herbert almost certainly 'got' that pun. A senseless instrument - could that also mean a purposeless instrument, because without a player? Thanks for following my posts, and for the wee nudge on the Carnival!
Thank you for pointing that our Cecilia you are quite right and I've corrected as you suggested. Thank you for your encouragement too, Shalom, Jim
Raymond Brown has been a cornerstone in my library for more than 40 years. Brodie I have used only occasionally from the University library. And I still greatly value Barett, which I worked through as an undergraduate. After these, there are still riches out there!
Hello Chita - O'Day and Thompson are two of the best commentaries available in my view. They do different things and together provide fresh perspectives, careful scholarship, and both writers are writing for the church as well as the scholarly community. Thompson has more critical weight and engagement with more recent scholarship; O'Day had more space for making connections between the Johannine world and our contemporary world. I use them both and rank both highly.
Hello Kate - the quotation is from a book review in The Tablet, 26 Oct 2019, page16. The book reviewed is Timothy Radcliffe, Alive in God: A Christian Imagination, the quotation is by the reviewer Piers Plowright.
Toggle Commented Dec 12, 2019 on Advent in 100 Words: December 11 at Living Wittily
Thanks for pointing out the typo Bob - now fixed. Hope life is going well for you.
Thank you Isobel. I loved Peter as a father in God and a friend whose encouragement was one of God's long term gifts into my ministry. We think of you both with gratitude and as blessing in our lives, and think of you often Isobel.
Thank you Lisa - words are never adequate, but they are what we have to speak out of the heart.
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Nov 15, 2019