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Reading the Old Testament Again/ A Book Review 110512
Of the things I count as blessings, one blessing is that I decided to become a Mennonite. A related blessing is the the thought and writing of John Howard Yoder. Reading his text, The Politics of Jesus made it clear to me I was not a Buddhist, not a Taoist, and not several other options, and was in fact a follower of Jesus, a disciple, and further, that I was a Mennonite. At the time it was unclear whether I would ever find a real Mennonite church, and sometimes I still am in doubt.
Ever since reading The Politics of Jesus I’ve been a New testament kind of guy. I really avoided the Old Testament, and whenever I read it, I was irritated at wasting my time on history, a history that was largely personally irrelevant to me.
Lately, the text The Politics of Yahweh by John Nugent has put me in my Mennonite place. What Nugent has done is do what John Howard Yoder could not do before his untimely death—-to assemble Yoder’s Old Testament writing and thinking into a cohesive and sensible volume.
The results are amazing, and make me want to be a disciple of Jesus all over. I’m certain that the effects of my reading show in what I’m writing here, and will continue to show in the years ahead, but I want, for now, to use the subject of this book review to discuss something I’ve observed in Mennonites over the years. That is, that there is the expectation and appreciation of intelligence, literacy and insight among Mennonites. Thus, for example, one of my favorite people is a Mennonite farmer, now retired, who remains very well read on Biblical theology, and very intelligent. Among the Mennonites I know he is probably the most intelligent, and one of the most well read, and, I would add, the most delightful to talk with.
So, we have this cultural expectation that we, as a people, will be readers, thinkers, questioners, discussers, and —believers.
I would encourage the same of us all. We are people of the ‘book’ (as Christians and Jews are sometimes referred to as). But we are also God’s people of the mind, as well as being God’s people of the heart.
Pray for peace.
Prayer List: Peace Mennonite Church keeps a prayer list for those in need. If you need prayer, or want to e-mail our pastor, e-mail billd @ peacemennonitechurch.net (Take out the extra spaces to use this e-mail—the spaces confuse spam generators).
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Romans 12:17-21; 13:8-10
The Message (MSG)
A David Psalm, After He Was Confronted by Nathan About the Affair with Bathsheba
51 1-3 Generous in love—God, give grace!
Huge in mercy—wipe out my bad record.
Scrub away my guilt,
soak out my sins in your laundry.
I know how bad I’ve been;
my sins are staring me down.
4-6 You’re the One I’ve violated, and you’ve seen
it all, seen the full extent of my evil.
You have all the facts before you;
whatever you decide about me is fair.
I’ve been out of step with you for a long time,
in the wrong since before I was born.
What you’re after is truth from the inside out.
Enter me, then; conceive a new, true life.
7-15 Soak me in your laundry and I’ll come out clean,
scrub me and I’ll have a snow-white life.
Tune me in to foot-tapping songs,
set these once-broken bones to dancing.
Don’t look too close for blemishes,
give me a clean bill of health.
God, make a fresh start in me,
shape a Genesis week from the chaos of my life.
Don’t throw me out with the trash,
or fail to breathe holiness in me.
Bring me back from gray exile,
put a fresh wind in my sails!
Give me a job teaching rebels your ways
so the lost can find their way home.
Commute my death sentence, God, my salvation God,
and I’ll sing anthems to your life-giving ways.
Unbutton my lips, dear God;
I’ll let loose with your praise.
16-17 Going through the motions doesn’t please you,
a flawless performance is nothing to you.
I learned God-worship
when my pride was shattered.
Heart-shattered lives ready for love
don’t for a moment escape God’s notice.
18-19 Make Zion the place you delight in,
repair Jerusalem’s broken-down walls.
Then you’ll get real worship from us,
acts of worship small and large,
Including all the bulls
they can heave onto your altar!
The Message (MSG)
10-12 When God, your God, ushers you into the land he promised through your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to give you, you’re going to walk into large, bustling cities you didn’t build, well-furnished houses you didn’t buy, come upon wells you didn’t dig, vineyards and olive orchards you didn’t plant. When you take it all in and settle down, pleased and content, make sure you don’t forget how you got there—God brought you out of slavery in Egypt.
13-19 Deeply respect God, your God. Serve and worship him exclusively. Back up your promises with his name only. Don’t fool around with other gods, the gods of your neighbors, because God, your God, who is alive among you is a jealous God. Don’t provoke him, igniting his hot anger that would burn you right off the face of the Earth. Don’t push God, your God, to the wall as you did that day at Massah, the Testing-Place. Carefully keep the commands of God, your God, all the requirements and regulations he gave you. Do what is right; do what is good in God’s sight so you’ll live a good life and be able to march in and take this pleasant land that God so solemnly promised through your ancestors, throwing out your enemies left and right—exactly as God said.
20-24 The next time your child asks you, “What do these requirements and regulations and rules that God, our God, has commanded mean?” tell your child, “We were slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt and God powerfully intervened and got us out of that country. We stood there and watched as God delivered miracle-signs, great wonders, and evil-visitations on Egypt, on Pharaoh and his household. He pulled us out of there so he could bring us here and give us the land he so solemnly promised to our ancestors. That’s why God commanded us to follow all these rules, so that we would live reverently before God, our God, as he gives us this good life, keeping us alive for a long time to come.
25 “It will be a set-right and put-together life for us if we make sure that we do this entire commandment in the Presence of God, our God, just as he commanded us to do.”
The Message (MSG)
17-19 Don’t hit back; discover beauty in everyone. If you’ve got it in you, get along with everybody. Don’t insist on getting even; that’s not for you to do. “I’ll do the judging,” says God. “I’ll take care of it.”
20-21 Our Scriptures tell us that if you see your enemy hungry, go buy that person lunch, or if he’s thirsty, get him a drink. Your generosity will surprise him with goodness. Don’t let evil get the best of you; get the best of evil by doing good.
- Safe Houses, Quiet Gardens 090712 (mennonitepreacher.wordpress.com)
- Hard Times for the Rich 092512 (mennonitepreacher.wordpress.com)
- We Never Know What to Do 100912 (mennonitepreacher.wordpress.com)
- Delivering Relief 092812 (mennonitepreacher.wordpress.com)
- Promises, Promises, Promises! 102312 (mennonitepreacher.wordpress.com)
- What’s New 110112 (mennonitepreacher.wordpress.com)
- Trying to Figure It Out 103112 (mennonitepreacher.wordpress.com)
- A Lot of Incense 101612 (mennonitepreacher.wordpress.com)
- What’s New, Part Two 110212 (mennonitepreacher.wordpress.com)
- Defining Neighbor 110312 (mennonitepreacher.wordpress.com)