Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Plainsboro study enjoyed a week off for some parish-wide "Living Faith" event that it seems japhy lectured at. But it isn't my parish, so I didn't attend. Instead, with the week off, I went over to Janet's study of Esther.

I had kept up, despite some cramming at the last minute, even though I wasn't attending weekly. She'd given me the book free of charge, so the least I could do was make good use of it. I was unaware of some of the themes she was promoting due to my general absence. But I wasn't dense: when she made me aware of them, I could readily agree with them. And the big theme is that God is with them in the Exile. He isn't just Israel's god. He is the only God and he isn't trapped in the Temple which, anyway, is destroyed.

The question that got me into trouble with everyone was #6. It'd be easy to just type it in here because I'm looking at it in the book. But I'll paraphrase. Mordecai's decree is tit-for-tat of Haman's decree but Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount says to love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you [Mt. 5:44]. Luke goes further with "do good to them."

On my own I thought of some others:1
  • Do not be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good
  • Do not repay evil with evil
  • Feed your hungry enemy, in doing so you will heap burning coals on his head
  • Always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else
  • Do not repay evil but with blessing, for to this you were called, that you may inherit a blessing
So the point of the study guide's question was whether God's message has changed. Someone said, "Yes" without hesitation.

And I saw this more clearly then than maybe I do now, at this moment. But the next question took us to Deut. 9:4-5 in which God promises to fight on Israel's behalf and assure the victory against those wicked nations in the Promised Land. So I said that God's message hasn't changed, that he fights our battles for us. We don't have to go on the offensive ... or the defensive. And, of course, the study leader's point was that God does that because the people aren't capable of doing it for themselves. OK, whatever.

Since they finished the study last week, I don't know what they are planning in the spring. Janet likes to use her own study guides, maybe to field test them a bit. However, she also likes to bounce back and forth between the Testaments but we already did Hebrews. I don't think she has any other NT guides, except Revelation. I don't even know what she's working on right now. Oh, well, my commitment at Plainsboro takes me through May with only a couple of weeks off for the "Living Faith" programs.

Someone mentioned a book that they had recently read. I just read the preview pages at Amazon. It seems like a dreadful book. The author has written a number of books for Moody so he must be alright. Well, anyway, I'm not a Baptist.

In preparation, I attended the early service there the Sunday before. I hadn't been there since Easter Sunday, quite a while ago. He talked about "separation:" how religious leaders criticized Jesus for not practicing it. And that we need to be approachable. "Jesus is the most tender with the people who are the most lost." I don't think I am.

1 Scripture references

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