Monday, April 8th
Throughout the year, the Massachusetts Conference of the United Church of Christ produces the Daily Lectionary for use by churches. These are the suggested readings for April 8th: Exodus 40:1-15; Psalm 20; and Hebrews 10:19-25. I would encourage you to read these short selections as part of your Lenten practice.
In one of my Old Testament classes somewhere along the line, I learned about amphictonic leagues. These would be loosely knit groups that were held together by a shared religious faith or shrine. The term comes from ancient Greece, but it applies as well to ancient Israel.
The twelve tribes assembled around a sanctuary to Yahweh at its center. The Tabernacle with its Aaronic priesthood that today’s Exodus passage describe is that religious shrine. It held the tribes together. Yahweh was literally at the center of their lives.
When the movable Tabernacle became the permanent Temple, David made sure that it was placed in neutral location so that all of the tribes could claim equal title to God’s sanctuary. Jerusalem was taken from a foreign people and became David’s capital. It sat at the border between northern Israel and southern Judah. Again, the sanctuary was at the center of the people of Israel, not unlike Washington, D.C., was at the center of the earliest United States of America.
During the Middle Ages, when the world was being discovered by European explorers, maps still insisted on God at the center. Christians designed maps that reflected discoveries, but also overlaid these with theology, and as such, Jerusalem was drawn at the center of the world.
We have obviously moved beyond these physical definitions, but is it not comforting to think in a spiritual sense of God at the center of our lives? The psalmist once wrote: “Some take pride in chariots, and some in horses, but our pride is in the name of the Lord our God.” Such a reliance on God testifies to a more tangible faith-life than many today expect. Often we place God at the fringe and we’re comfortable with that. God doesn’t intrude that way. But God at the fringe can’t inspire and transform us or our world the way God at the center can.
Jesus is a transformative Saviour. No one expected a Saviour like Him. He changed everyone who believed in Him, and He still will do the same if we let Him live at the center of our lives. This is something to at least consider in these last weeks of Great Lent.
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