One of my favorite things to do on a summer day is to go to that place where the primal elements of earth, air, fire and water come together in a most exhilarating way, and where we can step out into the edge of the infinite—and perhaps get a bit of vanity tan while we’re at it. I love going to the seashore. When I go alone, I’m often drawn to contemplation of the primal elements, how those fundamental entities of physics can add up to all this—quarks, gluons, photons, electrons, bosons, etc. And how the “all of this” of our experience is but a speck in the incomprehensible vastness of the cosmos.
And to ponder the sailboats in the distance, how the interplay of volumes and masses and forces allows the boats to remain on the surface of the water, how the force of the wind is matched to the resistance of a sail to move the boat from one place to another. How the wind itself is set in motion by the fire of the sun. How the wind and tides set the ocean waves in motion and how chaos is unleashed when they meet the resistance of dry land. How life itself emerged from the chaos of the sea. Quite by chance—or not quite by chance…
Micah 6:1-8; Psalm 15; 1 Cor. 1:18-31; Matt. 5:1-12
Today we’re presented with some of the crown jewels of scripture. “…what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” One of those passages from scripture that concentrates so much truth. And the Beatitudes from the Sermon on the Mount: a necklace of the finest diamonds. Blessed are the poor in spirit. Blessed are those who mourn. Blessed are the meek, those who hunger for righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart. Blessed are the peacemakers. Jewels in scripture’s crown, showing us the way of blessedness.
But why are we so struck by the beauty and power of these passages? Why do they resonate so deeply within us? Why do we choose them above others? The Bible, after all, is a big book, a book of books, a library of many types of writing, a treasure chest of many things. Histories, poetry, hymns and love songs, parables, letters, sage advice, prophecies, legislation, lamentations, curses and maledictions. Tall tales and theological treatises. And, of course, many writers, each with a cultural setting, each with biases and limitations, each advancing an agenda.