You Are a Spice Rack – Br. Lain Wilson

John 7:37-52
Psalm 7:6-11

I’m sure most of us have spices in our pantries that just don’t get used that often. For me it’s fennel seed. I don’t really know what to do with it, and I’m happy using all the other, familiar spices.

And I’m sure that most of us can agree that cooking with just salt and pepper can be fairly boring.

As rich as the psalmist’s conception of God is, his descriptions of fellow people often feel a bit like salt-and-pepper cooking to me—simple binaries, like “righteous” and “wicked,” or types—the faithless friend. Of course, this isn’t what the Psalms are about; nevertheless, I often can’t help feeling a bit dissatisfied.

This morning’s Gospel reading displays a different dynamic. John describes the crowd as divided into at least three groups, in addition to the various authorities (who are themselves divided), and Jesus and his followers. This is a dramatic scene, with different beliefs, commitments, values, and desires demarcating the lines between and within the groups.

Nicodemus represents this. He’s a Pharisee and leader (Jn 3:1; Jn 7:50), who lays claim to “our law,” committed to both its authority and limitations. He’s also possibly a secret follower of Jesus, having come to him under cover of night earlier in the narrative. What he shows us here is not that his identities are exclusive, but that their coincidence, mixing, and expression make him an individual, set apart from the group. They give him agency, make him able to reach out, to speak for, to meet and relate with others in a different way. Read More

Judgement of God – Br. Curtis Almquist

Psalm 7:6-11

 

There is a curious request in Psalm 7, which we’ve just prayed together.  The psalmist asks for God’s judgment.  “Judge me, O Lord.”  And this request, this desire for God’s judgment, doesn’t just appear in Psalm 7.  It’s repeated a number of times in the scriptures, particularly in the psalms.[i]

Being judged is a sore subject for many people, maybe for you personally.  You might have faced a kind of corrosive judgment in growing up; you may live with it now.  The worst kind of judgment, demeaning judgment, is not what we hear from other people, which may be terrible.  The worst kind of judgment is what we hold in our own hearts against ourselves.  Demeaning self judgment often takes on an internal shouting match: silently yelling at ourselves how we should be better or different or changed in some way.  A proclivity to be self-judging, in a way where we always lose, not only zaps the life out of us, but also compromises our hope for the future.  It’s a minefield from which there may seem little prospect of escape.  And so, to hear the psalmist ask to be judged, to seek it out and solicit God’s judgment, may seem incredulous.  What are we missing here?

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