Text: Isaiah 43:16-21
Sons of the American Revolution (Photo credit: bon_here)
Do not remember
the former things,
or consider the things of old.
I am about to do a new thing;
now it springs forth, do you not
Some interpreters suggest that in this passage, the Lord (through Isaiah) is calling on the Israelites to rethink how they tell the story of their founding. No longer are they to focus on the crossing of the Red Sea (who makes a way in the sea) and the defeat of Pharaoh’s army (chariot and horse, army and warrior). They are rather to recall the journey through the desert (a way in the wilderness).
For a people in exile in Babylonia, what difference might it make to refocus their national story from success in battle to sustenance on a wilderness way?
How do you or those around you tell your national story? What are the key events, the shared memories, the cherished figures? What might it mean to tell the national story in a different way? What might happen if we did not remember the former things? What new things might we be freed up to see?
– Andy Kille
“Between the Lines” is excerpted from BibleWorkbench, a weekly resource for engaging the biblical story in a new way published by the Educational Center in Charlotte, NC. For details and subscription information, see About BibleWorkbench.
In case you ever wondered if the people at the New Yorker magazine follow the lectionary, they were off by just a day! The First Reading for Sunday, October 9th was from the story of the Golden Calf in Exodus 32: 1-14.
On Monday, the cover of the New Yorker magazine dated October 10th carried an image of an industrial landscape with smoking stacks and, towering above it all, a temple surmounted by a bull (whose horns are also smokestacks). What was that question- where do you see this story in the world around you?
The New Yorker is hugely protective of its images, and so I can’t link to one that does it justice, but you can see the image here, in a zoomable format. Or, just look for a copy of the magazine.
A statue of a bull on Wall Street. Photo courtesy of Herval.
Text: Exodus 32: 1-14
So all the people took off the gold rings from their ears, and brought them to Aaron. He took the gold from them, formed it in a mold, and cast an image of a calf; and they said, “These are your gods, O Israel who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!”
I am Jewish and as a child, the boy next door was Catholic. I always felt he got the better deal because he had – in Jesus – an “image” of God that he could talk and pray to. We both said the same bedtime prayers – except I envied the fact that he knew who was “listening.” He had a statue of Jesus in his bedroom and there were pictures of Jesus hanging on walls throughout his house. All I had were figments of my imagination (who sometimes looked like Jesus) – especially since I was not allowed to mention the “J” word in my house.
If you are a Christian, imagine what it would be like to be raised or dealing daily with a “faceless” God. What changes? What doesn’t? What do you feel? What do you long for most in your relationship to this Divine presence in your life? Would you be content to live your questions and affirm your faith without a tangible image to talk to, pray to, believe in and relate to in other ways?
– Caren Goldman
Text: Exodus 16:2-15
In Hebrew, manna is a wordplay on the question “what is it?” that the Israelites ask upon seeing the bread from heaven that has come in the night. Although there have been many attempts to correlate the story of manna with natural events occurring in the desert, such as substances created by a kind of desert insect, the details of the story display features of the manna which are not likely to be literally true:
- there is enough for everyone
- no matter how much each person gathers, it always measures out the same
- the supply is for one day only; any leftovers spoil
- on the sixth day, each person gathers two measures, and the extra does not spoil, so that no work need be done on the Sabbath
- the people survive on manna for forty years
What has been “bread from heaven” in your life? What has sustained you, but resisted being hoarded or gathered? How has it been sufficient for your needs? Have you ever tired of it, or wanted something different?
– Andy Kille