Thursday, September 27, 2012

Names of God in the Old and New Testaments

Through the normative witness of the Bible, we learn that there is only one true god and also that this one true god is Trinitarian in nature. Today we will reflect on the names by which we may rightly invoke and speak about this god.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Powers of Evil: Ends and Means

Ends. Powers of evil—Satan, false gods, the Flesh—hate God and all that God loves. They can’t get at God so they attack all that God created and called very good. They especially enjoy picking on us human beings. By doing so, they hurt those whom God loves most. They also grow in vitality by sucking it from us and from others through us. Nasty!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Powers of Evil: Evil Parody of the Trinity

Today we will be speaking, again, about powers of evil. On one hand, we want to keep such talk to a minimum. Our primary responsibility is to keep our eyes on Jesus Christ. On the other hand, this sidelong glance is good if it helps us to identify and dismiss the deceptions of those powers we so commonly misunderstand as truth.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Powers of Evil: Not God, Not Creatures, Just Absurd

In "Our Good Creation and Evil Break with God" (9/15/12), we talked about our good creation. God created us in his image; that is, as creatures capable of sharing relationships of freedom, truth, love, and vitality with him, one another, and the rest of creation.

We also talked about how, with Adam and Eve, we broke those good relationships. Into this rupture in our relationships rushed powers of evil which God had rejected on our behalf. Sadly, while God was able to consider and then reject them, we weren’t. Instead, they overpowered us and we became their inescapable victims and unavoidable collaborators.

Thebes: Valley of the Kings

Thebes was the very wealthy political and religious capital of Egypt from about 1550-1070 BC. During that time, Egyptian rulers had beautiful tombs for themselves carved into limestone hills across the Nile opposite the city. This area is now known now as the Valley of the Kings.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Our Good Creation and Evil Break with God (Genesis 1 and 3)

In a previous essay, I talked about the Trinity. I did that to emphasis that truth, freedom, love, and life are essential aspects of the core identity of God. In the next essay, I talked about how creation was a special expression of just these essential aspects of God. In this essay, I will talk a little bit about our break with God and its consequences.

Egypt: Thebes and Luxor

Thebes was the wealthy political and religious capital of Egypt from about 1550-1070 BC. Around 664 BC, an Assyrian army attacked Thebes and took much of its wealth back to Nineveh. Thebes never recovered its former glory. Yet the modern city of Luxor both rose from its ruins and prospers primarily from tourists who continue to visit them. Luxor is 314 miles (505 km) south of Cairo and 111 miles (180 km) north of Aswan.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Mount Sinai: Monastery of St. Catherine

According to tradition, Catherine was born around AD 280 in Alexandria, Egypt. She became a Christian around 295. In her youth, she became both a brilliant scholar and a radiant witness to Jesus. Hundreds of Olympians became Christians in response to her witness. In 305, when her converts included people close to the emperor, himself a devout Olympian, he had them and her murdered. Angels carried her body to Mount Sinai.

Egypt: Anthony of the Desert (ca 251-356)

The Coptic Monastery of St. Anthony is located in the desert mountains of eastern Egypt about 120 miles (200 km) southeast of Cairo and 30 miles (50 km) west of the Red Sea. It was here that the Christian tradition of monasticism began.

Anthony was born around AD 251 in Herakleopolis, near the oasis of Faiyum, about 84 miles (135 km) south of Cairo. His parents were wealthy landowners. He was 18 when they died. Afterward, he sold the family property, gave the proceeds to the poor, then went to live in the desert about 59 miles (95 km) west of Alexandria.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Cairo Geography

In terms of Egyptian history, Cairo is a relatively young city: nearby Memphis was founded in 3000 BC, Alexandria in 331 BC, but Cairo only in AD 970. The modern city now covers a huge area but, in its relatively small historical center, there are three distinct areas of importance. Old Cairo is a small area on the east bank of the Nile. Islamic Cairo is north of Old Cairo and east of Central Cairo. Central Cairo is north of Old Cairo and borders the Nile.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Nile Geography

Egypt is basically the Sahara and the Nile River. Since little rain falls in Egypt, the Nile River remains virtually the sole source of the region’s fresh water.

Almost all of that fresh water comes from the Blue Nile. Its headwaters lie in the highlands of Ethiopia. There the rain of summer monsoons wash silt off volcanic mountains. Then rain and silt head for the Mediterranean.

Jesus vs. Pluto (James 2:1-7)

My brothers and sisters, do you with your acts of favoritism really believe in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ? For if a person with gold rings and in fine clothes comes into your assembly, and if a poor person in dirty clothes also comes in, and if you take notice of the one wearing the fine clothes and say, “Have a seat here, please,” while to the one who is poor you say, “Stand there,” or, “Sit at my feet,” have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts? Listen, my beloved brothers and sisters. Has not God chosen the poor in the world to be rich in faith and to be heirs of the kingdom that he has promised to those who love him? But you have dishonored the poor. Is it not the rich who oppress you? Is it not they who drag you into court? Is it not they who blaspheme the excellent name that was invoked over you? (James 2:1-7, New Revised Standard Version).

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Djoser and Imhotep

Djoser ruled in Egypt for about 30 years beginning around 2670 BC. During that time, he sent soldiers into the Sinai to take control of turquoise and copper mines there.

5,000 with 5 Loaves: God’s Work and Ours (Mark 6:30-44)

Our goal as disciples of Jesus Christ is to witness, with what clarity and consistency we can, to all the freedom, truth, love, and vitality that are ours in Jesus Christ. For this to happen, Jesus must work graciously with us and we must respond gratefully to him. The story of the feeding of 5,000 people illustrates how this happens.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Narmer's Palette

Narmer was the first person to rule over both southern and northern regions of Egypt. He was also the first to make the city of Memphis his capital. Historically, northern Egypt consisted of the Nile Delta. Southern Egypt consisted of the Nile River valley between the southern end of the Delta and the first series of rapids of the Nile at Aswan. Narmer located Memphis at the intersection of both.

Some anonymous sculptor, living around 3,000 BC, portrayed Narmer as the first ruler of a united Egyptian state. He did this using a piece of flat grey silkstone measuring 2 feet (63 cm) long. The sculpture in relief was found in Hierakonopolis, Narmer’s capital in southern Egypt before he ruled all of Egypt from Memphis. The two-sided sculpture was discovered by English Egyptologists James Quibell and Frederick Green in 1898. It is now on display in Cairo’s Egyptian Museum.