My two cents worth

And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we saw his glory, the glory as of the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14; New American Bible) The phrase “made his dwelling among us” is translated several different ways: (translation, Bible)

  • “made his dwelling” NAB, NIV
  • “lived among us” NJB, NSRV, GNT, ISV
  • “dwelt among us” ESV, NASB, NKJ, ADV, DRB
  • “made his home” NLT
  • “lived here with us” CEV
  • “did tabernacle among us” YLT

That last one is from Young’s Literal Translation. It probably struck you as odd. But here’s my two cents worth: “pitched his tent among us.”  The word used is eskēnōsen from skēnoō, “to dwell in a tent” and it associated word skēnōma meaning “tent.” (Ref: Balz, Horst Robert, and Gerhard Schneider. Exegetical dictionary of the New Testament 1990: 252, 253)

I like my translation (however unqualified). It is graphic and telling just how “down in the dirt with us” is the Son of God. And that is love. Just saying…

Resolutions and habits

Unless you happen to be like my muse, Calvin, in the comic strip, I suspect you are about to make some New Year’s resolutions. How did you do on last year’s resolutions? About the same as the rest of us? One ad hominem wisdom saying defines “insanity” this way: to keep doing the same thing and expect a different result. Perhaps 2021 is a time to consider changing the way resolutions are considered, made, and hopefully, kept. Continue reading

Beyond Grateful

One of the great gifts to the Church are the heretics. I use that one-liner in order to grab people’s attention. It mostly generates the question: “what possible good could come from a heretic,” right? The thing about heretics is that they ask great questions, sometimes the critical questions. The problem is they get the wrong answers. They take a road leading away from Truth. And in the beginning it always looks like a promising direction.

One of the early and dangerous heresies came from the Deacon Arius of Alexandria about the year 300 CE. In short, he claimed that while Jesus was divine, he was a “second tier” divine, a lesser God so-to-speak, not co-eternal with God the Father. In other words, there was a time when he was “not.” Arius has his supporters, even among the court of the Roman Emperor. Armies formed, battles were fought, and people died. This was serious stuff. The Council of Nicea in 325 declared Arianism a heresy.

Continue reading

End of Watch

Serve in the military and at some point you will “stand watch” as we would say in the Navy. Each branch of the service has its own name. The experience is the same. I think anyone who has ever stood sentry, stood watch, served during the “dog watch”, been on duty during the long hours of the night as others sleep – we all remember the dilation of time as it seemed to slow and stretch forever. Biding time. Scanning for the first glimmers of light through the long shade of night. The tiring body, the yawns, talking to one’s self… and then the morning star pushed the first light over the horizon, slowly glowing, pushing back the night, and painting the world with a new day. At last, duty is done and one reports in to command, “Lord, now let your servant go in peace; your word has been fulfilled…Continue reading

Mercy and Justice

One of the great tensions in thinking about God, reading the Bible, and our own experience of life is how mercy and justice can operate together. That tension is succinctly expressed in two short verses of Scripture:

The LORD, the LORD, a God gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in love and fidelity, continuing his love for a thousand generations, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion, and sin; yet not declaring the guilty guiltless, but bringing punishment for their parents’ wickedness on children and children’s children to the third and fourth generation! (Ex 34:6-7)

Our friends at the Bible Project shed light on the context of the verses and give us food for thought about the context for our lives. Please support their great work.

Visitors from the East

Next Sunday is the The Epiphany of the Lord in Year A. You can read a complete commentary on the Sunday Gospel here.

1 When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, in the days of King Herod, behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, 2 saying, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star at its rising and have come to do him homage.” 3 When King Herod heard this, he was greatly troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 Assembling all the chief priests and the scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. 5 They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it has been written through the prophet: Continue reading

Villains and Innocents

The video above is a classic Christmas song known as the Coventry Carol. The carol was traditionally performed in Coventry in England as part of a mystery play called The Pageant of the Shearmen and Tailors. The play depicts the Christmas story the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 2. the carol itself refers to the Massacre of the Innocents, in which Herod ordered all male infants under the age of two in Bethlehem to be killed. It is a lament that is imagined having been sung by the mothers of the children lost to Herod’s cruelty. It combines the sound of their weeping with the gentle cadences of a lullaby. The lullaby is known as “Lully Lullay.” The account of the Holy Innocents is today’s gospel.

Continue reading

Last Words

LastWordsLast words. We have always place a special emphasis on last words. There are websites dedicated to recording the last words of famous people. Some are profound, some hilarious, and some ironic. Movies highlight the last words of the dying. I guess it is that we believe that for the person, this is their last shot at figuring things out, summing things up. We assume that at death’s doorway there is no need nor desire for pretense or fabrication, but only moments of deep, abiding truth and wisdom – and we hang on the edge of our seats. Continue reading

Nunc Dimittis

Sunday is the Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus in Year B. In years past there were no options for the readings. The gospel was always from Matthew 2, the death of the Innocents and the escape to Egypt. Now each lectionary cycle has its own gospel. This year the gospel is one of my favorite passages: Luke 2, the Nunc Dimitis, or the encounter with Simeon in the Temple. The moniker of the passage comes from the opening words in the Latin Vulgate translation of the Bible: “Nunc dimittis servum tuum Domine, secundum verbum tuum in pace” – 29Now, Master, you may let your servant go in peace, according to your word, 30 for my eyes have seen your salvation,31 which you prepared in sight of all the peoples,32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for your people Israel.”  (Luke 2:29-32)

Continue reading