Once again, tonight’s readings from Exodus (chapters 37 and 38) can be summed up very briefly. Moses is instructing the builders, carpenters and craftsmen on their task. We are told, in detail, about the Tabernacle, the Ark and all the paraphernalia around the tent.
Matthew 28 is a beautiful text, finishing with the familiar words of Jesus, (28:20) “I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” But there’s something else that I’d like to highlight. We are told that the guards who had been protecting Jesus’ tomb fainted when they saw an Angel appear. Later, after Mary Magdalene and “the other Mary” found the tomb empty, the guards woke up and ran to tell the priests what had happened. The elders bribed the soldiers to lie and to say that the disciples had stolen the body. (28:15) “So the guards accepted the bribe and said what they were told to say. Their story spread widely among the Jews, and they still tell it today.”
They still tell it today. Do they? I don’t know enough about the Jewish faith to know whether this is true, but it’s interesting that this verse is included here. I’ll be interested to read the other Gospel writer’s accounts of this incident. Judas was bribed by the temple elders too. I think it paints a very poor picture of their behaviour that they think it’s OK to buy people off like this.
Psalm 34 continues with a reading which reinforces the differences between the righteous and the wicked.
(34:14) “Turn away from evil and do good. Search for peace and work to maintain it.”
So it’s out there, as Scully and Mulder might have said, but even when you’ve found peace, you have to keep working on it.
Proverbs 9 has only two verses tonight. But they pack a punch! (9:10) “Fear of the Lord is the foundation of wisdom.” We’ve heard so much about wisdom (even hearing FROM wisdom herself!) but now we are told that first we need to fear the Lord. This might seem a bit odd, after all isn’t God all caring and loving? But it’s not wrong to respect God, and it’s not far from respect to fear. Fear need not be a bad thing, it keeps us on our toes.
So where was the Valentine’s Day love tonight? Exodus was a very difficult reading because it repeated what we have already read. Matthew’s Gospel had some challenging words to say about the priests. So we need to look at Psalms, which doesn’t usually let us down when we’re searching for a theme.
But not tonight! It’s all about hard work. Maybe the point is: we should not try to shoe-horn in our own pre-conceived ideas, but just listen to the words we are given.