Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

En los Salmos, así como en la vida, el enemigo está a menudo escondido y es un maquinador implacablemente. Aquí como en tantas otras observaciones, el libro de los Salmos muestra su característico realismo.

Somos más sentimentales y románticos con nuestros adversarios, al menos en los momentos en que podemos admitir su existencia. Nos va más o menos bien con el mal, pues es abstracto y remoto. Pero nos resistimos a la noción de gente malvada. Son muy concretos para nuestra estética postmoderna, en donde todos se mueven en la misma línea moral y casi cualquier acción se tolera si encontramos el ángulo correcto para entender sus causas.

El Salmo 21, aparte de un contexto bíblico más amplio que restringe radicalmente la autoridad del rey, podría ser visto como un fragmento de tiranía, una tosca porción ideológica que enmarca todo lo que el rey quiere a manera la voluntad y el camino de Dios. Pero ese contexto más amplio obstinadamente existe, por ejemplo, en la exhortación del Salmo 146 de no “poner tu confianza en los príncipes, en los mortales, en aquellos en los que no hay salvación”.

Algo fuerte, pero no tosco, está pasando aquí. El salmista ora para que su rey pueda ver a través de los siniestros designios de sus, y por lo tanto de nuestros, adversarios.

Hallará tu mano a todos tus enemigos;

tu diestra hallará a aquellos que te odian.

Aunque intentaron el mal contra ti,

y fraguaron una conspiración,

no prevalecerán. (Salmo 21:8, 11 LBLA)

Hace sólo una generación atrás, todo el mundo sabía que la gente y los pueblos tenían enemigos reales. Tal vez el avance relámpago de las últimas dos décadas nos ha hecho avanzar más allá de la sabiduría común de la historia humana y hacia un alumbramiento moral. O quizás hemos perdido el gusto por la realidad, con sus inconvenientes insistentes.

En los rincones más sórdidos y brutales de la humanidad, donde el giro de los acontecimientos no permite ningún lujo para excusar el mal y mucho menos a las personas malvadas, es algo común orar para que nuestros enemigos sean descubiertos antes de que se lleven a nuestro hijo o al de nuestro vecino. La conspiración y la maquinación no parecen proyecciones ilusorias cuando el carro bomba de la semana pasada fue colocado precisamente donde nuestras mujeres compran sus verduras los martes por la mañana.

Esos rincones oscuros pueden ser donde  nosotros vivamos algún día, Dios no lo quiera. Si es así, la oración de Israel para que la mano derecha de su rey encuentre a tiempo a sus enemigos saldrá de forma más natural de nuestros, alguna vez refinados, labios.

Read Full Post »

La espiritualidad bíblica comprende esa crisis extrema del cuerpo y del alma, dentro de la cual el ser humano se encuentra aterrorizado, angustiado, y deshecho en la presencia de YHWH. A veces, la calamidad del alma experimenta el silencio acusador de YHWH como su única e impía comunicación:

Señor, no me reprendas en tu ira,

ni me castigues en tu furor.

Ten piedad de mí, Señor, pues languidezco;

sáname, Señor, porque mis huesos se estremecen.

Mi alma también está muy angustiada;

y tú, oh Señor, ¿hasta cuándo? (Salmo 6:1-3 LBLA)

El vigor audaz y desafiante del miedo nos llega en dichas oraciones. Ellas proporcionan palabras para ese momento cuando pocos parecen capaces de asumir la angustia que parece suficiente para matarnos, pero en vez de eso escoge la determinación menos soportable para prolongar nuestro sufrimiento mientras los cielos permanecen en silencio.

Tampoco el placer catártico eleva el valor de esta pena, porque no hay ninguna. Sólo existe, así les parece a los que la conocen, la enfermadad degenerativa del alma que no tiene fin:

Cansado estoy de mis gemidos;

todas las noches inundo de llanto mi lecho,

con mis lágrimas riego mi cama.

Se consumen de sufrir mis ojos;

han envejecido a causa de todos mis adversarios. (Salmo 6:6-7 LBLA)

Hay un giro, incluso en una oración llena de frustración como esta, hacia la confianza de que YHWH es, de hecho, mejor de lo que parece, una esperanza de que responderá incluso después de su muro de indiferencia divina. Sin embargo, parece un último intento arrojarse a la esperanza porque la alternativa es más desagradable para ser soportada que una declaración de fe llena de emociones.

El Señor ha escuchado mi súplica;

el Señor recibe mi oración.

Todos mis enemigos serán avergonzados y se turbarán en gran manera;

se volverán, y de repente serán avergonzados. (Salmo 6:9-10 LBLA)

El lector que se apresura demasiado a la confianza que se esconde en esta conclusión lee incorrectamente. Más aun los amigos de los que sufren y que sólo pueden orar así, ofenden además a la espiritualidad bíblica cuando insisten que el que sufre debe soltar solamente palabras de esperanza.

Esta oración debe ser leída y vivida lentamente. Requiere un énfasis constante en la necesidad de escuchar sus palabras incluso en aquellas líneas donde parece que sólo un supuesto interlocutor tiene ganas de hablar en este presunto diálogo, cuando parece que YHWH no tiene lo suficiente para unírsele.

Sólo después de eso se puede hablar dignamente de la confianza en YHWH quien—Dios sea alabado—escucha y actúa. Antes de eso es un mero halago divino.

Read Full Post »

A chapel message delivered to the Arab Baptist Theological Seminary

27 January 2020

Probably the words ‘He is risen!’ best capture the explosive good news of the New Testament. If this is true, then the announcement of the end of Israel’s Babylonian captivity in Isaiah 40 may be the finest announcement of the Lord’s undying love in the Old Testament.

Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that her warfare is ended, that her iniquity is pardoned, that she has received from the LORD’s hand double for all her sins. (Isaiah 40:1–2 ESV)

عَزُّوا، عَزُّوا شَعْبِي، يَقُولُ إِلهُكُمْ.طَيِّبُوا قَلْبَ أُورُشَلِيمَ وَنَادُوهَا بِأَنَّ جِهَادَهَا قَدْ كَمُلَ، أَنَّ إِثْمَهَاقَدْ عُفِيَ عَنْهُ، أَنَّهَا قَدْ قَبِلَتْ مِنْ يَدِ ٱلرَّبِّ ضِعْفَيْنِ عَنْ كُلِّ خَطَايَاهَا.

We don’t know for sure to whom God speaks in this new commissioning of a message of comfort for Isaiah rather than the news of judgment that she has known previously. The Lord may be speaking to his Seraphim, as he does in Isaiah 6 when he first commissions his prophet Isaiah after asking ‘Who will go for us?’

Or he may be speaking to a new generation of prophets who have carefully digested both Isaiah’s message of sure judgement for Israel and his assurance that new mercy and a new beginning would follow after Israel’s term of captivity had been served.

Regardless, we read that some plural group of people is being summoned to deliver very good news to Jerusalem and to those in Babylon who must now find the courage to follow the Lord back home to Jerusalem to begin again in that promised city.

We need to pause now and listen as Rabih reads our entire passage for today, Isaiah 40.1-11. Because I am not the only English speaker in chapel today, I’ll read it first and then Rabih will follow in Arabic.

Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that her warfare is ended, that her iniquity is pardoned, that she has received from the LORD’s hand double for all her sins.

A voice cries: ‘In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.’

A voice says, ‘Cry!’ And I said, ‘What shall I cry?’ All flesh is grass, and all its beauty is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades when the breath of the LORD blows on it; surely the people are grass. The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.

Go on up to a high mountain, O Zion, herald of good news; lift up your voice with strength, O Jerusalem, herald of good news; lift it up, fear not; say to the cities of Judah, ‘Behold your God!’ Behold, the Lord GOD comes with might, and his arm rules for him; behold, his reward is with him, and his recompense before him. He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young. (Isaiah 40:1–11 ESV)

عَزُّوا، عَزُّوا شَعْبِي، يَقُولُ إِلهُكُمْ.طَيِّبُوا قَلْبَ أُورُشَلِيمَ وَنَادُوهَا بِأَنَّ جِهَادَهَا قَدْ كَمُلَ، أَنَّ إِثْمَهَاقَدْ عُفِيَ عَنْهُ، أَنَّهَا قَدْ قَبِلَتْ مِنْ يَدِ ٱلرَّبِّ ضِعْفَيْنِ عَنْ كُلِّ خَطَايَاهَا.

صَوْتُ صَارِخٍ فِي ٱلْبَرِّيَّةِ: «أَعِدُّوا طَرِيقَ ٱلرَّبِّ. قَوِّمُوا فِي ٱلْقَفْرِ سَبِيلاً لإِلَهِنَا.كُلُّ وَطَاءٍيَرْتَفِعُ، وَكُلُّ جَبَل وَأَكَمَةٍ يَنْخَفِضُ، وَيَصِيرُ ٱلْمُعْوَجُّ مُسْتَقِيمًا، وَٱلْعَرَاقِيبُ سَهْلاً.فَيُعْلَنُ مَجْدُٱلرَّبِّ وَيَرَاهُ كُلُّ بَشَرٍ جَمِيعًا، لأَنَّ فَمَ ٱلرَّبِّ تَكَلَّمَ».

صَوْتُ قَائِل: «نَادِ». فَقَالَ: «بِمَاذَا أُنَادِي؟» «كُلُّ جَسَدٍ عُشْبٌ، وَكُلُّ جَمَالِهِ كَزَهْرِ ٱلْحَقْلِ.يَبِسَٱلْعُشْبُ، ذَبُلَ ٱلزَّهْرُ، لأَنَّ نَفْخَةَ ٱلرَّبِّ هَبَّتْ عَلَيْهِ. حَقًّا ٱلشَّعْبُ عُشْبٌ!يَبِسَ ٱلْعُشْبُ، ذَبُلَٱلزَّهْرُ. وَأَمَّا كَلِمَةُ إِلهِنَا فَتَثْبُتُ إِلَى ٱلْأَبَدِ».

عَلَى جَبَل عَال ٱصْعَدِي، يَا مُبَشِّرَةَ صِهْيَوْنَ. ٱرْفَعِي صَوْتَكِ بِقُوَّةٍ، يَا مُبَشِّرَةَ أُورُشَلِيمَ. ٱرْفَعِيلاَ تَخَافِي. قُولِي لِمُدُنِ يَهُوذَا: «هُوَذَا إِلهُكِ.هُوَذَا ٱلسَّيِّدُ ٱلرَّبُّ بِقُوَّةٍ يَأْتِي وَذِرَاعُهُ تَحْكُمُ لَهُ. هُوَذَاأُجْرَتُهُ مَعَهُ وَعُمْلَتُهُ قُدَّامَهُ.كَرَاعٍ يَرْعَى قَطِيعَهُ. بِذِرَاعِهِ يَجْمَعُ ٱلْحُمْلاَنَ، وَفِي حِضْنِهِ يَحْمِلُهَا،وَيَقُودُ ٱلْمُرْضِعَاتِ».

I don’t know if you heard it while Rabih read, but in those last three verses, there is contagion. Jerusalem—or Zion—begins this chapter as the one who receives the astonishing news of her soon redemption. But then, in verses 9-11, she becomes the messenger—the communicator—of that same news beyond her boundaries to the ‘cities of Judah’.

Good news is contagious.

When we hear the word contagion these days, our minds may run to a different kind of contagion, the kind that has the world on edge as the corona virus sweeps through China and across her borders into countries like yours and mine. When I return to America on Saturday, I expect to be greeted in airports in London and in America by new measures that attempt to stop the spread of this mysterious and fearsome virus.

Contagion is mysterious and, sometimes, unstoppable. It moves from person to person in its own quiet and invisible way, spreading what I have to you and then on to your family members and your neighbors and so on …

It is quiet and it is invisible, but it is most real.

Happily, the contagion we glimpse in Isaiah 40 is a contagion that transmits life rather than death. It is a contagion that announces and creates a new beginning and a new future rather than taking that future away. It is a contagion that begins in the merciful and restorative heart of God himself, rather than in some broken corner of his twisted and suffering creation.

It is the announcement that a terrible thing has come to its end … has run its course … has expired. In its place, a profound comforting of Israel has come, for Israel shall be born again … this nation will start over … will now experience the right hand of the Lord’s restoration rather than the left hand of his judgment.

It is simply spectacular to me that this first announcement of comfort already anticipates that, when Jerusalem has received this good news and begun to live in it, she will become the herald of that same news to others who must hear it, live it, and in time become announcers of that news to still others.

This kind of contagion is natural. It is often both quiet and invisible, yet is it powerful and world-changing. It is God’s work and yet it is ours.

  • Have you received comfort? Let it flow to those who are afflicted.
  • Have your sins been forgiven? Forgive those who sin against you.
  • Has someone shared with you the news that Christ is for us? Share it with others.
  • Has someone loved you when you hated them or were still indifferent to them? Love those who hate or ignore you.
  • Have you been fed when you were hungry, sheltered when you were exposed? Feed someone else.
  • Was your heart once anxious and yet now has become calm? Share that peace with someone whose heart still races, who is still consumed by his fears, by her anxiety.
  • Has this seminary community been a shelter to you, a challenging school of personal transformation? Have you learned here how to live in community? Has God’s Word been opened to you here in fresh and new ways? Have you learned to love reconciliation, to believe that enemies can become friends, and that this too is God’s work?

Then return to Sudan, to Morocco, to Palestine, to Egypt, to Syria, to Iraq, to the cities and villages of Lebanon, to countries that I will not name here.

There be the living proof that God’s word is still ‘Comfort, comfort my people.’

Go on up to a high mountain, O Zion, herald of good news; lift up your voice with strength, O Jerusalem, herald of good news; lift it up, fear not; say to the cities of Judah, ‘Behold your God!’ Behold, the Lord GOD comes with might, and his arm rules for him; behold, his reward is with him, and his recompense before him. He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young. (Isaiah 40:9–11 ESV)

عَلَى جَبَل عَال ٱصْعَدِي، يَا مُبَشِّرَةَ صِهْيَوْنَ. ٱرْفَعِي صَوْتَكِ بِقُوَّةٍ، يَا مُبَشِّرَةَ أُورُشَلِيمَ. ٱرْفَعِيلاَ تَخَافِي. قُولِي لِمُدُنِ يَهُوذَا: «هُوَذَا إِلهُكِ.هُوَذَا ٱلسَّيِّدُ ٱلرَّبُّ بِقُوَّةٍ يَأْتِي وَذِرَاعُهُ تَحْكُمُ لَهُ. هُوَذَاأُجْرَتُهُ مَعَهُ وَعُمْلَتُهُ قُدَّامَهُ.كَرَاعٍ يَرْعَى قَطِيعَهُ. بِذِرَاعِهِ يَجْمَعُ ٱلْحُمْلاَنَ، وَفِي حِضْنِهِ يَحْمِلُهَا،وَيَقُودُ ٱلْمُرْضِعَاتِ».

Be contagious!

Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

Isaiah’s 37th chapter puts on display the subtle interplay that is prayer in the moment of crisis.

The threatening king of Assyria may be a cartoonish villain. Nevertheless his shadow casts over little Judah the power of extermination. The Assyrian tyrant is, in a word, invincible. The carcasses of nations that once were, lying with their scorched gods by the side of empire’s highway, bear mute testimony that Assyria and its king are unstoppable.

Judah trembles for good reason, for it would seem that its final hour has come.

As soon as King Hezekiah heard (the threat of the Assyrian emissary), he tore his clothes and covered himself with sackcloth and went into the house of the LORD. And he sent Eliakim, who was over the household, and Shebna the secretary, and the senior priests, covered with sackcloth, to the prophet Isaiah the son of Amoz. They said to him, ‘Thus says Hezekiah, “This day is a day of distress, of rebuke, and of disgrace; children have come to the point of birth, and there is no strength to bring them forth. It may be that the LORD your God will hear the words of the Rabshakeh, whom his master the king of Assyria has sent to mock the living God, and will rebuke the words that the LORD your God has heard; therefore lift up your prayer for the remnant that is left.”‘

The vestige of King Hezekiah’s scrawny hope lies in two realties. First, the prophet may know what to do. There are, as they say, no atheists in foxholes. (more…)

Read Full Post »

41DqbK37PdL._SS300_I held this little puppy in my hand after about five pencil sharpenings, and I says to myself, ‘Self, this is simple, effective, strong, and European-modern. I bet it speaks German.’

Turn it over and read: ‘Staedtler/Noris, Germany’

It’s not a Bimmer. But it’s German-made pencil sharpener at two for $3.69.

Look no further.

Read Full Post »

This may not be your one-size-fits-all dog bed. It’s a bit lightweight for that.31PPnBYaIIL._SS300_

But it is as excellent product for the dog on the move. By way of example, we drove our mid-size Whipador ‘Rhea’ from Pennsylvania to Miami on a two-week road trip, then shipped her in a dog crate to our new home in Colombia. Here, she’s got a plush bed on the floor of our bedroom, but still uses this AmazonBasics Padded Pet Bolster Bed as her day-time crash. Plus, we can move it outside to our patio if we’re going to spend an extended time out-of-doors. She follows it wherever it goes and finds it a great mobile couch/bed.

I don’t know when Amazon introduced its AmazonBasics moniker, but it has proven very reliable to us. This product is one example. The price is certainly right, the materials are excellent, and it rolls up and carries in couple of seconds.

Rhea’s black fur eventually means some strong-armed learning, so we wish it came in a darker color. But you won’t go wrong snagging the Bolster Bed for your dog’s part-time lolly-gagging.

Read Full Post »

31kEtZTvobL._SS300_Don’t overthink this. Good pencils, cheap.

You have other things to worry about.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »