Saturday, June 24, 2006
10 verses about Dan
Here are 10 significant biblical references to Tel Dan...

Genesis 14:14 When Abram heard that his nephew had been taken captive, he led forth his trained men, born in his house, three hundred eighteen of them, and went in pursuit as far as Dan.

There you have it. I'm going to the same place father Abraham chased down some bad guys.

Deuteronomy 34:1 Then Moses went up from the plains of Moab to Mount Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, which is opposite Jericho, and the LORD showed him the whole land: Gilead as far as Dan.

Moses saw Dan as part of the Promised Land.

Judges 18:29 They named the city Dan, after their ancestor Dan, who was born to Israel; but the name of the city was formerly Laish.

So the city Dan is really named after some guy named Dan.

1 Samuel 3:20 And all Israel from Dan to Beer-sheba knew that Samuel was a trustworthy prophet of the LORD.

The phrase "from Dan to Beersheba" is a pretty common expression in the OT like we might use "from Atlantic to Pacific." Dan is the far north; Beersheba the far south.

1 Kings 12:29-30 [Jeroboam I] set one [golden calf] in Bethel, and the other he put in Dan. And this thing became a sin, for the people went to worship before the one at Bethel and before the other as far as Dan.

If you know your Israelite history, this is a very bad day for the nation of Israel.

1 Kings 15:20 Ben-hadad listened to King Asa, and sent the commanders of his armies against the cities of Israel. He conquered Ijon, Dan, Abel-beth-maacah, and all Chinneroth, with all the land of Naphtali.

The historical record confirms that the city was destroyed in this time period, most likely by the Aramaens.

2 Kings 10:29 But Jehu did not turn aside from the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, which he caused Israel to commit-- the golden calves that were in Bethel and in Dan.

Golden calves... still not a good thing.

Jeremiah 4:15 For a voice declares from Dan and proclaims disaster from Mount Ephraim.

Because Dan is the northern outpost of the kingdom, when the Assyrians come trouncing through in the 8th century, Dan is the frontline for the destruction.

Jeremiah 8:16 The snorting of their horses is heard from Dan; at the sound of the neighing of their stallions the whole land quakes. They come and devour the land and all that fills it, the city and those who live in it.

Again, the Assyrians are coming from the north, so the bad stuff has to come through Dan first.

Amos 8:14 Those who swear by Ashimah of Samaria, and say, "As your god lives, O Dan," and, "As the way of Beer-sheba lives"-- they shall fall, and never rise again.

This is what golden calves get you--judgment from a prophet.

posted by Peter at 11:48 AM
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Wednesday, June 21, 2006
The grandfather clocked is stopped. 5:43, it reads. I was sitting in my parents' living room yesterday afternoon when I noticed this. It seemed so appropriate.

It's the grandfather clock that I remember chiming hour after hour at my grandparents' house. My parents salvaged it when Grandma went to live in an assisted-living place about five years ago. Its one of those mementos of the way things used to be.

Mom called Friday to tell me that Grandma had passed away. She was 89, and the cancer was just too much. I flew into Oklahoma City yesterday, and the service was today. When I tell people that my grandmother has just died, I get this sympathetic response that I don't quite know what to do with. I'm sad, yes, but we weren't close.

What I remember is a barrage of snippet images from the past. She obsessively devoured Jeopardy on TV. She was an avid reader, and for a time, shared with me what she read in the latest Max Lucado. There was a magazine rack in the house in the shape of a stagecoach that was also filled with Smithsonian magazines. She collected knicknacks with lighthouses on them.

She lived two hours from where I lived growing up, and we would visit for a weekend once a month. She was always an early riser, and I remember the image of her already sitting at the kitchen table with her coffee no matter what time I groggily woke up. I'll remember her food. When I told her she made the fluffiest scrambled eggs, she bought me a hand mixer for Christmas. That was the secret, she said.

Her apple pie will never be matched. She would bake one especially for me whenever I visited. Thanksgiving feast was her specialty, and few dinners were made with such care and devotion. She handmade her own stuffing, and prepared creamed onions, a dish I've never seen anywhere else. Thanksgiving just isn't Thanksgiving without Grandma's creamed onions.

In the service today, my uncle spoke of her commitment and devoted service to my grandfather. This is what I learned most from my grandmother. For the final twenty years of his life, my grandfather was bedridden with multiple sclerosis. In all of that time, he never once went to a nursing home because of Grandma's determination to care for him herself as long as she could. She got him out of the house as best as she possibly could, to MS meetings and to eat out, until she cracked her back twice in the process. He died a month after their 50th wedding anniversary. She selflessly gave herself to serve him, a model of devotion and commitment in marriage.

Five years ago, she moved from the house I remember into assisted-living. Her hearing had quickly deteriorated, and it was increasingly difficult to carry a conversation with her, which made her withdraw and seem isolated. The doctors found a softball-sized cancer last February and her health tailspinned. She was put in hospice two weeks ago.

The grandfather clocked is stopped. Things are different now. She is different now.

posted by Peter at 12:29 AM
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Wednesday, June 14, 2006
Cinderella stories
I've been asked to guide the prayer time at The Roca tomorrow evening. This basically means getting things started, wrapping things up and sharing a very brief homily. The theme lately has been 'Prayers from the Bible.' Hannah's prayer from 1 Samuel 2 has been on my mind for the last month or so. Here's what's been percolating in my brain.

Everyone loves a Cinderella story. Few can resist the universal story of the scrappy underdog who rises from obscurity to rise above the seemingly invincible foe. The story of David and Goliath has become the archetype for this story in contemporary culture. However, the story of David and Goliath is not an isolated event in either 1–2 Samuel or the Scriptures as a whole. It is but one example of the great reversal of fortune that lies at the center of the books of Samuel.

The seeds of this story are planted in the song of Hannah. Yahweh celebrates the underdog. A barren womb gives birth to a priest and prophet. A common man searching for his lost donkeys finds himself a king. A baby-of-the-family shepherd is likewise made a king. Yahweh makes the ordinary extraordinary.

Not only this, but Yahweh also humbles the proud and mighty. The family of the priest Eli is brought to a disgraceful end. The mighty king Saul loses his life in battle, as well as his dynasty. One by one, the princes of David—first Amnon, then Absalom—meet untimely demises for their wickedness. Even the great king David, at the apex of his political success, is humbled for a time because of his moral failure.

Yahweh exalts the needy and humbles the proud. In a similar fashion, the author of Luke-Acts begins his narrative with a miraculous birth and song about the Great Reversal. Throughout Luke, the gospel writer displays Jesus as the “Anointed One” who heals lepers, touches outcasts and makes disciples from common fishermen and hated tax collectors. “Indeed, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last,” proclaims the Anointed One.

Yahweh invented the underdog story. It is the story he calls us all into. Though we are broken, insufficient and inadequate in every way, it is Yahweh who makes us more than sufficient and more than adequate. In the midst of all the rollercoaster stories of 1–2 Samuel--all those characters who are down and coming up, and those up coming down--the author gives us the secret for understanding it all: “Yahweh does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but Yahweh looks on the heart.”

What do you see? Do you see garbage? Yahweh sees royalty. Do you look in the mirror and see something common, ordinary, lowly and needy? If so, then, good. Because this is the stuff from which Yahweh makes heroes.

posted by Peter at 12:19 AM
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Sunday, June 11, 2006
Happy birthday
Jackie's birthday was this weekend.

We gathered some friends together and ate us some good burgers at Sawyers downtown, and then we all watched the Legends trounce the Grasshoppers. Then there were fireworks. Good times were had by all.

I must say, however, I cannot recommend the funnel cakes at Applebees Park.

It's not too late to wish her a happy birthday.

posted by Peter at 11:55 PM
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Sunday, June 04, 2006
Happy Holy Spirit Day
I've heard once that Flannery O'Connor was quoted as saying that you can tell a lot about a community from the stories it tells.

Today the people of Yahweh tell the story of Pentecost. Today we tell the story from Acts 2 when the disciples gathered, the Spirit descended like tongues of fire and the Church was born. Did your community celebrate the Church's birthday?

But the story begins a little further back. In fact, there are a couple of Old Testament stories that act as a prologue to this story. The first is an obscure little tale found in Genesis 11, linking the stories of Noah and Abraham. Humankind is united in language. And pride. And ambition. There is power in unity. And power used for selfish purposes gets thwarted by God. Pay attention to verse 6:

And Yahweh said, "Look, they are one people, and they have all one language; and this in only the beginning of what they will do; nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them."

One people. One language. Nothing impossible. And so humankind is broken and scattered. Communication is rendered futile. Lots of talking but nobody understands. Unity is shattered. Relationships are divided.

Now skip over to Acts 2:8-11. One language. What was scattered is reunited. The brokenness of Babel begins working backwards on the day of Pentecost. The unity of Babel is about making a name for yourself. The unity of Pentecost is about boasting God's mighty acts.

So what is impossible for the people of God made one by the Holy Spirit?

The second story that enlightens the birth of the Church is the Festival of Booths, or Tabernacles, found in Leviticus 23 and Deuteronomy 16. But I think I should save that for another day.

In the meantime, Aaron K. put together a photo slideshow for his community and used some of my photos. You can download the .wmv file over at his blog.

Be sure to tell the story.

The Spirit of the Lord has filled the whole world, alleluia, alleluia.

posted by Peter at 11:24 PM
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