Happy Labor Day, Chocolate Bookers. As I begin this post, it’s Friday, and I am somewhere between Chicago and Charlotte, in the sky, traveling to spend the holiday weekend with family. Fortunately, though, I am not fleeing to visit my uncle because my brother will be out for my blood as soon as my father dies. No, I am going to visit my brother: and not to make amends for the time I ripped him off by trading him a bowl of soup for his inheritance and then tricked our dad into giving me the blessing meant for the elder son. My family owns no herds: not of goats, not of camels, and decidedly not of drama llamas. Anyway, in today’s chapter, Joseph the Dream Master comes into his own, so let’s check that business out.
I could swear my dad had marked up this chapter more. He’s certainly talked to me about it enough, speculating as to whether the three men whom Abraham encounters are in fact the Trinity, investigating the notion that this may be a pre-incarnate Christophany, pointing out some detail of the original Hebrew that I cannot at this moment recall. But my dad, whose Bible I use, has only written a single marginal note on this whole chapter. It’s three words, which you may be able to see in the photo above: “Hospitality – 1) Inconvenient 2) Costly.”
In John 13, we get into Jesus’ last Passover, and as you might expect, there’s a cloud hanging over it. Last things have a tendency to be sad. (And of course a song comes to mind; here I’m thinking of “The Last Unicorn.”) But in spite of the path before him, Jesus doesn’t focus on his own suffering, present or future. Instead, he begins the Passover by washing his disciples’ feet.
Acts 6 begins with strife between the Greek-speaking Jews and the Jews native to Judea. You may be familiar with the situation, in which those who provided meals for the needy were overlooking the widows among the Greek-speaking Jews. As I read it today, I found that I associated it in my mind with Biblical themes of compassion for the poor and opposition to racism, such as we see in Acts 2:44-45 and Galatians 3:28. But Luke includes the story of the overlooked widows to introduce a larger story: Stephen’s martyrdom.
If you like parables, then good news: by popular request, we’re returning to Matthew 25 for the Parable of the Talents and the Parable of the Sheep and Goats. And by “popular request,” I mean that one person requested it. If you don’t like parables, then I don’t know what to tell you.
I can’t believe we’re already finished with Hebrews. I mean it; despite my familiarity with it, I somehow got it into my head that it had fourteen chapters. But sure enough, here’s the end, from the exhortations to good behavior to the last little bits of theology to the personal notes. It spans two pages in my Bible, and even before I turned the page, I could tell by the tone that the book was wrapping up. There was not going to be another chapter.
Paul spends today’s chapter recapitulating his history and relationship with the church at Thessalonica, from its inception to the present. When Paul and his missionary crew first arrived, there was no Christian movement at Thessalonica, and when they left, there was. Paul cares for the church there like a mom cares for her kids, and he wants to visit them in person as soon as he can. They matter to him.
There was a time in my life when I would have tried to introduce 2 Corinthians with a parody of Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” centered around the line “Back to Corinthians.” But today I have grown in wisdom to the point where I can recognize that idea as very stupid.
Sometimes I give Paul a hard time, but if there’s one thing I can appreciate about him, it’s his predilection for metaphors. And in this, the third chapter of 1st Corinthians, he’s got three of them for us: feeding a baby, doing agriculture, and building a house.
Once upon a time, a psalmist made a bet to see how many different ways he could say “Praise the name of the Lord.” He lost the bet, though, because he gave up halfway through, and that’s how we got Psalm 113. No, not really, but I have to write an introduction somehow.