Monday, 15 April 2013

Monday - unclean communities

Prayer:  O God,  from whom all holy desires,  all good counsels, and all just works do proceed.  Give to Your servants that peace which the world can not give.  That both our hearts may be set to obey Your commandments, and also that by You we do not fear our enemies.  This we ask in the name of Jesus.  Amen.   #599 Oxford Book of Prayer.

Read  St. Luke 11: 44

“Woe to you because you are like unmarked graves, which men walk over without knowing it.”  (St Luke 11: 44  NIV   Zondervan 1983).     

George Bradford Caird  in his commentary on St Luke states that “Contact with death made a man ceremonially unclean (Numbers 19:16), and graves were frequently whitened to warn all comers of the risk of defilement.  Jesus calls the Pharisees unmarked graves, because their reputation for holiness concealed from men the insidious quality of their influence.”   (Caird,   The Pelican New Testament Commentaries:  Saint Luke.  Pelican, 1981). 

Wow!  Insidious quality of their influence.  Wow!  That seems so harsh doesn’t it.  But the Pharisees were drifting away from their love of God and replacing that love with laws on top of laws which were harming not only themselves but also those in their community.   It had become a situation of Pharisees saying, “I am better than you” and by their attitude and focus on laws,  were creating communities that were becoming unclean. 

The reference to ceremonial uncleanliness in Numbers 19: 14 – 16 is important to read.  Washing with water cleaned the unclean person.   Water is a visual sign of taking dirt off and making one’s hands clean.    Water is used in baptism as a visual sign that the person being baptized is changed from the old self to the new self living in Jesus Christ.  

Today we are told that each time we go to the bathroom or prepare meals,  we must wash our hands with soap and water.   Today as you wash your hands with soap and water,  remember that water is a visual sign of God’s love cleansing you.

Prayer:   Almighty God,  pour upon us the new waters of Your Living Word.  Grant that this same new water  may stir our hearts to the love of Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

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