Thoughts for Thurday 11th June 2020

Psalm 116:1-2, 12-19; Genesis 21:1-7; Hebrews 3:1-6

 Thursday 11 June - Rev. Jerry Eve

 We have an uneasy relationship with alcohol in the Church of Scotland, and whenever I see ‘wine’ mentioned in the Bible (as at Psalm 116:13) I’m reminded of this. And I know some may disagree – I quite like an occasional glass of wine myself – but it also makes me quite proud to think of the Temperance Movement, and of how it all began in Britain here in Glasgow, and at Maryhill where, in 1829 the Glasgow and West of Scotland Temperance Society was first founded.

 For, while Scottish Presbyterianism has often been cast as a killjoy, it seems to me that John Dunlop, Lilias Graham and Elizabeth Allan were quite right to be concerned about an area of Glasgow where, at that time, there was a ‘licensed house’ for every 57 of the people who lived there, including children.

 Isaac means ‘he laughs’ in Hebrew, and it may be one of those names that are sometimes assigned to people in the hope that when they grow up they will be like that. Muslims have a prohibition against calling children ‘Wise One’ or ‘Good Humoured’, for example, lest they tempt fate and the child turns out to be the exact opposite – which is maybe quite wise, although I myself do like names like Faith, Hope, Grace, and even Charity. I think the name Isaac, though, probably relates more to Genesis 17:17, and to Abraham’s laughter at the thought he could possibly still father a child at the age of 100 years old, than having to do with Isaac himself, and to his character.

 Turning to Hebrews, something else we can be a bit touchy about as Presbyterians is any and every reference there may be in the Bible to priests and the priesthood. So, if that is a problem for you, can I suggest you steer clear of Hebrews altogether. For the reason that there are in fact over 50 references in the 13 chapters the book comprises. Here at chapter 3 we have just the second of them.

 In these six verses we also have seven uses of the word ‘house’. The first verse is the only one without a house in it. But what on earth is the writer trying to say? I do think there’s probably quite a helpful metaphor in there somewhere, but I’m not sure whoever wrote Hebrews even understands the point they are trying to make. The last reference in which we learn that we are God’s House does though remind us of Michel Quoist’s famous prayer titled ‘The Brick’. So, let’s pray it now:

 

The bricklayer laid a brick on a bed of cement,
Then with a precise stroke of his trowel, spread another layer,
And without a by-your-leave, laid on another brick,
The foundations grew visibly,
The building rose, tall and strong to shelter people,

I thought, Lord, of that brick buried in the darkness at the base of the building.
No-one sees it, but it accomplishes its task and the other bricks need it.
Lord, what difference whether I am on the roof-top or in the foundations of your building.
As long as I stand faithfully in the right place,

 

Amen.

 


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