Thoughts for Saturday 20th June, 2020

 

Psalm 86:1-10; Ezekiel 29:3-7; Luke 11:53-12:3

Saturday 20 June - Rev. Jerry Eve

Over a hundred years ago before the First World War, the British Empire comprised about a quarter of the world’s land mass and about the same proportion of its population at that time. It was known as the Empire upon which the sun never sets. But, as we know, empires do rise and fall. And it was the same in Biblical times.

One spectacularly successful superpower, though, which lasted for about three millennia right up until the days of Queen Cleopatra, was Egypt. Judah, by comparison, was a minnow. And I use that analogy in order to contrast it with the one that Ezekiel uses in our Old Testament passage for today. For he calls the king of Egypt a crocodile; not just here in chapter 29, but if you read on then you’ll come to the beginning of chapter 32 where we have, ‘to the king of Egypt . . . you act like a lion among the nations, but you are more like a crocodile . . . you muddy the water with your feet and pollute the rivers.’

Ezekiel is mad in the sense of angry. In Ezekiel 29:1 we learn that it’s the tenth year of the Babylonian Exile, and then in Ezekiel 29:17 that we are now in its 27th year. And Ezekiel is still mad. And what he’s mad about is Egypt. And the reason is that at the end of the 7th century BC and the beginning of the 6th, Judah and its capital Jerusalem found itself caught in the middle of a power struggle between Babylon and Egypt. Ezekiel thought Egypt ought to have been able to protect Jerusalem and prevent its destruction at the hands of the Babylonians, but either it didn’t, or maybe it couldn’t.

Ezekiel’s anger does seem – if you read these few chapters – to be eating him up. Later on, however, he does thankfully seem to come to some sort of terms with what has happened; when with a much more positive attitude in chapter 37, for example, he then gives us not just his famous vision of ‘The Valley of Dry Bones’ but also the lesser known image of a restoration that will re-unite the two kingdoms of Judah and Israel, north and south, as one (see Ezekiel 37:15-19). For this he very cleverly, I think, uses two sticks.

If we think, though, that’s an end to Biblical ‘anger’ for today, then we’ve another think coming because just a couple of chapters after our passage from Luke, Jesus then goes and calls King Herod not a crocodile, but a fox (Luke 13:32)!

Let us pray (this weekend marks this year’s Summer Solstice):

Holy is this fire of midsummer's eve, and holy are you, O God.
From your burning heart you drew forth a fiery ball
and flung it into space.
Your laughter shook the empty cosmos and echoed again and again
until the darkness of space resounded with your love and with fire.
You reached in again and drew forth fire and seeded it like yeast
in each atom, plant and animal, each bird, fish, man, and woman.
And you gave us a special star, our sun, aflame with a life-evoking energy
to make our planet green and fertile,
sun-soaked in your love.

As we celebrate this solstice feast,
open our eyes to the countless wonders
and to the sparks of fire-life that you have planted in each of us.
May this holy and magical night
be aglow with star-fire and God-light
as we once again begin the sacred season of summer, Amen.

 

(Edward Hays)

 


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