Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Daily Old Testament: Zechariah 11-12 and My Own Article on "What DId I Say?" (Part 7)

Zechariah 11 – Fire and devastation will bring down the mighty trees of Lebanon and Bashan. There is an allegory here about bad shepherds; it isn’t easy to follow, and I’d by lying if I said I understood it completely. (11:7). The Prophet takes the shepherds’ staffs and names one of them “Favor” and the other “Union.” He breaks the staffs, showing that the Lord has “revoked the covenant . . . made with all the nations” (11:10). The Lord sends the prophet to “play the part of a worthless shepherd” (11:15), to illustrate how the Lord will give them a shepherd “who will not care for those who are dying, nor look after the young, nor heal the injured, nor fee the healthy” (11:15).

“Trouble is coming to the worthless shepherd who deserts his flock! May the sword strike his arm and his eye! May his arm wither and his eye be blinded!” (11:17)

The main point is that there will be bad leadership of God’s people, and it will not be good.

Zechariah 12 – The eternal things man reveres in God – that he created the stunningly beautiful earth, the fathomless heavens and the irresistibly awesome powers of human consciousness. Here the prophet introduces a message from the Lord: “It is Yahweh who speaks, who spread out the heaven and founded the earth and formed the spirit of man within him” (12:1).

Jerusalem will be made an equally appealing treasure in history – “an intoxicating cup” to those who see it. The words St. John read as referring to Jesus are here: “But over the House of David and the citizens of Jerusalem I will pour out a spirit of kindness and prayer. They will look on the one whom they have pierced; they will mourn for him as for an only son, and weep for him as people weep for a first-born child” (12:10-11).

From Leadings: A Catholic’s Journey Through Quakerism -
“What Did I Say?”
Part 7
I felt I had to return in some way to the church that was connected to the apostolic promise. For me, that meant bringing myself back into unity with the Catholic Church, which I saw as the bearer of Christ’s promise and commission to Peter. For the second time in my life I felt the same pull. Everything else in the particulars of my story was different, but again I felt God’s call to be there. I wasn’t drawn back to it because I thought that they were the bank into which all truth was deposited. Sometimes Catholic converts who write their stories seem to see the Catholic Church in this way, but that is not my take on it. We are all broken, and we all share the blame for that brokenness. But the line of continuity still calls. There is no do-over for the church.
On the other hand, I do think the “do-over churches”—the Reformation churches and sects that arose in the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries—articulated and lived out aspects of the gospel that the historic church, both Catholic and Orthodox, have not appreciated or developed as well as it should have. They have invaluable insights into the gospel Christ gave us.

Was this insight that grew in me from God? Was it nonsense? How could I ever know? I felt it very deeply and very powerfully. It squared with what I could understand of God’s revelation in Scripture. It wasn’t the kind of leading I could readily take to Meeting or even to Christian Friends; it seemed inappropriate for me to ask Friends if this vision of Friends’ limitations and errors in theology might be something from God. So I talked to a priest. Things had changed in the years since I had left the Catholic Church. In 1964, when I had first sought membership in the Catholic Church, there had been a sense of rejoicing that I had found my way to the “one true church.” But in 1987 they hardly seemed eager at all to see me return. God worked in other churches too. They seemed basically complacent with the brokenness that so exercised me.
I felt it was imperative for me to go back. It seemed to me also that the Catholic Church understood better than Friends and most other Christian denominations that Christ had not necessarily come to end outward forms and observances of religion, but to extend them in new ways that represented a real continuation of his physical presence among us. The sacramental spirituality of the Church and the outward letter of Scripture both perpetuated Christ’s presence among us in necessary ways. The Scriptures give us the story we are part of and knowledge of who and what Christ is—at least an initial knowledge. The sacramental presence of Christ reminds us of his real presence in our midst in a way that transcends what even Scripture can give. The sacramental does not displace the inward—it introduces us to it, nourishes and guides it. Without it, the inward too easily becomes merely personal and subjective.

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