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  • Writer's pictureRev. Kim Taylor

Pastor's Ponderings: Old Testament bible study on Ezra 9:5-15 (March 7, 2024)

March 7, 2024:  Thursday morning Bible Study of the OT Book of Ezra 9:5-15

Studying Scripture helps each of us to shine more brightly with the Light of our Lord, the Anointed One of God.  In this season of Lent, we all need to be reminded that we too share, through our sin, in bringing about the necessity for God to send His Son to save us.  May Christ know our hearts to be filled with Joy and Faith every day.  Thank you for your prayers yesterday.  I am in the office long enough to get my Bible Study done today, then I will head home to rest before we move bread from Beyond Bread on North Campbell to the food pantry at Grace St. Paul Episcopal Church tonight.  Please continue praying for peace between Israel and the people of the Gaza strip who are being killed by the tens of thousands at the hands of the wrath of the Jews for their Palestinian cousins.  Be certain that you really understand the history of these two peoples before being ready to condemn one side or the other in the conflict.

a stack of books and notebooks with the words Bible Study: exploring scripture together
Bible Study: exploring scripture together

Today we are in chapter 9 of Ezra, verses 5-15.  Today's reading is a bit different.  Here we have a prayer by Ezra himself, speaking to the issues of the inter marriage which has caused the immigrants who have returned to their own country from Persia, to act against the rule of God which warns heavily against the blending of any idol worship and practice which might be mixed with the worship of the One True God.  Over the 100 or so years before Ezra arrives in Jerusalem, the first people to come were faced with the struggles of blended residential and social communities.  It was inevitable that they would begin to assume some of the religious practice of those communities.  Ezra's prayer is an appeal to God to forgive the sin which has been committed through this intermarriage.  We must remember that the actions of a few over this hundred-year period affect the entire community of the faithful who have returned to rebuild Jerusalem and the Temple.  This prayer addresses all the people who have ever been a part of this faith community who have fallen short in their faith since the time of Abraham.  Sometimes, as Christians, we act like we do a better job than either the Jews or the Moslems, that our relationship with God through Christ is so much better than theirs.  Ezra knew better, and so should we.  This is why we talk about being simultaneously saints and sinners.  No community of faith has ever been sin free.  There has been only one, and He is the One True Son of the Living LORD.  It is obvious that Ezra is filled with remorse for all of this, as we should also be.  But Ezra sees a reason for joy and hope in the people's lives.  It is good for us to remember that it was the Canaanites who were so devoid of ethics and morality in their lands that they lost them to the Judahites originally, and here we are now, with Ezra having to admit that his own people, still vassals of Persia, but all the same, blessed by the kings of Persia, are now involved as a whole community with complicity and acceptance of marriage practices which cause idolatry to find its way into this community who is to refrain from such practices that are so offensive to God.  This prayer is an acknowledgement to God that Ezra is all too well aware that this problem exists, but like many prayers that we offer, there is no direct answer, but instead it is the conversation with God that brings a much needed way to unload the burdens of this failure, and to help to see in the conversation some small light of hope that God's inbreaking Grace will help and heal and forgive.  I am willing to say that this must have been an extremely challenging time for Ezra who had come with altar ware, loads of money, and more, and dreams of an easy community of faithful people who would quickly move forward in settling in once again.    That is every new pastor's hope for a new call and that call's community of faithful people, but it is also almost never the reality into which a new pastor arrives.  The call to serve the Gospel in a new setting means that the pastor will be faced with choosing between staying comfortable with the issues that already exist in that new faith community or addressing them with compassion and love so that the new call parish can move forward toward greater spiritual health, and a much stronger relationship with the Christ of God. 

Next week there will be no Thursday Bible Study, I will be taking some time during my boy's Spring Break to be with them.  Two of the boys will be graduating from High School this year.  I will also not have Bible Study for Mark of Monday or Tuesday next week.  I WILL BE AT THE CHURCH ON WEDNESDAY FOR MIDWEEK LENTEN SERVICES.

Thank you for letting me share with you today.

In Christ, Pastor Kim


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