Samuel and Eli

Samuel 3:1-18 | Luke 2:25-33 The life of Samuel spans a period of transition for the people of Israel. At the time of his birth Israel was established as a nation, through the military conquests of Joshua, united by the worship of one God, but still twelve tribes, each with their own boundaries, their own patriarchal leaders. They have been led by a series of judges – popular, charismatic leaders, taking on the role of civic and military leadership as and when need arose. Samuel emerges in this divine anarchy as the last of the judges, and first of the great prophets who will shape the nation’s future. By the end of his life he will have anointed that first king, Saul; seen his brief success and tragic failure, madness and death; and then anointed king David, and seen him, too, mix greatness with great failings. But in our reading today, he’s just a boy, living and working with the priest, Eli, tending the tent that served as the Temple of God. And it’s that relationship, Eli and Samuel, that I want to explore today. For though Samuel was not Eli’s blood, he had grown up knowing only Eli as a parent. And perhaps, for Eli, Samuel represented another chance. For Eli was an older man, with grown sons of his own, disreputable men, who abused their positions as sons of the priest. Read More

Harbour Circle Walk: Balmain East to Circular Quay, Saturday 18th August, 2012

The Cartophiles are back after the Antiques Fair hiatus! Our August day walk completes our celebration of Sydney Harbour with the fourth and final section of the Harbour Circle Walk. This 15m walk starts at the Balmain East Ferry Wharf and travels around White Bay and the Glebe Island Container Terminal to the Anzac Bridge, then via Pyrmont and the Pyrmont Bridge to Barangaroo and Observatory Hill to Circular Quay. … Read More... Read More

Sheep without a shepherd

“And Jesus had compassion on them”, writes Mark, “for they were like sheep without a shepherd”
In our reading from Second Samuel, the time of the story is just this side of the year 1000 BC.
After years of bitter fighting, David has finally defeated the supporters of his predecessor Saul, and has gone on to conquer the Philistines.
And you know it is sad to note that 3000 years later, the descendants of David's people have still not been able to make peace with the descendants of the  Philistines, the modern inhabitants of the Gaza Strip.
Well here we have King David sitting in his palace built of valuable cedar suddenly realising that the Covenant Box, the Ark of the Covenant, is just kept in a tent.
To David's mind, this was quite wrong, the sacred Covenant Box obviously should be in a temple.
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If you’ve been following the E100 readings you’ve probably noticed that we jumped over a rather large block of the early books of the Old Testament, going straight from Exodus to Joshua, leaving out three big fat books full of names, genealogies, and, above all, law. And if you have ever read through large blocks of the Old Testament law, you probably find yourself thinking “thank goodness for that”. Page after page of detailed instructions on sacrifices, offerings, clean and unclean animals, rituals of purification, laws for lending and borrowing, rules for the sale of land, and so on and so on. And while there are many fascinating insights to be had from reading through those pages, it’s one of those pieces of research that I for one am glad other people seem to enjoy, and share their insight with me. Which is one of the reasons that I love the book of Ruth, that we get to read instead. For the book of Ruth is the law of Moses, told as a story. In a narrative full of examples of people behaving badly, the book of Ruth stands as an example of the way things were meant to be. Read More

Two Commissions

Joshua 1:1-9 | Matthew 28:16-20 This is the tale of two commissionings. This week our E100 readings bring us to the story of Joshua. The people have fled from Egypt, and have wandered in the desert for forty years. The old guard, those who remembered slavery, have died. And, with the death of Moses, the mantle of leadership passes to the next generation, to his right hand man, Joshua. In the opening words of the book of Joshua, we read of his commissioning by God. In our New Testament reading, we also witness the handing on the mantle of responsibility. Jesus, following his death and resurrection, is about to return God the Father, and he calls his disciples together to commission them to continue his work. It is the faith of the Church that we are each, by virtue of our calling, commissioned by God into the ministry of Jesus Christ. In the words baptism, that we heard today, we say
Thus, claimed by God we are given the gift of the Holy Spirit that we may live as witnesses to Jesus Christ, share his ministry in the world.
Each one of us here has been called and claimed by God, each one of us has been commissioned as witnesses to Jesus Christ, each one of us has been sent to his ministry. So it’s worth spending a few minutes to look at these two examples of commissioning, thousands of years apart, and ask what we see in them. For the commissioning of Joshua, and of the disciples, have a lot in common. Read More