Late start today. And, no, it isn't from sitting up watching the "super bowl" or the aftermath of same. I watched not one second of it, nor of any NFL games. Nor will I watch a second of the NBA, and watched a year's total of perhaps 4 minutes on college football, and perhaps only half an hour or so on baseball. So all of the "politically correct" advertising garbage, all the equally-loathsome blather around the Event, and all of the rest of it, were a waste of money and effort so far as I am concerned. Indeed, given what I've learned of the themes of many of the ads, etc., some corporate entities have earned my contempt and have lost my business forever. Some, of course, like the beer companies, didn't have my business anyway. Their money, their choice ==> MY money, MY choice.
It's time to move past the "bread (or beer) and circuses" point in the nation. We have more important things to do, and we are called to more than mindless diversions.
I own the complete set of Gibbons' Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. It's on -- one -- of the bookshelves right now, I can see the place from the desk here. Interesting in many ways, but I can't shake the feeling that we're seeing a repeat. Just as I see when in portions of the Bible, the loss of the moral underpinnings in ancient Israel led inexorably to collapse, misery, death, destruction, and more. Yes, it can happen again. Seeing what I'm seeing in Berkeley, Washington (state and district), New York City, Chicago, Austin, Los Angeles, Dearborn, Baltimore, large sections of Florida, Flint, Detroit, and more, I think it may happen soon. I don't expect to survive it. Many of us won't. The sorrow is for those who will, including those who are causing all this. Won't be pretty, that much is certain. When one decides to worship Self, or Lust, or even Satan (see Anton LaVey's bunch), the results won't be pretty. Indeed, they can't be. The attitude of "better to reign in Hell than to serve in Heaven", from Paradise Lost is neither new nor rare. Unfortunately.
Yet the Lord is still at work. I am reminded that the arrival (the first time) of Jesus was at a time of loss and bondage. First the Macedonians had conquered the whole region. And then the Romans. Before that, the Persisans, Medes, Babylonians, Egyptians, and others. Pain and loss and sorrow, but the Lord had not abandoned His people. No matter that they could only look back at past glories, and weep when the saw how far they had fallen, a useful lesson for today. The Lord still had a plan.
I have personally known loss and pain, sorrow and misery. But He has also brought joy and affirmation and, moreover, forgiveness and love. I am told that Despair is a sin. Perhaps that is so: the belief that one is somewhere that even the Lord can not help, limits Him. Review Psalm 139. Even, "if I make my bed in Hell, thou art there!". Better to not be there in the first place, of course. One of those lessons we only realize AFTER we're in the mess.
Todays' reading from the Old Testament, chapters 39 and 40 from the Exodus, concludes the book of the Exodus. Yes, it took place a long time ago. But it shapes our world today, in ways we often overlook. And it is a constant theme, the Lord bringing His people out of bondage and hopelessness, into something new. He still does that. And, no, we often don't understand, often don't see His hand, often fail or refuse to give thanks, and often want to turn aside, back to what got us in trouble in the first place. (I have friends who are, day by day and hour by hour, fighting addictions. Sometimes chemical and alcohol dependencies, sometimes destructive habits like gambling, sexual addictions, or others. Those who give thanks, daily, and who look FORWARD to the new life, do better than those who still sometimes look wistfully back at the thrills and "comfortable" lives that nearly killed them. Gratitude). Yet the Lord, knowing this, brought them out, and was making them into something new. It began with worship. As it should with us. And it continued with obedience, as it should with us.
The New Testament passage is verses 1-22 in the 24th chapter of the Gospel of Matthew.
What Jesus said here would surely have enraged the leaders even more than they already were. Of course, I note that this passage is rarely properly taught even today. Parts of it certainly are not mentioned. Others, not so much. Wonder why ........