Seventh Day of Advent   12 comments

Above:  “He clothes the hills with grass.” (Psalm 147:8, REB)

Awe of God



Isaiah 30:19-26 (Revised English Bible):

People of Zion, dwellers in Jerusalem, you will weep no more.  The LORD will show you favour and answer you when he hears your cry for help.  The Lord may give you bread of adversity and water of affliction, but he who teaches  you will no longer keep himself out of sight, but with your own eyes you will see him.  If you stray from the path, whether to the right or to the left, you will hear a voice from behind you sounding in your ears saying,

This is the way; follow it.

You will treat as things unclean in silver-plated idols; you will loathe them like a foul discharge and call them filth.

The Lord will give rain for the seed you sow in the ground, and as you sow in the ground, and as the produce of your soil he will give you heavy crops.  When that day comes your cattle will graze in broad pastures; the oxen and donkeys that plough the land will be fed with well-seasoned fodder, winnowed with shovel and fork.  On every high mountain and lofty hill streams of water will flow, on the day of massacre when fortresses fall.  The moon will shine as brightly as the sun, and the sun with seven times its wonted brightness, like seven days’ light in one, on the day when the LORD binds up the broken limbs of his people and heals the wounds inflicted on them.

Psalm 147:1-11 (Revised English Bible):

Praise the LORD.

How good it is to sing psalms to our God!

How pleasant and right to praise him!

The LORD rebuilds Jerusalem;

he gathers in the scattered Israelites.

It is he who heals the broken in spirit

and binds up their wounds,

who numbers the stars one by one

and calls each by name.

Mighty is our LORD and great his power;

his wisdom is beyond all telling.

The LORD gives support to the humble

and brings evildoers to the ground.

Sing to the LORD a song of thanksgiving,

sing psalms to the lyre in honour of our God.

He veils the sky in clouds

and provides rain for the earth;

he clothes the hills with grass.

He gives food to the cattle

and to the ravens when they cry.

The LORD does not delight in the strength of a horse

and takes no pleasure in a runner’s fleetness;

his pleasure is in those who fear him,

who wait for his steadfast love.

Matthew 9:35-10:8 (Revised English Bible):

So Jesus went round all the towns and villages teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, curing every kind of illness and infirmity.  The sight of the crowds moved him to pity; they were like sheep without a shepherd, harassed and helpless.  Then he said to his disciples,

The crop is heavy, but the labourers too few; you must ask the owner to send labourers to bring in the harvest.

Then he called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out unclean spirits and to cure every kind of illness and infirmity.

These are the names of the twelve apostles:  first Simon, also called Peter, and his brother, Andrew; James, son of Zebedee, and his brother John; Philip and Bartholomew, Thomas and Matthew the tax-collector, James son of Alphaeus, Thaddeus, Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot, the man who betrayed him.

These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions:

Do not take the road to gentile lands, and do not enter any Samaritan town; but go rather to the lost sheep  of the house of Israel.  And as you proclaim the message:  ‘The kingdom of heaven is upon you.’  Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, drive out demons.  You received without out cost; give without charge.

The Collect:

Almighty God, give us grace to cast away the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light, now in the time of this mortal life in which your Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the living and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.


The word “fear” in relation to God appears often in English translations of the Bible.  This is an unfortunate fact, for the better word is “awe.”  Fear, as most of understand that concept, is not what the Biblical writers meant when writing in the original languages.  I worship God, who, as the author of Psalm 147 wrote poetically, clothes the hills with grass.  My relationship with God is personal.  Often I make short comments to God.  These vary from dark and anguished expressions of frustration to short comments about how lovely a cloud formation is or pleasant a breeze is.  All these statements are honest and rooted in the belief that I can say anything to God.

So I have no difficulty becoming awestruck by God, and therefore extending due respect to the deity.  From this spiritual state flows an understanding of certain obligations.  What ought I to do with this?  I am, as Jesus said, to give without charge, for I have received without cost.  Each of us has received generously from the hand of God; we need to share with others that which we have to contribute.  I think of the model from the Acts of the Apostles:  we Christians should live in community, give as we are able, and receive as we have need, so that nobody will lack anything he or she needs.  And, as the example of St. Laurence of Rome reminds me, the poor are the real treasures of the church.

This is a matter of priorities.


Written on May 31, 2010


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