Month 12:8, Week 1:7 (Shibi'i/Sukkot), Year:Day 5940:333 AM|
2Exodus 3/40, Yovel - Year 50/50
Gregorian Calendar: Monday 6 March 2017
The Charm of the Golden Rod
Shabbat shalom kol beit Yisra'el and Mishpachah Lev-Tsiyon as we assemble on this the 333rd day of the biblical year. I hope that you have had a blessed and productive week.
As the first order of business today may I ask all of you to join with me in congratulating our Brother Gabriel on the occasion of his marriage to Sister Janine two days ago in Kigali, Rwanda. May the couple be truly blessed and successful in becoming that reflection of the divine allegorial union in which we all seek our completion in Messiah.
This is not so much a sermon today as a personal announcement, so I hope you will bear with me. As most of you know I have been in declining health now for some years and have been in a sharp nose-dive this last winter with other medical complications now being added to my chronic fibromyalgia and fatigue that have slowed me down even more. Some days I am in such a haze from exhaustion that I can't even think or communicate coherently. Since my condition precludes me from lying or even sitting down sometimes, I tend to seek solitude in the forest. The medical establishment don't know what to do for me and various natural remedies have so far not worked, so I am really in the hands of Yahweh for this one.
Three Seasons Ahead
So I am truly looking forward to spring. My body is at furious enmity with winters now - this last one, as I said, has been particularly bad. Perhaps the next one - if there is one - I'll spend in some tropical clime, who can say! Three seasons lie ahead once the Yovel (Jubilee) is at an end in four weeks' time and I just pray they aren't spoiled. I want to enjoy them to the full.
An End to Writing and Preaching
So, to all intents and purposes, I have come to an end of writing and of preaching...and the 333rd day of the year seemed to me to be as good a time as any other to let silence give place to ceasless flurries of words. Better still, since the end of the Jubilee is almost at hand, we must in any case return to where we began our journey.
How It All Started
Fifty years ago I was a 12 year-old incarcerated, very much against my will, in an English boarding school. It was there, at the complaint of my very insistent mother, that I learned my letters home to Malaysia were too short and bereft of information to aleviate her fears. After several such complaints, and, I admit, because I was annoyed at receiving questionnaires like exam papers (what child likes exams), I took the bull by the horns and one Sunday afternoon, and every week thereafter, started composing 20-30 page-long missives when we were marched to our classroom for an hour after morning chapel and forced to write home when we would have preferred to have have been doing our own thing with the little free time we were given in that régimen. I got through so many bottles of ink and pads of Air Mail writing paper.
A Habit Which Led to Other Things
I suppose that is how I started becoming a writer and began my first book when I was 17 (an Historical Atlas)...because of a nagging mother. My encyclopaedic letters presumably made her happy as I got no more multiple choice forms to fill out. The habit prepared me for university and eventually for ministry too where I can truthfully say I have enjoyed using my gift for the sake of the Kingdom. Initially motivated by a desire to leave a legacy of knowledge for my children, and subsequently for such believers as might also benefit from them, I organised all my writings, and those of other brethren sharing the same ministerial platform, as a website which is also available on DVD.
A Mental Illness?
This has not made everyone happy, mind you, proving the old addage that you can't please everyone. One atheist, obsessed with ruining me and the ministry for converting her boyfriend to the Besorah (Gospel), went to far as to accuse me of having some sort of 'compulsive writing' mental illness though I have yet to find the condition listed in DSM-5. Maybe they'll invent it one day, along with most of the other imaginary illness that give psychiatrists an undeserved salary.
Others have complained too, for other reasons. People will always find reasons to complain and though you get thick-skinned and used to it, it's never something anyone ever really enjoyed. Though it does seem to be some people's character default, I personally I loathe it. As one minister rightly observed:
"The Greek word translated 'complainer' means literally 'one who is discontented with his lot in life.' It is akin to the word grumbler. Complaining is certainly not a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) and, in fact, is detrimental to the peace, joy, and patience that come from the Spirit. For the Christian, complaining is destructive and debilitating personally and only serves to make our witness to the world more difficult. Who, for instance, would be attracted to a religion whose adherents are dissatisfied with life and who continually grumble and complain?" 
A Polished Crystal Glass
An empty crystal glass may be a wonder to gaze at under a bright light with all the dazzling reflections off its facets, but of what value is a mere vessel? You can carry on cutting and polishing it, but to what end? A rough unglazed clay cup filled with water is a million times better and more useful than cut crystal glass with nothing in it at all. The tap has run dry, the glass is as cut and polished as I care to make it right now, so it is better just to stop.
An Article a Day for Ten Years
I mentally calculated that were someone to read one of my articles or sermons a day that he or she would be kept occupied for ten years. That's far too much. And it's just too bad that many projects and series remain only partly completed. Schubert left us an Unfinished Symphony (his 8th) -- it ends in the middle, and that's...it. It's one of my favourite symphonies, actually. It needed no ending to be enjoyable. Perfectly incomplete. Perhaps that is how Providence had ordained it in the first place.
Come the end of the next cycle of festivals at Sukkot (Tabernacles), which I hope will be more contemplative than expository, I should like to approach any other winter that may be left to me with a stocked wine cellar of chayim (life) rather than occupy myself with filling more shelves with crystal-cut wordsmithery. Godfrey Rust made some good points in his poem, The Dangers of Theology. At any rate, my soul is looking for something else during what I hope will not be a permanent convalescence:
"A haze on the far horizon,
The infinite, tender sky,
The ripe rich tint on the cornfield,
And the wild geese sailing high --
And all over upland and lowland
The charm of the golden-rod --
Some of us call it Autumn,
And others call it God."
I pray that Yahweh has been good to you this last 50 years, or portion thereof if you are a youngling and less than half a century old, and that much that is tov (good) will come your way in Yah'shua (Jesus) hereafter, leading up to His Second Coming:
"May the grace of our Master Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ), the ahavah (love) of Elohim (God), and the fellowship of the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) be with you all" (2 Cor.13:13, NLT).
 What does the Bible say about complaining?