Friday, July 15, 2011
Abigail was a model of courage and hospitality. When we first meet her, she is trapped in an abusive marriage with an irrational alcoholic husband who so thoroughly insults the rebel leader (the future king David) that David vows to assemble an attack of his troops. Abigail, ignoring the patriarchal structure of the day, assumes leadership of her family and orders her servants to load down their donkeys with supplies and deliver the food to David's army. She not only complies with the law of desert hospitality, but also rides to meet David herself with an official apology. Her eloquent words about David's present and future worth can only be defined as prophesy. Later, with her husband out of the way by means of a heart attack, Abigail becomes one of David's wives. (Image from PowerPoint Presentation, "The Story of Abigail.")
Sunday, May 23, 2010
In the Middle ages, each of the Seven Deadly Sins had an animal designated as being symbolic of that particular poor choice. Different storytelling traditions designated a variety of creatures to each particular sin. The dog was a common symbol of envy, owing to its tendency to want whatever another dog might possess at the time. In our story, a dog steps out of the canine-envy world and is jealous of a butterfly for its apparent freedom compared to the dog's life within a fenced-in backyard. (Image from the book, "The Seven Very Bad Choices; A New Look at the Seven Deadly Sins")
Friday, May 14, 2010
The Green Man has been a symbol in many religions of the unity of humankind with all of creation. The image can be seen carved in various places of some of the great cathedrals of Europe. In early church architecture, sculptures of a human face with sprouting leaves symbolized new life and continued growth through Christ. It is also a symbol today of our relationship with nature and our responsibility to preserve and protect all of Creation.
Thursday, May 13, 2010
In the early days of Christianity in Central Europe, the Woodpecker became honored as the symbol of a life spent in constant prayer because of its persistent hammering. As the defeater of the worm, which represented evil, the woodpecker was also a Christ figure.
Sunday, May 2, 2010
We don't know just how old Anna was, but we do know that she had been married at one time for seven years and then lived as a widow for eighty-four years. The story in Luke simply mentions that she was very old and also was a prophet who spent most of her life at the Temple in prayer. When she saw the infant Jesus, she proclaimed him the Redeemer of his people. It is interesting that the Greek Scripture writers didn't identify many people as prophets, but at least five of them were women: Anna and the four daughters of Philip. (Image from Prints of the Prophets)
Saturday, April 24, 2010
This intelligent and friendly animal was an important symbol of redemption in the myths of many cultures that lived by the sea. The dolphin was believed to carry the souls of the dead to their final rest. Early Christians often took the opportunity to illustrate their message with popular stories of their era, so they adopted the dolphin legend as a symbol of Christ’s redemptive work. (Image from the PowerPoint, Symbols of a Faith)
Sunday, April 18, 2010
Ebed-Melech's story is one that is not told often enough. He was a servant in the court of Zedekiah, the last King of Israel who was in the line of King David. The Prophet Jeremiah had been thrown into a cistern to die because the weak king had given in to the advice of his council, men who hated and feared Jeremiah for telling the king that Israel's only hope for survival was to surrender to their invading enemies, the vastly superior Chaldeans. Ebed-Melech, an Ethiopian and also a eunuch, had compassion for the prophet of peace and requested to be allowed to rescue Jeremiah from the muddy well. The king must have respected Ebed-Melech, since he sent 30 men along to help with the rescue and to protect the noble Ethiopian in his dangerous mission. He lowered a rope into the cistern along with some old rags for the aging prophet to use as padding between his armpits and the rope. Jeremiah told Ebed-Melech that his life would be spared for this selfless act after the inevitable invasion of Israel's powerful enemies. This man who was marginalized both because of his ethnic origin and gender issues, was and is one of the most admirable of Hebrew Scripture heroes. (Image from Prints of the Prophets)