Posts Tagged ‘Minor Prophets’

The Jonah Effect is an earlier post reflecting on the minor prophet Jonah, and his story. Not just re-sharing that shows to one that you can come back to sacred stories and more than one reflection can grow out of it, as well depending on the time and moment in your life they can speak differently. Same is said of Jonah, and anomaly in that it is a nouwen quotestory of a snap shot in the life of the prophet. A prophet called by God to go to the enemy Assyria’s capital city of Nineveh, and offer them not destruction but a chance to change direction. The same choice that Israel kept getting through the prophetic voices of the 12.

Jonah’s life becomes the prophetic message of transformation and hope. Of not getting lost in one’s own anger and denial, but in hearing clearly what God is whispering to screaming into our heart. Where Nineveh brings up the communal trauma, anger and hatred that the nation lived (1:2); it was Jonah’s refusal to see beyond his own anger and fear (hearing anything, about our own communal and institutional transformations? Changes? Personal and corporate callings?).

He charted a boat to escape, and as noted in the Jonah Effect, the storm so scared the sailors, they cast him over to which:

[a] And the Lord appointed[b] a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.

Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from the belly of the fish, saying,

“I called out to the Lord, out of my distress,
    and he answered me;
out of the belly of Sheol I cried,
    and you heard my voice.

-Jonah 1:17-2:2 (English Standard Version)

Jonah wasn’t getting the hint. The change afoot. God saved him from Sheol, the warehouse of the souls that have gone before regardless of being righteous or unrighteous, simply a place of darkness. Out of this Jonah says God hears him. Out of the darkness of Jonah’s own soul, out of the hatred, fear, anger and denial in his grief cycle-change cycle of his own life? The life of his nation? Understanding more deeply, the Shema?

This time in the belly of the beast is an allegory used for the death time of Jesus in the tomb in the Christian testament. It is a time of rebirth and resurrection, not simply a retreat. The kernels of new life were laid, for the communal understanding. Not just  one man in a fish. Vomited freshly onto dry land.


And the Lord spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah out upon the dry land.-Jonah 2:10 (ESV)

But even on dry land he was still struggling with his anger, and change. Jonah was outside the city gates with the tree, and a worm was sent to whither it to get Jonah back on track. Continuing to strip away what Jonah understood as blessing in the new world changing before him. Jonah’s anger has so consumed him again when he let it so consume him that, well…

When the sun rose, God appointed a scorching east wind, and the sun beat down on the head of Jonah so that he was faint. And he asked that he might die and said, “It is better for me to die than to live.” But God said to Jonah, “Do you do well to be angry for the plant?” And he said, “Yes, I do well to be angry, angry enough to die.” 10 And the Lord said, “You pity the plant, for which you did not labor, nor did you make it grow, which came into being in a night and perished in a night. 11 And should not I pity Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also much cattle?”

-Jonah 4:8-11 (ESV)

Think beyond yourself. Think beyond your anger. The bush became a metaphor for what the anger was doing to Jonah’s soul, given time to resurrect, and still he let it consume him. How hard, once released, is it to exorcise the cancer of anger from our souls? The writer, like with good fantasy and science fiction, uses hyperbole, brings elements of the world and creation (political and environmental) into play to create the interior conflict within the lead character, so that by the end, in good rabbi tradition, the transformation is left to the reader to experience with the deep Star Trekkian question, where should our pity lie?

Or to flip it,

Where should our love and hope root and grow?

Are we ready for the journey from fish to heart of the sacred?


The shortest work in the Hebrew Scriptures, Obadiah is a scant 21 verses of reality checking rant at the people. As probably part of the remanent left behind in Jerusalem between 587-76 BCE, and a symbolic name that means “servant of the Lord”…Obadiah laid it out for the people:

The vision of Obadiah.

Edom Will Be Humbled

Thus says the Lord God concerning Edom:
We have heard a report from the Lord,
    and a messenger has been sent among the nations:
“Rise up! Let us rise against her for battle!”
Behold, I will make you small among the nations;
    you shall be utterly despised.[a]
The pride of your heart has deceived you,
    you who live in the clefts of the rock,[b]
    in your lofty dwelling,
who say in your heart,
    “Who will bring me down to the ground?”
Though you soar aloft like the eagle,
    though your nest is set among the stars,
    from there I will bring you down,
declares the Lord.

If thieves came to you,
    if plunderers came by night—
    how you have been destroyed!—
    would they not steal only enough for themselves?
If grape gatherers came to you,
    would they not leave gleanings?
How Esau has been pillaged,
    his treasures sought out!
All your allies have driven you to your border;
    those at peace with you have deceived you;
they have prevailed against you;
    those who eat your bread[c] have set a trap beneath you—
    you have[d] no understanding.

Will I not on that day, declares the Lord,
    destroy the wise men out of Edom,
    and understanding out of Mount Esau?
And your mighty men shall be dismayed, O Teman,
    so that every man from Mount Esau will be cut off by slaughter.

Edom’s Violence Against Jacob

10 Because of the violence done to your brother Jacob,
    shame shall cover you,
    and you shall be cut off forever.
11 On the day that you stood aloof,
    on the day that strangers carried off his wealth
and foreigners entered his gates
    and cast lots for Jerusalem,
    you were like one of them.
12 But do not gloat over the day of your brother
    in the day of his misfortune;
do not rejoice over the people of Judah
    in the day of their ruin;
do not boast[e]
    in the day of distress.
13 Do not enter the gate of my people
    in the day of their calamity;
do not gloat over his disaster
    in the day of his calamity;
do not loot his wealth
    in the day of his calamity.
14 Do not stand at the crossroads
    to cut off his fugitives;
do not hand over his survivors
    in the day of distress.

The Day of the Lord Is Near

15 For the day of the Lord is near upon all the nations.
As you have done, it shall be done to you;
    your deeds shall return on your own head.
16 For as you have drunk on my holy mountain,
    so all the nations shall drink continually;
they shall drink and swallow,
    and shall be as though they had never been.
17 But in Mount Zion there shall be those who escape,
    and it shall be holy,
and the house of Jacob shall possess their own possessions.
18 The house of Jacob shall be a fire,
    and the house of Joseph a flame,
    and the house of Esau stubble;
they shall burn them and consume them,
    and there shall be no survivor for the house of Esau,
for the Lord has spoken.

The Kingdom of the Lord

19 Those of the Negeb shall possess Mount Esau,
    and those of the Shephelah shall possess the land of the Philistines;
they shall possess the land of Ephraim and the land of Samaria,
    and Benjamin shall possess Gilead.
20 The exiles of this host of the people of Israel
    shall possess the land of the Canaanites as far as Zarephath,
and the exiles of Jerusalem who are in Sepharad
    shall possess the cities of the Negeb.
21 Saviors shall go up to Mount Zion
    to rule Mount Esau,
    and the kingdom shall be the Lord‘s.

Yes the whole kit and kaboodle of the book for you to read. What is Edom? It is where Esau went after being screwed out of his birthright by Jacob, who was Jacob? A patriarch of Israel. Why does this matter in the exile? It is showing the long history to the people, it is showing that Edom is reaping what is has sown in unethical practices, and the cancer it has let take root in its nation.

It is a rant…it is showing the people a stark message for where they are now. It is what the Orthodox Church does in theological conversation with other churches, we are going to discuss the problem we have with you, by discussing with this other party, so you move from survival to the point of view as spectator to see what is actually happening. Edom is the stand in for Esau, but both are the stand in’s for Israel and Jacob at this point in history.

It hits home as Wexit (though love how one British commentator misread it as the west was wankit!- if you know British slang and the term wank, you can see where it went). trends post our Federal Election in Canada. It is not heeding the warning that the SoCons that veil themselves in the cross, God and religion wanting back the hey day’s of yesteryear and are stoking Alberta separation do not want the people to hear. Like Premier Jim Prentice in the 2015 election provincially asked Albertans to look in the mirror, to accept accountability for our role. Instead we continue to pass the buck, let our grieving process in the transition of economy and politics stall in anger and denial instead of moving forward into acceptance, and being able to grow and be better.

Image result for 5 stages of griefWe want to hold onto the fairy tale that a landlocked province can up and leave Confederation. We are letting the angry speak for us, and to show that we do not understand simple things:

  1. The Clarity Act
  2. Constitutional Freedom of Movement in Canada
  3. Global Economics and cross country trade
  4. How our own electoral system works.
  5. Though Oil Field jobs are now scarce, there is a huge shortage in tech/IT and skilled trades— hmmm… perhaps there is a solution?

We continue to want to live out of isolationism, no common ground, no common dialogue, no common core values to move forward on. We want to believe wanna be media outlets that think it is okay to stalk at 16 year old girl to her hotel room, and wish harm upon her and her property. We want to believe a Prime Minister and government that bought our province a pipeline is a traitor (really need to understand Canadian Criminal Law and the statutes around treason). We want to believe the same lying wanna be media that if we separated America would take us as the 51st State, when in reality we would became a territory (and look at how they treat Puerto). And how in a privatized health care insurance system would that work for citizens in a province with a ridiculously (some say global leading) levels of Multiple Sclerosis and cancers that we could even be insured for health care, never mind everything you now have is pre-existing and exempt.

On top of that a separatist movement destabilizes economies, means we if voted to leave, would get our level of Canada’s debt, plus our own debt, and not have the stable interest rate we currently enjoy as an economic power in a stable nation, rather we would be negotiating and borrowing as the equivalent of a banana republic.

We are Israel, we have reaped what we sowed. We did not want to look in the mirror. We did not want to face reality, we did not want to admit that education was key, or that the oil boom everyone warned us about not being constant, was not constant. Norway with similar population and tax base, took the Heritage Trust Fund idea of Lougheed and the Royalty rate of Manning, and now have over a trillion in savings, Albertans have 18 billion, and you are not saying we have been mismanaged for 41 years?

We have gotten the lack of Peace, Order and Good Governance our constitution declares for us do to our disengagement, apathy, and placing a value on the investor dollar over the citizen.

So yes, dear Alberta, we, like Israel, have reaped what we sowed, and like the Nation in the Minor Prophets need to look in the mirror and choose to implode or heal and go forward…

As the prophets (although minor) have shown us over the last 11 installments, look in the mirror…what would Love do?

For further thoughts on the state on conservatism and Wexit (wankit?) see these sources:

Why Alberta Separation is the dumbest movement in Canada today (National Post)

Charles Adler on his move to the centre (or where Progressive Conservatism used to be)

Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister (PC Party): “I have no time for that” -also note what he compares Canada to– sound familiar?

Next: Party 12– the belly of a whale….

Ah Amos a prophet that shows being neighbourly and taking concern and love of neighbour seriously is timeless. His oracles first surfaced during the 750 BCE’s with the threat of the Arameans conquering, but they were taken together 587-539 BCE under Babylonia exile. But where he could have passed the buck to external sources for Israel’s plight, or play the blame game on God… Amos takes it local, local to the heart of the sacred of each person.

Amos, is a good reminder for Canadians-especially Albertans, about what it means to be be human. What happens when you forget that? Well, Babylon was not exactly a happy go lucky place-being slaves, property, and a temple worship where to make sacrifice and confession you had to have sex, or sex performed on you by what or whom was available in the temple of the Babylonian exiles (hence the post-exile Leviticus laws against forcing someone into sexual practices against who they were created to be. Not Anti-LGBTTQ2+ as extremist and conservatives of the faith want you to believe, but pointing out these temple practices dehumanized and took the beautiful gift of sexuality (spectrum) and love of another and destroyed it…commodified it…)…see where this is going?

Amos, hit the heart of what opened up the nation to the susceptibility. That is the shattering that broke the Book of the Covenant (edited into Exodus 21-23; Deuteronomy 4:44-30:20) which laid out the basic principles of loving neighbour, self and God, that is a social justice compact for society.

Thus says the Lord:

“For three transgressions of Israel,
    and for four, I will not revoke the punishment,
because they sell the righteous for silver,
    and the needy for a pair of sandals—
those who trample the head of the poor into the dust of the earth
    and turn aside the way of the afflicted;
a man and his father go in to the same girl,
    so that my holy name is profaned;
they lay themselves down beside every altar
    on garments taken in pledge,
and in the house of their God they drink
    the wine of those who have been fined.

-Amos 2:6-8 (English Standard Version)

Something ring familiar in the beginning of illustrating the destruction of the social contract? The wealthy buying off the rulers, the poor sold out for a song or thrown under the bus to build the royal cophers. And let’s not get into the corruption in courts, where the wealthy were buying and selling the judges… creating huge debt loads to create a larger slave class, and forcing women slaves into incest, and sexual trafficking. The nation had already destroyed itself when Babylon moved in and conquered. The Shema had been rotted from the inside out.

Let that settle in.

A nation that has a strong social contract, is able to see the other, as neighbour, and worthy of life and thriving is healthy and open to be a shining example to the world.

We have quite a few leaders who calima allegiance to a religion, and state that due to that, this fog issue or that is what makes them “holy”. Yet, these are the same leaders that cut schooling, health care, supports for persons with disabilities, cuts services to seniors, and those in need (and yes dear reader, not making increases in rate with inflation, costs of living, or adjusting for population increase and needs are also cuts…the buzz word to look for here is “spending freeze”).

No, as each of the Minor Prophets (short treatises built upon the work of the Major Prophets). What was the heart of faith in God? Care for other. Say that again for the ones in the back- Love of Neighbour.

Not austerity, not fear, not separation, not hate—

Hope & Love.

9/12 that is where we stand on our exploration of the Minor Prophets. It has been good to reconnect with this portion of scriptures and see how they apply today, I do hope you have been enjoying this. Today, I will give a short reflect and then links to two videos.

Joel uses the allegory and instance of a locust invasion to illustrate the imbalance within the nation of Israel, and their relation to one another and creation, 1:4 (New International Version):

What the locust swarm has left
    the great locusts have eaten;
what the great locusts have left
    the young locusts have eaten;
what the young locusts have left
    other locusts[a] have eaten.

The etymology of the locust shows the stages of chewing, swarming, jumping, and finishing. Anyone who has dealt with any swarms or infestations knows the cycle is important to understand, locusts being destructive of everything in their path. The infestation places nature out of sync, and is a great illustration that Israel is out of sync with creation, neighbour, wholistically, and with God (Joel 1:10, NIV):

The fields are ruined,
    the ground is dried up;
the grain is destroyed,
    the new wine is dried up,
    the olive oil fails.

The ancient Israelites believed that nature felt the negative and positive effects of humanity’s life cycle upon it. Much like science has proven today. Like Israel that Joel is speaking to, many try not to change, fight vehemently against the change, do not want to understand science (that which tells us the how of creation); and do not want to be held accountable or responsible. As we enter into deeper conversations, and needed transitions within our world for energy, and consumption, it should be the church leading the charge, instead we see regressive Christians taking the name of God to play their command and control structure of devastation, destruction, and pollution. We are a province that pedals ethical oil supposedly, yet we have not dealt with abandoned wells, or other environmental issues, we balk and fight, and call traitors those that see the writing on the wall of the changing energy sector and call for diversification, research and transition. We fear change, and as a result respond with anger and hate, in what could and will ultimately be beneficial. For those outside of the power bubble trying to be heard, one can very much be like a Joel.

I encourage those of faith to listen to these talks, one comes from the Pop-Up Theology Series on Science and Faith at Ambrose Seminary here in Calgary, the other is a Lutheran Pastor in Calgary.

John Van Sloten Pop Up Theology: Faith & Science (watch here)

Kevin Powell What is it with Alberta Conservative Christians and the oil & gas industry? (watch here).

Yes way Hosea

Posted: October 20, 2019 by Ty in Spirituality
Tags: , , , , , ,

Hoseas is a longer run minor prophet in the third person point of view. Minor, like a broken record, due to the length of book not meaning. Though it is the first of the section, what is part of the 12 in Hebrew Scriptures that go before the section known as writings, so the reading of the prophetic voice informs the readings of history and wisdom, while in the bible used in the Christianities it is the books that lead into the Christian Testament, so the reader taking into whole context is to see the prophetic voice for societal transformation read into the political statements that are the Gospels.

In Hosea, there is much that can be unpacked in the 14 chapters. Sadly, this story is used by gas lighters and abusers as the Godly rationale for being a partner abuser, see Hosea was called to be in a marriage with a “harlot”, or back in that time, one that was not pure and unblemished “property” before the marriage contract between men. Yet, not only is this not a religious reading of the text, or a “Godly” answer, for within the story it is not abuse heaped upon the spouse, rather, Gomer (Hosea’s wife) is a stand in for the straying nation of Israel (at this time in separation, the Northern Kingdom) and has nothing but love and forgiveness heaped upon them. It creates a critical thinking approach to the marriage covenant, and what it means, especially in a world like the ancient one where the life of the spouse relied upon the husband responding in a loving way. Today, it would be in the adulterous or abusive relationship to cessate, and then decide what the appropriate reparation would be from the aggressing party.

See, Gomer, was used to represent the Northern Kingdom who had entered into an alliance with Assyria (yeah, those blokes that would eventually take them as slaves) and God through Hosea warning them off, kind like a climate activist in Alberta. Gomer & Hosea then had 2 children:

Then the Lord said to Hosea, “Call him Jezreel, because I will soon punish the house of Jehu for the massacre at Jezreel, and I will put an end to the kingdom of Israel. In that day I will break Israel’s bow in the Valley of Jezreel.”

-Hosea 1:4 (new International Version)

First up is what we would understand as war crimes & war of profit-is there another kind?- (Syria, Ukraine, or the Turkey attack on the Kurds currently), or rolling back of human rights (The Alberta Government’s rolling back of LGBTTQ2+ rights). See Jezreel was the city where the great grandfather of the king ran a reign of blood shed to get to power and broker and alliance. No biggie, eh? The ends justify the means am I right?

No, but the sanctimonious Religious Right Zealots and White Supremacists say it is?

See how the prophetic words work read into today’s world? Ecclesiastes was right in that there is nothing new under the sun, just the way we try to pretend their is. The next child Lo Ammi (11:8) means “I am not your God”; basically the wiping of the hands to the religious and kingdom classes going– uh yu nope. You are not doing what you are supposed to do…

Hosea unfolds with the life lived, and the sex lives pattern on Hosea and Gomer played out as an allegory for God and his kids. It is about showing that the going through the motions of sacrifice, saying the righteous words, is all for nought. Like the prophets before him (those we dub the majors) and the 11 works that come after, Hosea is calling Israel back to the core of relationship with God: Mercy, Compassion, and Contriteness of Heart. That which Jesus would build upon to harken back to the daily prayer of Israel with Love.

Before you are taken for a political or religious ride, check the heart of those in leadership. It is not about the words, the slick show, the music, the prayers, the liturgy, the rainbows, or even the palatial residences or great programming…it is far simpler than that.

Has the heart been shaped in such away that the actions show LOVE?

If not, do not commit. If yes, then say I do.

Malachi is another look in the mirror challenge to the people. Let’s be honest though, at the hub all the prophetic books are that way, as it is about justice and what the society is failing to do–to care for one another. That crumbling of the Hear O’ Israel Prayer (The Shema) of love of God, Neighbour and Self. The cessation of one or more pieces of the three and society crumbles. This is the resonating message, what does it mean today though within our increasingly secular society? Can it speak to us still?

And the answer is yes. See, Malachi, shows what happens when we are so far down the rabbit hole of our own self-interest that many in our society are suffering, when a bully culture has become predominant…what happens with the people of Israel? Do they accept the challenge to be better?

“I have loved you,” says the Lord. But you say, “How have you loved us?” 

-Malachi 1:2 (English Standard Version)

Note the counter questioning to the statement. Some will have palpitations and say, it is people wounded of course they cannot see God in their story, but there is something deeper. They are looking for someone to blame for how they are, and the change their society is going through. It reminds me in history of how we got the Comics Code, because a crazed psychologist thought comics were the root of juvenile delinquency; or McCarthy’s trials of faux communist agents, Salem, or modern day Alberta. A province that refuses to diversify our economy, and accept economic change so our government launches a private corporation “war room”; a bunch of old MAGA hat wearing folks stalk Greta Thunberg and counter-protest our current and future leaders in a climate strike, and some incel wanna be blogger working for Rebel Media, stalks the 16 year old girl to her hotel, and then dox’s her. Our Government MLA’s challenge Opposition MLA’s to a fist fight in the midst of a legislative sitting, and harrass them to (illegally) disclose their vote, because in their rabid minds a vote for anyone other than a Conservative in Alberta is treason.

as 1:6 reads:

“A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If then I am a father, where is my honor? And if I am a master, where is my fear? says the Lord of hosts to you, O priests, who despise my name. But you say, ‘How have we despised your name?’

How do these instances tie into Malachi? Simple, the people questioned how God loved them? As care takers for creation (when we were cast out of the Garden), the conversation is just that, on ecology, care and responsibility. Yet, we want to blame everyone else under the sun for our current economic circumstance. We are like the priests blaming God, not looking at our own practice, ethics and morals for the state we are in.

For a starker contrast in the religious and political world, we blame the victim of the rape, instead of the burning down the institutional pieces that need to go. We do not want to admit that it is our inability to love ourselves, or one another. We have sold out ourselves and neighbour for a love of money, and now we are here…and are looking for someone to blame, like an ancient scape goat that would have the sins of the village placed on it and then released into the wild.

But you have turned aside from the way. You have caused many to stumble by your instruction. You have corrupted the covenant of Levi, says the Lord of hosts,

-Malachi 2:8 (ESV)

We are desperately seeking a scape goat in society, as Israel was. We as a society communally no longer have God to blame, so we seek out other things that strip away humanity, and corrupt the societal social covenant. We call it debt, deficits, tax payer rights– it leads to austerity– it leads to infrastructure crumbling, hospital closures, and public schools under funded. It creates conditions for critical thinking and wholeness to fail, so that we are nothing more than commodities to be bought and sold by private enterprise, where the worst of business practices, can become predatory, and we accept it as ethical, where governments make decisions in their donors and corporate share holders best interests, not in the interests of the citizen.

And sadly, this ethic has moved into the church rapidly. It is not about the missio dei, or honouring and embracing the beautiful diversity of the imageo dei… it is about money, and numbers…

What changes if we get back centered. What changes if we answer 3:17 “Where is the God of Justice?” with, right here. That is in us, working through us, to transform our world for the better, to become a healthy soul, that challenges and exorcise those that use God’s name to further corrupt political agendas that dehumanize and harass, that leave those in most need behind.

Politics is the modern allegory for Malachi’s marriage parable. Where it was pointed out that there was a bride of the youth, for us in Canada that is our Just Society, yet then Israel sought out a new bride, like a bad performance of Marilyn Monroe’s The Seven Year Itch or a stereo-typical philanderer’s mid-life crisis trophy bride swap (in those times it was inter-marriage with those outside of Israel–note the above illustration from the Alberta Government).

Now, some may say you’re just a liberal-socialist bashing conservatives and using scripture. Nope, I am calling on all politicians to do better. We used to have a core value set in Canada that all parties discussed openly, and the debates were centered around thoughts to ensure delivery and growth of things like our health care, care for seniors and persons with disabilities, those in need, and education…not the screaming bully matches we currently have seeking scape goats and gotcha moments.

Malachi is God speaking about those in worship engaging and holding their leaders, priests, neighbours and self accountable. That is what we need in our world now. Healthy accountability. Not a world where we have to re-assert simple things such as vaccines save lives, Nazis bad, and science true.

Check your own heart and soul, and ask– what is driving my life currently?


A cynical writer-pastor would call Zechariah the coat tail or bandwagon prophet. Within 2 months of Haggai’s success (and one month overlapping) he is doing his thing. He is speaking to a people on a roll, but even when things are going well, people become disgruntled, we look back to what was with longing regardless of how bad it actually was. This is seen in addictions, domestic violence, populist political movements, was even part of the story of the people of Israel fleeing Exodus these former slaves looked back on Egypt with longing. As Pastor Dave Sarsons, at Vulcan Church of Christ asked one Sunday morning, “what is your Egypt?”

That is what are we looking back for, misremmebering in longing that is holding us back from moving forward.

This is where Zechariah is, with the slow rebuild, as he creates the image of the re-established Temple. Yet Zechariah is like the Paul of the Hebrew Scriptures. The whole 14 chapters is not by his hand. Rather Chapters 1-8 are Zechariah, while the remaining chapters are his disciples and followers keeping up the work. For the more academic, themes from major prophets (because their books are so long) are “borrowed” or built upon, these prophets are Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel.

What has been lost within pop culture with our reboots, and within society, is the concept of Legacy. That is what Zechariah lends itself to. With the second half building on the first, and then the Gospel writers, ala Matthew, building upon that. It is like the Pre-New52 DC Universe Flash Family, or Doctor Who. One used to be able to say Star Trek, then Kelvin happened.

But, off the rabbit trail, the bridging thoughts are this:

Thus says the Lord: I have returned to Zion and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem, and Jerusalem shall be called the faithful city, and the mountain of the Lord of hosts, the holy mountain. Thus says the Lord of hosts: Old men and old women shall again sit in the streets of Jerusalem, each with staff in hand because of great age. And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in its streets.

-Zechariah 8:3-5 (English Standard Version)

It is unique the image that is thrown down to keep the momentum is one of what the people deserve- peace, security, happiness– the things that can trigger a relapse in individuals out of either fear of failure, or more aptly, fear of success or contentment. Is it possible that the momentum was slowing after Haggai, simply because the people had no grounding in what it meant to actually live and thrive, after years and generations of being objects and in survival mode? Zechariah, and his followers had to exorcise a communal trauma from the people and heal a shared complex PTSD.

The disciples of Zechariah, show what happens, what is this they had once been yearning for. The non-romanticized past. Anyone who studies history currently knows a black and white lens for historical reflection and learning is a failed lens. To understand and convert historic knowledge to current wisdom, one must get the full scope story– warts, atrocities and all…this is what the disciples were doing in 11:13:

13 Then the Lord said to me, “Throw it to the potter”—the lordly price at which I was priced by them. So I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them into the house of the Lord, to the potter.

Potter, also translated as treasury.  See the 30 shekels (silver) is the price for a slave. It was also used within the Gospel of Matthew for the sell-out price of Jesus from Judas. An allusion was built upon this concept from Zechariah, when the religious oppressors use it to buy a burial ground for the outcast called potter’s field.

See, what is being said? The disciples are reminding the people that they are blessed, they Belong.

It is time to turn away from “Egypt” or “Babylon” or “Yesteryear” it is time to come HOME.

Zechariah is the continuing encouragement of a people re-settling, and as the onion of trauma is peeled, each past that they wanted back, was challenged and shown to be false. They were, as a people, rebuilt to the holy-sacred beings and community they are:

20 And on that day there shall be inscribed on the bells of the horses, “Holy to the Lord.” And the pots in the house of the Lord shall be as the bowls before the altar. 21 And every pot in Jerusalem and Judah shall be holy to the Lord of hosts, so that all who sacrifice may come and take of them and boil the meat of the sacrifice in them. And there shall no longer be a trader[a] in the house of the Lord of hosts on that day.

-Zechariah 14:20-21 (ESV)

It closes with a strong reminder– everything is sacred, for everything is within God, and God is within everything.

Time to move forward.

Time to belong.

Time to be home.

Haggai was a minor prophet, one of the 12, whose work only lasted 3 months yet had an indelible impact on the people of Israel in his cry for justice. It is a short 2 chapters that packs a punch, but can be summed up rather well within these three verses in chapter 1:

 “Is it a time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, while this house lies in ruins? Now, therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts: Consider your ways. You have sown much, and harvested little. You eat, but you never have enough; you drink, but you never have your fill. You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm. And he who earns wages does so to put them into a bag with holes.

-Haggai 1:4-6 (English Standard Version)

It is the epic look in the mirror moment. The people are back from the exile in Babylon and slacking on the rebuild. Only certain folks are being cared for, not all. Yet all are working hard, but not being heard. It made me reflect on this last little bit in current events around what a newer version of this prophet for the 21st Century would look like. What would be our call to look in the mirror be for us? For Haggai it was calling out the bully-class post exile to get all refocused on what they should be. Change direction, get on track to not be those that were taken to be non-humans in Babylon.

Let’s check out on this and our own bully culture. At the national level, the incumbent Prime Minister, leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, Justin Trudeau at an event in Mississauga had to wear a bullet proof vest and have a security detail with his family taken into protection due to a security risk to his life. This is the outcome of rhetoric around treason, preying on people’s anger and fear as we are in the midst of transition with our economy and are lacking leadership in our province to make the shift, to diversity, and continue to prosper. It is a bully culture where even our leaders make the other person, party, idea an other, a horror, something dehumanized so that this is an outcome…and that those who believe the one entrenched belief do not even blink that now we have to have political leaders wearing bullet proof vests.

Haggai today in Canada…look at the house you are inhabiting?

Greta, is in Alberta, and going to be at the Legislature tomorrow for a climate strike. Our government officials want her to learn about our resource sector, but refuse to meet with her. And a bunch of crotchety old men, are rolling out of Red Deer for a counter-protest. A movement that has been linked to some other less than savory movements. It is funny in the rhetoric of children are our future, our leaders, we do everything we can to suppress, abuse or disavow their voice. In fact we fear it. Much like how Haggai spoke of working hard but harvesting little, we pooched the high times of oil, and now have nothing in its decline, yet instead of getting on track so all can be fed and warm we want to wallow in it.

Yet, the look in the mirror, is strongly reserved for the Calgary Board of Education, and the University of Calgary review of bullying after the suicide of a nine year old student. With the answer after interviewing administrators and teachers, that there is nothing to see here essentially. It is a culture built on toxicity within the administration, where superintendents have directed venom and bullying towards concerned parents, referred to children with disabilities as its. It is an organization, sadly, paying lip service to the Truth and Reconciliation recommendations. It is an organization that for years had the Me to We movement and challenge days in the early 2000’s…yet it has faded from that. To a place where lawnmower and helicopter parents, and educational leaders bully to get their way. Where “parent choice” creates space to out kids in GSA’s. Where segregation rooms are okay, and our boards petition the government to keep this archaic practice alive.

Where when bullying is brought forward, apologetic under the guide of trauma informed practice are brought forward to the bullied. “They are having a bad day” or “it wasn’t fully your fault” or “wasn’t directed your way” or simply ignored. When we had to confront bullying, the only way we got heard was the teacher let slip the student was 12 years old so I pulled out my phone, when asked why, I stated it was now a police matter.

That is a look in the mirror moment for our society that serves families, and our here and now leaders like Greta. It needs to be a historic safe space of discovery and learning to become fully formed citizens. Our Calgary Board of Education with the usual Calgary Ostrich solution (for more on this, read my memoir Soul Ripples) to issues instead of unpacking, and solving them.

Is it going to take a look in the mirror where parents begin phoning police on the students who are age of culpability and the school staff that cover up or gas light to protect the bully?

Is it going to need to be for those who are not age of culpability, to have the police called on the staff for endangering the child?

Will the Calgary Board of Education finally realize that things need to change?

This is the prophetic voice, ancient wisdom, modern times.



Posted: October 16, 2019 by Ty in Spirituality
Tags: , , ,

Enter into the written word. A writing prophet (albeit a minor one) once more. The words that come into the four chapters of Zephaniah were always intended to be read by those that could read, and heard by everyone (as those that could read were expected to read the psalms and oracles aloud). There are many ways to read the prophet, the main though is as one of liberation. As we now the prophets we speakers of justice, and Zephaniah keeps going on what causes destruction in a society.

At that time I will search Jerusalem with lamps,
    and I will punish the men
who are complacent,[a]
    those who say in their hearts,
‘The Lord will not do good,
    nor will he do ill.’

-Zephaniah 1:12 (English Standard Version)

What has brought destruction on once great Israel for this prophet writing at the time of the end of the last “holy king”? Is it the right or the left? Though those entrenchment will eventually tear the nation apart…No, rather it is complacency, apathy, that making choices does not matter because nothing will ever change for the good, and that the only thing that brings well-being is independence and mass accumulation of personal wealth.  Starting to sound familiar? Maybe hitting a bit to close to home around who we have become, and not who we were or who we dream of? The people had lost the ability to dream, to strive for great leadership and vision, they had settled, and in settling had become disengaged.

As such, the majority, those that did not control the wealth, were suffering, as the house burned…the wealthy fiddled if you will.


12 But I will leave in your midst
    a people humble and lowly.
They shall seek refuge in the name of the Lord,
13     those who are left in Israel;
they shall do no injustice
    and speak no lies,
nor shall there be found in their mouth
    a deceitful tongue.
For they shall graze and lie down,
    and none shall make them afraid.”

-Zephaniah 3:12-13 (ESV)

The poor are the chosen. They are the ones that will make society what it is meant to be. The remnant. Those that are interdependent, and can cast vision, and seek true leadership.

Shake off the apathy.

Shake off the complacency.

Shake off the love of money.

Embrace neighbour.

Embrace self.

Embrace… Love.

The false will be destroyed, and the Kingdom will arise anew.

I could spend some time writing about the Joker movie I just saw, and the social commentary around stratification, promises, mental health, illness, and the entrenchment of hate to the point one can be dehumanized and become the other—note how this movie may tie into our reading of the Minor Prophets (the Twelve) in the Hebrew Scriptures. Which brings us to Habakkuk and the prophet that spoke out against betrayals of covenant and contracts.

Minor prophets as we know, with a wink and a nod, are simply short of word count, nothing more…yet they can be read timelessly as any good holy scripture can, they are not soothsayers or fortune tellers, rather they point out the injustice of the system. Habakkuk can be speaking anywhere from 687-536 BCE (don’t you love archaeological text dating?).  He zeroes in though on Babylons betrayal of Judea.

Say what? A political power breaking a contractual agreement or accord even? Surely this has not standing with our world today. Hmmm… if only one could think of examples in America, Alberta or Canada when a new governing party comes into play and rips up the previous governments agreements with employees, other governments for “reasons” (read: political partisanship and gamesmanship). It creates a volatile world, and community. As the Tedurah would would phrase it, a bad gal bladder, for humanity. It creates uncertainty and that the office is not what holds the power to speak for a collective, but only the whim of that political party until the next one takes over. If this is true why would anyone bargain or enter into talks wholly and impartially for the good of all, for the duration?

Once more the woes in Chapter 2 strike to the heart of what the cause is:

“Woe to him who builds his house by unjust gain,
    setting his nest on high
    to escape the clutches of ruin!
10 You have plotted the ruin of many peoples,
    shaming your own house and forfeiting your life.

-Habakkuk 2:9-10 (New International Version)

Woes, that moment of scolding plus, where it is laid out that what is happening is allowing a cancer to grow. It happens to sprout out of self-centredness and a drive for profit over people. Within the Prophet’s words in chapter 2 in fact, there is five woes brought forward in a snazzy tune as you note the excerpt from above…crimes of the oppressors, that is the agreement breaker– Babylon (that whole thing about not bearing false witness, or do not lie, or as Jesus said, let your yes be yes and your no be no).

The woes include plundering, extortion, bloodshed, degradation of nations and people and idolatry.

Take those five woes into the political climate of where you exist. What needs to be spoken up and out against? What is working to disrupt? This is the work of Habakkuk.

For as we move into the psalm of the third chapter the woes have been laid out, the ground work St. Paul would use for showing grace has been picked up, and now the psalm of hope rings out for those waiting and doing justice. Hope that it will bear fruit, for ya see, it may grow slower than evil, than discouragement or apathy, but when hope takes root, slowly but surely…

it grows.

Cultivate hope. Let the light shine in.