Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Scripture: The Seamless Fabric Embedded With The Gospel

Fr. Dale Matson

As I was preparing my outline for MP/HE tomorrow, I was reminded what a wonderful treasure the lectionary is for the church. It provides a balanced diet of Old and New Testament readings but more than that, it keeps our roots deeply planted in the Old Testament. More and more I am seeing my spiritual roots in the Old Testament. The verse that serves as a hinge between Old and New Testament immediately precedes the Gospel Lesson.

For the scripture saith, whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

This is the Gospel message for Jew and Gentile alike.
How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. But I say, Have they not heard? Yes verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world. But I say, Did not Israel know? First Moses saith, I will provoke you to jealousy by them that are no people, and by a foolish nation I will anger you. But Esaias is very bold, and saith, I was found of them that sought me not; I was made manifest unto them that asked not after me. But to Israel he saith, All day long I have stretched forth my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people.
(Romans 10:11-21)

I am amazed to say that I thought I once knew and understood the Epistle Lesson and am only now beginning to understand it in the context St. Paul intended. Paul is showing that the tapestry of the Old Testament contained the Good News. He and Christ both said that there is no difference between Jew and Greek. God’s message of salvation was always intended for both. He was demonstrating that the Gospel had already been preached to the Jews. In this passage he quotes Old Testament Scripture no less than seven times. In these passages. He is not putting a new patch on old cloth. He is uncovering for us, the Gospel message imbedded in the Old Testament rejected by the Jewish people. He is using the Old Testament statements that demonstrate how the mystery of the Gospel of Jesus Christ was preexistent. It reminds me of an X-Ray of a Van Gogh’s Painting “Patch of Grass” that shows a portrait of a woman revealed underneath. While invisible to the naked eye, she contributes to and is a part of what we do see.

Even though there is only a remnant of the Jews, Paul understands that the Jews and Gentile Christians were a royal priesthood charged with being a blessing to others. They and we are charged with bringing glad tidings of great joy and bringing the good news of God’s salvation for all people to all people that would believe and accept it.

Finally, Handel also wove Old and New Testament beautifully together with his Air for Soprano #45 “I know my redeemer lives”. It is a wonderful combination of verses. “I know that my Redeemer lives, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth. And though worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall see God. (Job 19:25-26) For now is Christ risen from the dead, the first fruits of them that sleep. (I Corinthians 15:20). Amen

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