Paraphrases of the Scripture Lections
for Holy Cross (September 14)
Lections from The Revised Common Lectionary.
Copyright 1992 by the Consultation on Common Texts (CCT)
P. O. Box 340003, Room 381, Nashville, TN 37203-0003, USA. Used with Permission.
* Numbers 21: 4b-9
As they travelled, the people of Israel began losing
the plot and mouthing off against God and Moses. They were whinging, “Why
did you bring us out of Egypt if we are just going to die out here in the
desert? There is no food. There is no water. And we can’t stand this lousy
stuff we’ve got to eat.”
At that, the LORD let loose some dangerous snakes among the people. The snakes had a fiery venom and many people were bitten and died. The people came to Moses and pleaded with him, saying, “We were wrong to mouth off against the LORD and against you. Please ask the LORD to get rid of the poisonous snakes that are plaguing us.”
So Moses prayed for the the people, and the LORD spoke to him, saying, “Make a statue of a poisonous snake, and set it up on a pole where the people can see it. Whenever anyone is bitten, they are to look at the statue of the snake, and they will survive.”
So Moses made a snake out of bronze, and set it up on a pole. Whenever anyone was bitten by one of the snakes with the fiery venom, they would fix their gaze on the bronze snake, and they would live.
©2003 Nathan Nettleton www.laughingbird.net
* Psalm 98: 1-5
We sing like we’ve never sung before, LORD,
........because you have done fantastic things.
With your sleeves rolled up you got stuck in
........and came out on top.
Your victory has made the headlines, LORD,
........now the whole world can see that you were right all along.
You have never defaulted on your rock-solid love,
........or your loyalty to your chosen people.
From one end of the earth to the other,
........everyone has seen your victory.
With all the world, LORD, we raise a noisy celebration,
........singing our lungs out and shouting your praise.
The bands strike up in your honour, LORD,
........filling the air with festive music.
©2000 Nathan Nettleton www.laughingbird.net
* Psalm 78: 1-2, 34-38 (Alternative Psalm)
We are keen to learn of you, LORD;
........your people are eager to hear what you have to say.
We listen to those who pass on the old stories;
........the dark mysteries of ancient wisdom.
When your anger cut down our ancestors, they sought your mercy;
........they pleaded with you and promised to mend their ways.
They remembered that you are as solid as rock;
........that you are the greatest; the one who puts things right.
But they were all words and no action,
........trying to pull the wool over your eyes with sweet talk.
They were fickle and two-faced;
........they did not stick to the terms of their alliance with you.
And yet you remained compassionate;
........you continued to let them off the hook
................and refrained from wiping them out.
........Over and over you swallowed your anger
................and chose not to let your fury have its day.
©2002 Nathan Nettleton www.laughingbird.net
* 1 Corinthians 1: 18-24
........The message about the cross sounds like a lot of mindless cock-and-bull to those who have thrown their lot in with this present world order and are going down with the ship. But to those of us who are being saved from that, it is nothing less than the power of God! God spoke about this in the Scriptures:
“I will expose the brilliant insights of your expertsSo where are the intellectuals now? Where are the religious experts? Where are those who have an answer for everything? What have they got to show for all their cleverness now that God has turned all the conventional wisdom on its head and made it look foolish? Seeing that no amount of human cleverness had ever woken anybody up to God’s ways, God made the wise decision to use something that seemed utterly foolish to everyone — our preaching! — to rescue those who would trust the message. Most people want something more than this. Those with a religious world view demand to see miraculous signs to prove that it is from God. Those with a modern rational world view insist that it should have to prove its intellectual credibility. But what we are preaching is a Messiah who was strung up and killed. The religious people find this unthinkable, and the intellectuals regard it as primitive nonsense; but to those who have heard the call of God, whatever their background, it is the ultimate good news of God’s chosen one — as miraculous and profound as one could ever wish for!
........and the wise counsel of your gurus;
I will expose them for what they really are,
........a load of codswallop!”
....“No one has ever gone up and stood face to face with God. The only one who has done that is the New Human, the one who came from God in the first place. You know the old story from the desert: the one about Moses lifting up the hand-made snake so that the people could look at something that would help them to focus their trust in God. Well, the New Human is going to be lifted up for much the same reason. Everyone who looks up to him in trust and hope will receive life without limit.
....“God’s love for the world is so overwhelming that even giving up his own son was not too great a cost to ensure that no one need succumb to death. All those who put their trust in him can have boundless life instead.
....“God didn’t put his son’s life on the line merely to bring down the hammer and pass sentence on us. Rather, God saw the world in desperate trouble and sent the Son on a cosmic rescue mission.”