The Christian tradition believes in a monotheistic personal God who has had a unique presence in Jesus Christ. We truly care to live with the mysterious life of God who has an impact on our lives. The God of Israel was Yahweh, whom the Christians consider God the Father. There is also the presence of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Yahweh, that is present in our lives. Jesus is the Son of God, the Father.
Some worship the almighty dollar that they can see. Others worship the unknown, the unseen. No religion is purely transcendent centered, but also involves to some extent the here and now, immanence. Our happiness comes in becoming part of others, caring for one’s neighbor with an ego-transcending embrace of others. If we say that God is love, love is many splendid things. The difficulty is always the ideal versus the reality of what we experience. We are striving for perfection, not necessarily reaching it. Thus, we worship this transcendent God in our lives.
Some stories are foundational. The American founding fathers had their stories. The Irish often speak of the “Faith of our Fathers”. These stories give us a vision of reality. There is a master narrative around which we organize and give meaning to our lives. In the same way, we live the Christian story about Jesus. Each one of us has a foundation story that gives us an identity in our community. Each business has a foundation story that is part mythic, yet operative. The American Manifest Destiny shows how the story justified the expansion. We are a land of opportunity, based on many stories, maybe within your own family. Everyone can live out their dreams. Creation stories show how we belong to the world and what our purpose for being here is. Isolated reading is not right either. This is not a naive reading, since the stories are inspired blended accounts.
A psalm of David
O my soul!
All that is within me,
Bless his holy name!
O my soul!
Do not forget all his benefits!
Who forgives all your iniquity?
Who heals all your diseases?
Who redeems your life from the Pit?
Who crowns you with steadfast love?
Who crowns you with mercy?
Who satisfies you with good
As long as you live?
Thus your youth is renewed like the eagles.”
Psalm 103 is simply a thanksgiving psalm of David. In the opening verses, he repeats the same phrases. Yahweh is to be blessed from his soul. Then David pointed out all the benefits of Yahweh with a series of questions. Yahweh forgives iniquities. He heals all diseases. He saves people from the pit or the grave. He crowns us with steadfast love, mercy, and goodness. He sustains our lives so that we remain young eagles.
“When Seron approached the ascent of Beth-horon, Judas went out to meet him with a small company. But when they saw the army coming to meet them, they said to Judas.
‘How can we?
Few as we are,
How can we fight against so great and so strong a multitude?
We are faint,
We have eaten nothing today.’
‘It is easy for many to be hemmed in by a few,
In the sight of heaven,
There is no difference between saving by many or by few.
It is not on the size of the army that victory in battle depends,
But strength comes from heaven.
They come against us in great insolence and lawlessness.
They want to destroy us, our wives, and our children.
They want to despoil us.
However, we fight for our lives and our laws.
He himself will crush them before us.
As for you,
Do not be afraid of them.’”
This is like a pep talk before the battle. Beth-horon was in the northwest corner of the Benjamin territory that might have close to the town of Modein since it was about 12 miles northwest of Jerusalem. Judas’ men said that they were too few to fight a battle against so many Syrian troops. They said that they were hungry and faint. Judas Maccabeus responded that there was no difference between a big army and a small army because strength comes from heaven. They were insolent and lawless. They wanted to destroy us, our wives, and our children. They wanted to get rid of us. However, we fight for our lives and our laws. They should not be afraid because the God of heaven in on their side.