Monday, August 22, 2011

A Hymn for the Church Militant

Great God, that bowest sky and star,

Bow down our towering thoughts to thee,

And grant us in a faltering war

The firm feet of humility.

Lord, we that snatch the swords of flame,

Lord, we that cry about Thy car.

We too are weak with pride and shame,

We too are as our foemen are.

Yea, we are mad as they are mad,

Yea, we are blind as they are blind,

Yea, we are very sick and sad

Who bring good news to all mankind.

The dreadful joy Thy Son has sent

Is heavier than any care;

We find, as Cain his punishment,

Our pardon more than we can bear.

Lord, when we cry Thee far and near

And thunder through all lands unknown

The gospel into every ear,

Lord, let us not forget our own.

Cleanse us from ire of creed or class,

The anger of the idle tings;

Sow in our souls, like living grass,

The laughter of all lowly things.

by GK Chesterton

Saturday, August 13, 2011


The eyes of the Lord rove to and fro over the earth, searching for the people whose heart is turned towards Him.

He sees the souls of His creation. He sees the fire of His Word kindled inside His chosen. He sees the Light of the Holy Spirit and He sees the Darkness of the lack thereof.

The shadows populate the earth, the shadows of the blind and the deaf, the shadows who do not know the Way, or the Truth, or the Light.

The blanket of darkness cloaks the Earth, but here and there sparks of Light are struck. The Light beams forth in the Darkness, and the Darkness cannot overcome it.

The Light bears forth strength in its very heart, for it is the Temple of the Spirit of the Tetragrammaton. It sends out the Truth of the Light that dwells within. Its Temple holds the Body and Blood of that God which gives the Temple Life.

The Dark sees the Brilliance of the Love of Yahweh, indwelling the Light and the Life and the Spirit. The Dark understands it not, but some hearts ask for understanding, and where Darkness was, Light spreads forth, vanquishing the Shadow. New Lights spark and kindle over the shadows of the Earth, and the Eye of the Lord rejoices as the Lights appear and grow stronger in the Consuming Fire of His Love. His Love burns away all Darkness.

O Lord, may we be Lights in the Dark.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

The Staff of Adonai

The lore that speaks of the magician's staff or wand is well-known in our society. We are familiar with the fairy godmother, the White Witch, Professor Dumbledore, Gandalf the Grey, Merlin, and countless others. But where did the legendary Type of the magic staff come from? In the tradition of freemasonry staves were used during rituals of the Craft. Medieval tales of Faërie used them as instrumental tools in their magery. Circe of the Odyssey used a wand to transform Odysseus's men into animals. In Pharaonic Egypt magic wands were placed in tombs along with amulets and other toilette articles for the souls of the dead to use.

Thus we see the magic staff spoken of through history. And yet there is no where that it is spoken of so powerfully as in the Bible.

It was first to be spoken of in regard to one of the Three Patriarchs. By faith Jacob, when dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, bowing in worship over the head of his staff. He prophesied to Judah, 'The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from his loins, until Shiloh comes; and to Him shall be the expectation of the nations.' This was fulfilled in David, who defeated Goliath with his sling and his staff, and whose staff of rulership will never be broken.

Moses, however, was the master of the staff. He was, perhaps, the first archetype of the 'wizard', with his robe and beard and staff. The staff was made the primary tool with each of the miracles that Adonai empowered Aaron and Moses to perform in rescuing the Hebrews. Adonai empowered the rod of Aaron to turn into a serpent, to eat the magic staves of the Egyptian magicians, to turn the water of the Nile into blood, to invoke thunder and hail and fire out of the heavens, to bring up gnats from the dust, to call Darkness over Egypt, and finally, to divide the Red Sea. God commanded Moses to take the staff with him on his journey, as an important tool of His power. It was with this that he struck the Rock of Horeb and brought forth water. He was commanded to throw a branch into the waters of Marah in order to cleanse the waters of bitterness.

In Exodus 17, when Moses sent Joshua to fight the Amalekites, Moses said to Joshua, 'Tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand.' And it was so that when Moses held up the staff Israel prevailed, but when he let down his hands, Amalek prevailed. When Moses' hands grew heavy, Aaron and Hur supported his hands, so that his hands were steady until the going down of the sun. And so Israel prevailed over Amalek.

In Numbers 17, Adonai commands Moses to make a staff for each of the tribes of Israel, write their names upon them, and then put them before the Ark of the Testimony in the Tabernacle of Testimony. Adonai said, 'So it shall be the man I choose, his staff will blossom; thus will I remove the murmurings of the children of Israel which they murmur against you.' It was the staff of Aaron and the House of Levi that blossomed out and produced ripe almonds, thus choosing that Tribe as the priesthood of Adonai. Adonai then commanded that Aaron's staff be kept as a permanent sign before the Ark of the Covenant.

Shortly thereafter, when the Israelites were perishing for thirst, Adonai commanded Moses to 'Take the staff; and you and your brother Aaron gather the congregation together. Speak to the rock before them, and it will give its waters.' When Moses strikes the rock with the staff instead of speaking to it, Adonai punishes him for not following His commandment to hold the staff and speak to the rock as an animate spirit.

The Prophets also carried staves of power. In the Book of Kings, when a child lies dead, Elisha tells his servant Gehazi, 'Prepare yourself, take my staff in your hand and be on your way. If you meet anyone, you will not greet him. And if anyone greets you, you will not answer him. You shall lay my staff on the face of the child.' Elisha expects that the power of his staff will be sufficient to bring the child back to life. When Gehazi proves incapable of performing the miracle, Elisha prays, lays on the child seven times, and thus breathes life into the child.

Even the Angel of Yahweh carried a staff of power. In the story of Gideon (Judges 6-7), Yahweh commands Gideon to 'Take the meat and the unleavened bread and lay them on this rock, and pour out the broth.' Gideon does so. "Then the Angel of Yahweh stretched out the end of the staff that was in his hand and touched the meat and the unleavened bread; and fire rose out of the rock and consumed the meat and the unleavened bread. And the Angel of Yahweh departed out of his sight."

Our God is a God of wonders.

Even though I walk through the valley

of the shadow of death,

I shall fear no evil, for thou art with me.

Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.

As a footnote, the 'Rod of Aaron' is a subject of much interest in Rabbinical and Christian legends. The Jewish Encyclopedia states:

'[The] legend of the rod as given by the Syrian Solomon in his "Book of the Bee" has Christian characteristics. According to it the staff is a fragment of the Tree of Knowledge, and was successively in the possession of Shem, of the three Patriarchs, and of Judah, just as in the Jewish legend. From Judah it descended to Pharez, ancestor of David and of the Messiah. After Pharez's death an angel carried it to the mountains of Moab and buried it there, where the pious Jethro found it. When Moses, at Jethro's request, went in search of it, the rod was brought to him by an angel. With this staff Aaron and Moses performed all the miracles related in Scripture, noteworthy among which was the swallowing up of the wonder-working rods of the Egyptian Posdi. Joshua received it from Moses and made use of it in his wars (Josh. viii. 18); and Joshua, in turn, delivered it to Phinehas, who buried it in Jerusalem. There it remained hidden until the birth of Jesus, when the place of its concealment was revealed to Joseph, who took it with him on the journey to Egypt. Judas Iscariot stole it from James, brother of Jesus, who had received it from Joseph. At Jesus' crucifixion the Jews had no wood for the transverse beam of the cross, so Judas produced the staff for that purpose. This typological explanation of Moses' rod as the cross is not a novel one. Origen on Exodus (chap. vii.) says: "This rod of Moses, with which he subdued the Egyptians, is the symbol of the cross of Jesus, who conquered the world." Christian legend has preserved the Jewish accounts of the rod of the Messiah and made concrete fact of the idea.'

You can visit this link for more information on the legends of the Staff of God.