Sunday the Ninth

“Take these words of mine into your heart and soul. Bind (Hebrew, קשר [qashar]) them at your wrist as a sign, and let them be a pendant on your forehead (Deuteronomy 11:18).”
     As the Liturgical calendar unfolds, we have been treated this year to an entire proclaiming and listening to Jesus’ teaching on Kingdom living known as the “Sermon on the Mount.” After weeks of comfort (“Blessed are ...”) and weeks of challenge (“But I say to you ...”), what is the believer left to do? We are instructed at the end of the Sermon “to listen” and “to act,” actions that in-flesh Moses’ command “קשר [qashar, ‘to bind’] Deuteronomy 11:18.”
     The Hebrew verb קשר presents vivid images of “tying down” as well as “girding tightly.” This is the biblical basis for the Jewish practice of tefillin which Jesus addresses in His Public Ministry (Matthew 23:5. Phylactery (Greek) is the translation of the Hebrew tefillin). The tefillin consists of a small, leather-type box or envelope that is “tied” or “bound” on the wrist and forehead. Contained in this leather-type box or envelope is the Word of God, meant to be a reminder of God’s presence to oneself (on the wrist) and a reminder to others (on the forehead).

This constant reminder of God’s presence that one is bound to is intended to help one live the spiritual life of the covenant.
     It has become popular in American society to refer to oneself as ‘spiritual, but not religious.’ No doubt scandals in and among ‘religious’ institutions have fueled the attempt to keep the spiritual and distance oneself from actions that work against the Spirit in the name of religion. However, authentic spirituality necessarily involves a ‘binding to’ and authentic religion involves living spiritually. Kingdom living, as pronounced by Jesus in the Sermon, is not a matter of spirituality against religion, but a spirituality that is religious, and a religion that is spiritual.

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