The Weekend Wanderer: 18 June 2022

The Weekend Wanderer” is a weekly curated selection of news, stories, resources, and media on the intersection of faith and culture for you to explore through your weekend. Wander through these links however you like and in any order you like. Disclaimer: I do not necessarily agree with all the views expressed within these articles but have found them thought-provoking.


Juneteenth“For Christians, Juneteenth Is a Time of Jubilee” – Rasool Berry in Christianity Today: “I was never taught about Juneteenth growing up. I was born and raised in Philadelphia, the ‘cradle of liberty,’ in Pennsylvania—which was the first state to end slavery with the Gradual Abolition Act of 1780. Philly was one of the major stops on the Underground Railroad, thanks to the abolitionism of the Quakers, and the home of Richard Allen’s Free African Society. And while slavery was abolished in Pennsylvania more than 80 years before the Civil War began, I always thought of the Emancipation Proclamation as the document that ended slavery in America. It wasn’t until years later when I heard of a woman named Ms. Opal Lee, who walked halfway across the country at 89 years old to advocate for Juneteenth to become a national holiday, that I discovered a history I had never learned in school. Over two and a half years passed between President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation and when the first of those enslaved in Texas tasted freedom: 900 more days of being separated from family and forced to work under the threat of violence and death. But the question remains, why does Juneteenth matter to the church?”


Taste and See“Introducing Taste and See” – Featured at The Rabbit Room blog: “Every once in a while, the Rabbit Room team has the good fortune of crossing paths with someone whose creative work is shockingly aligned with our own. These moments re-invigorate us not only in our own mission and vision, but in the desire to share the good and lasting work of kindred spirits far and wide. Most recently, this wonderful convergence has taken place with Andrew Brumme, who is directing a new documentary series called Taste and See that will blow your mind and change the way you think about breakfast. If, in some blessed alternate universe, Robert Farrar Capon had decided to make a documentary with Terrence Malick, guided by the foundational wisdom of Wendell Berry, then they would have made something like the pilot of Taste and See. Yes, it’s that amazing. Put more succinctly, and in the words of the official website, Taste and See ‘explores the spirituality of food with farmers, chefs, bakers and winemakers engaging with food as a profound gift from God. Their lives in the fields, in the kitchen and around the table serve as a meditation on the beauty, mystery and wonder to be found in every meal.'”


Lawrence+Cherono+at+Kiptagat+Training+Center,+Kiptagat,+Kenya-1_web“How Christian Faith Propels Elite Kenyan Runners To Global Success” – Dr. Robert Carle in Religion Unplugged: “Since 1988, 20 out of the 25 first-place men in the Boston Marathon have been Kenyan. Of the top 25 male record holders for the 3,000-meter steeplechase, 18 are Kenyan. Eight of the 10 fastest marathon runners in history are Kenyan, and the two outliers are Ethiopian. The fastest marathon time ever recorded was Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge’s in the 2018 Berlin Marathon. The fastest women’s marathon ever recorded was Kenyan Bridgid Kosgei’s in the Chicago Marathon. Three-quarters of these Kenyan champions come from the Kalenjin ethnic minority, which has only 6 million people, or 0.06% of the global population. The Kalenjin live in Kenya’s Rift Valley. Iten, a town that sits on the edge of the valley at 7,000 feet above sea level, is nicknamed the City of Champions. ‘If you look at it statistically, it sort of becomes laughable,’ said David Epstein, a former senior writer at Sports Illustrated. ‘There are 17 American men in history who have run under 2:10 in marathons. There were 32 Kalenjin who did it in October of 2011.’ American journalists have been fascinated by Kalenjin runners for decades, and their explanations for Kenyan dominance in running have included training, culture, biology and diet. However, one factor remains little explored or understood in media coverage: The spiritual lives of the Kalenjin runners have received scant attention.”


OPC general assembly“Orthodox Presbyterians Apologize for Racism at General Assembly” – Daniel Silliman in Christianity Today: “The General Assembly of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church (OPC) apologized Friday for four racist incidents at its annual gathering. In a statement of ‘sorrow and regret’passed without dissent, the General Assembly said ‘there is no place in the church for such conduct’ and ‘we repudiate and condemn all sins of racism, hatred, and prejudice, as transgressions against our Holy God, who calls us to love and honor all people.’ The 126 commissioners from the Reformed denomination’s 296 congregations gathered in Philadelphia at Eastern University on Wednesday. The annual meetings do not normally involve much controversy and could even be considered boring when compared to the dramatic conflicts within the Presbyterian Church in America or Southern Baptist Convention.”


MISSING“The Mysterious Disappearance of Moses: Somehow the Jewish sect that claimed to follow the Messiah Jesus very quickly ceased to follow the Law” – Todd Brewer in Mockingbird: “Investigators from the missing persons unit of Christian Theology are seeking the public’s assistance in locating Moses ben Amran, who has gone missing. His last known whereabouts appear to be some time in the first century. His last known associate was Saul of Tarsus, last seen traveling from Jerusalem to Damascus on a secretive business trip. While some witnesses are claiming that Moses has been heard from recently, his public appearances have mysteriously dwindled and investigators remain baffled as to the cause. Where did Moses go? At the heart of Christian origins stands the mysterious case of Moses’ disappearance. Somehow the Jewish sect that claimed to follow the Messiah Jesus very quickly ceased to follow the Law, i.e. the covenant of Moses given on Mount Sinai.”


'Bathing the Baby Jesus in a wooden bowl', scene inspired by the apocryphal gospels. Detail of m?

“‘The Apocryphal Gospels’ Review: Good News and Fake News” – Michael J. Kruger in The Wall Street Journal: “In December 1945, Muhammad Ali—not the boxer but a peasant farmer from Nag Hammadi, a town of Upper Egypt—uncovered an ancient earthenware jar. Muhammad and his brother broke it open and found books, 13 in all, among them more than 50 ancient Christian texts. The circumstances of the discovery have long been debated—the books may not have come from a jar after all—but no one disputes that he had made one of the greatest archaeological finds in the modern era. The cache of Christian texts came to be known as the Gnostic Gospels. The discovery upended the world of biblical scholarship. The new texts generated an insatiable interest in the so-called apocryphal Gospels—the ones not included in our Bibles. For those outside the scholarly guild, what is commonly known about these ‘lost’ accounts of Jesus typically comes through blog entries, internet lore, fictional books (think of The Da Vinci Code) and a host of conspiratorial documentaries. It’s often suggested that all the ancient Gospels are more or less the same and that the four biblical Gospels made it into the canon only because of political pressure or an ecclesiastical power grab. What’s almost invariably missing in debates over such claims is a careful reading of the original apocryphal texts—which are both similar to and different from Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. The Apocryphal Gospels edited by Cambridge University scholar Simon Gathercole, is a welcome addition to discussions about these mysterious writings. Mr. Gathercole offers a brief and helpful introduction to the world of the apocryphal Gospels, but the bulk of the volume is devoted to his English translations of the earliest apocryphal Gospels, those that appeared before A.D. 300.”


Music: Robbie Seay Band, “Psalm 91 (He Knows My Name),” from Psalms LP

When God Calls You by Name

“When the Lord saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, ‘Moses! Moses!'” (Exodus 3:4)

Moses draws near to this bush that is on fire, perhaps mostly out of curiosity about this strange sight. As Moses draws close, the Living God captures his attention and then begins speaking to him.

God says something simple, yet full of meaning: “Moses! Moses!”

Notice first of all that God invites Moses into a conversation. It is not an abstract or impersonal conversation, but one that is deeply personal. God calls Moses by his name. Moses is not anonymous to God but is known. Moses is not just a resource to be used by God, but a person. And this personal invitation is bathed in loved. Speaking his name twice, God addresses Moses in a way that reflects tender love by repeating his name twice This reminds us that God knows all people personally, even by name, and that God has tender love for people, regardless of their background.

Next pay attention to the fact that God’s address to Moses is an invitation into authentic relationship. This episode at the burning bush begins a long relationship between Moses and God. There are ups, like the literal journey up Mount Sinai to receive the Ten Commandments, and there are downs, like Moses’ disobedience in striking the rock. In the end, Moses was known as one who God knew and related with face to face (Deuteronomy 34:10). When we hear a computerized voice say our name, reading a text through our phone or car, it doesn’t do much for us emotionally. The message may be meaningful, but the voice often feels at odds with that, coming across as sterile and inhuman. But when I hear someone I personally know call my name—my wife, my child, or my friend—I am immediately drawn into intimate relationship and vulnerable conversation. This episode with Moses and God at the burning bush reminds us that God isn’t interested in standing at a distance. Instead, God risks entering into real relationship with human beings, knowing us and being known by us. This is an amazing and nearly incomprehensible gift.

Wherever you are right now, let me encourage you to pause. Let me encourage you to still yourself and remember there is a God who exists. He has reached out to us first in creation and He has reached out to us even more personally through the incarnation of Jesus Christ. Remember that He calls you by name and wants to know you. In the stillness of this moment, hear God call you name. Then, speak your response to Him.

Listen to Him!: The call to attention for disciples of Jesus

While he was still speaking, a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!” (Matthew 17:5)

At the mount of transfiguration, Jesus’ glory is revealed before the eyes of Peter, James, and John. Overwhelmed by all they are beholding, Peter offers to build a set of shelters for Jesus, Moses, and Elijah. Mark tells us “[Peter] did not know what to say, they were so frightened” (Mark 9:6).

It is a great relief, then, that before Peter can go any further with his ideas, there is a divine interruption in with several accompanying physical signs. First, “a bright cloud covered them.” This cloud represents God’s presence and power, just as at the exodus God led the people with a cloud by day and pillar of fire by night. Second, there is a voice from the cloud, booming through the cloud and accompanying the transfigured Jesus. Third, there is the message of that voice, which rings with dramatic power: speaking through the cloud to them, booming with this message: “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!” (Matthew 17:5b).

The message here directly echoes the words spoken over Jesus at His baptism, with one significant addition. In Matthew 3, at His baptism, God’s voice speaks primarily for Jesus, affirming and commissioning Jesus into ministry. But here in Matthew 17, at the transfiguration, God speaks primarily for those who are with Jesus. The strong word, “Listen to Him!”, is for the disciples’ ears. They had listened to Him so well up to this point. Yet when Jesus begins to speak of going to Jerusalem to suffer, die, and rise again, they wonder if their idea that He is the Messiah might be wrong. But it is precisely here that they are to listen to Jesus. Even though some of the words He speaks may confuse them, particularly the part about messianic suffering and death, they must listen most attentively here.

For it is in the suffering and dying that the meaning of Jesus as Messiah will be most truly revealed. It is as if the Father says, “Listen, watch, attend to Him. What you will hear and see will shock you, but it will shock you right into abundant life.”

The New Moses

This past weekend at Eastbrook, I continued our preaching series, “Who Do You Say I Am?”, by looking at the well-known story of Jesus feeding the 5,000 in Matthew 14:13-23. What does this episode tell us about who Jesus is and how can we learn to live in response to Him based on the miraculous events we encounter here? There is just so much in this passage I wish I had been able to preach 3 or 4 messages just from this text.

This message is part of the sixth part of our longer series on Matthew, which includes “Family Tree,” “Power in Preparation,” “Becoming Real,” “The Messiah’s Mission,” and “Stories of the Kingdom.”

You can find the message video and outline below. You can also view the entire series here. Join us for weekend worship in-person or remotely via Eastbrook at Home.


“When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.” (Matthew 14:13)

Jesus’ Unsuccessful Withdrawal (Matthew 14:13)

Withdrawing from Herod Antipas and the crowds

Jesus pursued by the crowds into the wilderness

Jesus’ Heart (Matthew 14:13-14)

“He had compassion on them…” (NIV)

“His heart went out to them…”

Jesus Feeds a Great Crowd (Matthew 14:15-21)

Recognizing the needs of the crowd and limited provision

The gathering of the crowd

The miraculous provision for the crowd 

Jesus’ action: take – bless – break – give 

Jesus Finally Withdraws (Matthew 14:22-23)

The disciples are sent away

Jesus goes up to the mountain

Jesus the New Moses (Matthew 14:15-23)

Out in the wilderness

A huge crowd of people who are in need

Providing miraculous food

Jesus meets with God on the mountain

Making it Real

Encounter Jesus’ heart

Encounter Jesus’ provisionBe a disciple in Jesus’ hand


Dig Deeper:

This week dig deeper in one or more of the following ways:

• Memorize Matthew 14:19
• Journal, draw, paint, or ink this story or some aspect of it as a way of reflecting on who Jesus is and how you most need to meet with Him.
• Take some time to draw away with God for a few hours or a day. Use this episode in Matthew 14 as a basis for your day alone with God. Take time in prayer and reading Scripture. Be still and rest in God. Perhaps you could use the suggestions from the Potter’s Inn as a guide here.
• Consider reading Henri Nouwen’s book Life of the Beloved, which reflects on the fourfold action of Jesus in this story (taken – blessed – broken – given) as a metaphor for the spiritual life.

What Concerns God?

When I look at my life, there are things that concern me: my family, meaningful relationships, my finances, the state of the world, and more. I am sure that you have your own list of things that concern you.

In my Scripture readings from the past week, I was interested in finding out that there are also specific things that concern God. Look at these words from Exodus 2:

God heard their [the enslaved Israelites] groaning and He remembered His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac and with Jacob. So God looked on the Israelites and was concerned about them. (Exodus 2:24-25)

God is concerned about people. His concern for people plays out in two different ways: 1) God’s concern that He is faithful to His promises to people, and His concern about the suffering of His people.

God is Concerned About Being Faithful

First of all, God is concerned with being faithful to the promises He makes with people. The Scripture quoted above says that God “remembered” His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Even though the Israelites are now enslaved by the Egyptians, God has not forgotten the promises He made to them over many generations. He remembers His covenant, or agreement, with Abraham: “I will make you into a great nation…” (Genesis 12:2). He remembers that He renewed that covenant with Abraham’s son, Isaac: “I am the God of your father, Abraham. Do not be afraid, for I am with you…” (Genesis 26:24). And God remembers that, even though Jacob has done many things wrong, He renewed that covenant again with Jacob: “I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac….I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go…” (Genesis 28:13, 15).

God is concerned with being faithful to these promises. As it says in the Psalms: “He is faithful in all He does” (33:4). And as it says in Numbers 23:19, “God is not a human, that He should lie.” God is faithful to His promises, and He is concerned about living up to His promises to people. It is helpful for us to remember this in our lives. When we have our own concerns and worries, God is concerned about being faithful to what He has promised to us.

God is Concerned About His People’s Suffering

Secondly, God is concerned with the suffering of His people. After hearing the groans of the Israelites, God calls Moses to be a deliverer for His people. Here are God’s words to Moses that reveal His motivations in calling Moses to the job of deliverer:

The Lord said, ‘I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them…’ (Exodus 3:7-8)

God is concerned about their suffering. Many people view God as an impassive, removed deity who has no sense of the pain and suffering we endure in our lives. The picture we see of God here in Exodus is quite different. God is concerned about the suffering of His people.

In the life of Christ, we come face to face with God’s concern over human suffering. On the one hand, Jesus reaches out to heal and care for people in their suffering. On the other hand, Jesus goes to the cross for the sin and evil of the world, bringing healing to a suffering world: “Surely He took up our pain and bore our suffering” (Isaiah 53:4). God is concerned with the suffering of His people, not only in this Exodus story, but also in our daily lives. He hears and He is concerned about us.

Since we live in a world filled with concerns, it is beneficial to remember that God has concerns as well. He is concerned with being true to His promises to us, and He acts in complete faithfulness with us. God is also concerned with the suffering of His people, and He acts with appropriate care and power to help us.

How has God showed up in your life with His divine concern?