Monday, February 28, 2011

Convo with Pastor - Numbers 6:1-5

The Lord spoke to Moses, saying:
When either men or women make
a special vow, the vow of a nazirite,
to separate themselves to the Lord, 
they shall separate themselves
from wine and strong drink ... [and]
All the days of their nazirite vow
no razor shall come upon the head ...
Numbers 6:1-5 
Question: What do Samson (Judg 13:5), Samuel (1 Sam 1:11), probably John the Baptist (Luke 1:13-15), and maybe even Jesus (Mark 14:22-25) have in common?
Answer: They were Nazirites.
Before we get into the possibility of the New Testament Characters -- Jesus and John -- being Nazirites, let's remember what these ascetic people were:
  • They were set apart "TO the Lord." A vow was taken which made them God's -- rather than belonging to themselves or to their families.
  • Parents could set them apart for this role and responsibility from their childhood. For example, part of Samuel's infertile mother's promise to God was to set apart her child if and when God opened her womb.
  • They didn't drink strong drink. In other words, they approached this vow soberly.
  • They didn't cut their hair. To the world, this was an outward sign of an inward vow. Part of Samson's strength, you may remember, was figuratively in his hair (though literally in his faithfulness), and when he allowed his hair to be cut it represented his infidelity to God and his vow.
Some wonder if hairy, wilderness prophet, John the Baptist, was a Nazirite. After all, the angel who proclaimed his birth said, "he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother's womb." John's very faithful Jewish parents would have undoubtedly understood this description in the light of being a Nazirite.
Others wonder if Jesus himself was a Nazirite. They site first the identification of the Christ as a Nazerene -- yes, he came from Nazareth, but could it also mean he'd taken this ascetic vow? They also site his upper room promise: "Truly I tell you, I will never again drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God" (Mark 14:25).
My job today is not to try and convince you of Jesus' or John's long-haired status. My job is to invite you to consider you vow to the Lord. A next step in your faithfulness and mine does not have to involve teetotaling or longer hair! But what kind of commitment might God be calling you and me to?
In Christ's Love,
a guy who could probably be convinced
to give up strong drink (Starbucks Coffee) for Lent
How can we [I] separate ourselves [myself] to the Lord? What kind of commitment is God calling me to? A couple of stories ...

1.  The evening of 2/5 I had a couple of strange dreams that have stuck with me. One was comforting, one was just plain weird! In that dream I was nominated for President of the USA. I was being told that I had to go give my acceptance speech. I kept saying, "But! I'm not qualified! I'm just a middle-class suburban mom. I'm not qualified to be President!"  The response was, "Yes you are. You run your home. You take care of your kids. You are qualified. You'll do a great job." I kept arguing that I was just a mom. I was in my jeans and birks. And I had to make an acceptance speech to run for President of the USA. Very strange!!! (and no - I have NO plans to run for president!)

2.  I told a friend about this dream and she is convinced that God has something BIG planned for me. Something that I do not believe I am qualified for. Something that I can not do without God's guidance and intervention. I laughed. But a different friend said the same thing when I told them about the dream.  A couple of weeks later I was visiting with a friend I hadn't seen in years. We were catching up in her kitchen and she told me that as we were talking about our lives she saw me talking in front of a large group of people, doing something big. Then I told her about the dream and what others have said. 

Thinking about it is so overwhelming. I have decided to not think about it, but try to rebuild my trust in God and learn to not let the darkness overtake me again. If I anticipate god doing something big in my life, I am scared I will just sit here waiting for it instead of trying to grow closer to him and share his love.  

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Speak gently. carefully. thoughtfully. graciously. humbly.

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