Sunday, January 27, 2013

The Gate

The Gate 2013


The kingdom of Judah was re-constituted as a province of the Persian Empire after the liberation from Babylonian domination. Ezra was the religious leader for the new state. Nehemiah was the governor. The re-constitution was celebrated as an extension of Judaic culture with the reading of the law. The “law” was a combination of literature and history that documented the formation of the Jewish people.

The Water Gate
All the people gathered together into the square before the Water Gate. They told the scribe Ezra to bring the book of the law of Moses, which the Lord had given to Israel. Accordingly, the priest Ezra brought the law before the assembly, both men and women and all who could hear with understanding.

This was on the first day of the seventh month. He read from it facing the square before the Water Gate from early morning until midday, in the presence of the men and the women and those who could understand; and the ears of all the people were attentive to the book of the law.


The Water Gate in the passage has been un-earthed.

Excavation of the Water Gate,7340,L-4086258,00.html
“The highlight of the excavations is the complete exposure of the gate house. The plan of this impressive building includes four rooms of identical size, arranged on both sides of a broad corridor paved with crushed limestone.

“The plan of the gate house is characteristic of the First Temple period (tenth-sixth centuries BCE) and is similar to contemporaneous gates that were revealed at Megiddo, Beersheba and Ashdod.

“The excavator, Eilat Mazar, suggests identifying the gate house here with the ‘water gate’ mentioned in the Bible: “…and the temple servants living on Ophel repaired to a point opposite the Water Gate on the east and the projecting tower” (Nehemiah 3:26).”


The book of the law expresses opposition to slavery and murder. The love for God is seen as hope for redemption from what was wrong with the past. The scripture documents the events for a time when it was hoped that existence in empire would expand justice. Alliance with empire however would come to face great challenge with the changing of imperial leadership.

If the Babylonian law was wrong because it allowed citizens to get away with murder, how were the Persian policies of devotion to the destruction of the enemy and perpetual war acceptable to a law that condemned killing as murder? Wasn’t murder on a mass scale being condoned outside of the kingdom while murder and other crimes were punishable by the death penalty in the kingdom?


The excavation of ancient sites opens the door for comparison of then with now. What had happened in the flow of history? How does that flow influence what is being done now?

The Ruins of Ephesus allow for a comparison of buildings and policies from a number of imperial constructs. The Romans had adopted Greek gods and stories with the modification of names for the gods. Some buildings were maintained. Others were added. The Romans were replaced by the Byzantines and the Byzantines by the Ottomans.

The lives of apostolic Christians give us an idea of what was happening with some members of a small but growing religious group within the empire. Timothy, Titus and Silas were traveling companions with Paul.
Timothy was given a church in Ephesus and Titus in Crete. Silas was liberated from jail with Paul in Phillippi.

The early church in Ephesus may have assembled in the temple of Diana (formerly Artemis). The temple was a public construct for religious worship. 

Remains for the Church of St. John from the 6th century CE have been unearthed. It had been built during the reign of Justinian, a Byzantine emperor.
"The basilica was in a very dilapidated state when the Turks arrived in the Xll’th cent, (it was turned into a mosque in 1330). The building was partly destroyed by earthquake during the XlV’th cent, and was finally completely ruined during Tamerlane’s conquest of the town."


Time and space discourage extensive comparison by contrast, but the provision against cruel and unusual punishment as expressed by the English bill of rights (1689) was not in evidence; neither was the provision for freedom of religion as expressed in the US bill of rights (1791).
While these provisions are not the sum total for all the rights that are regarded as human in civil government, they affect a change in the administration of justice. Formerly, persecution was often conflated with prosecution. The members of the ruling elite could punish without being punished; making justice into a vague abstraction; something that might possibly exist, but often escapes expression by implementation in society.

The following song celebrates hope with promise.

The Gate to Restoration
1 Corinth.12, Neh. 8, Exodus 20; Ps. 19, Ps. 80, Matt.21:33-46
The body has many members,
but the members form one body.
So it is with Christ.
We were baptized into one body
by the Spirit. We participate
in the communion of community
as one living being.

Our communion is our common cup
irrespective of race, sex, age,
social status or income bracket.
When one member suffers; all suffer.
When one member is honored; all rejoice.

The people of conflict gather together in a temple
before the altar. The book of the law with liberty and grace
is brought out and read. The priest stands before the people
to reflect upon what had been read. Prayers are offered
for guidance in understanding, deliverance from adversity
and justice with mercy. The good news of God’s love
is shared by the experience of worship.
Communion shares energy
with divine being.

The rule of law is the gate to progress
in prosperity for posterity.

We are a religious body that participates
in government. We are not the government.
We do not own the government.
We do not dictate policy to the government.
We bring our experience with history to the table
to promote public policy that is fair
for the community, state, nation and the world.

Restore us, O God of Hosts.
Show the light from your sun.
We will be saved.
You brought a vine out from a land of cruelty.
You prepared the vineyard for growth.
The earth is the work of your hands.
The heavens have declared your handiwork.
You cast out those that enslaved people.

One day tells its tale to another.
One night imparts knowledge to the other.
Although time has no words or language;
the message has gone out to the ends of the world;
the sound has gone out to all lands.
A pavilion has been set for the sun in the deep.
Light comes forth like a bridegroom from his chamber
Illumination rises like a champion to run the course.

The course runs from the uttermost edge
and extends to the end of the heavens.
Nothing is hidden from its brilliant radiance.
The law of the LORD is perfect.
It revives the soul.
It gives wisdom
to all who need it.

You will not make false gods.
You will not abuse the name
of the LORD, your God.
Remember to worship together.
You will work for most of the week,
but preserve time for holiness.
Honor your father and mother
that your generation may live long
and well in the land in which you live.

You will not murder. You will not destroy marriage.
You will not steal. You will not bear false witness.
You will not covet another’s property.
You will not punish to destroy. When the accused is found
guilty of crime in a court of law by the body of evidence
before a jury of peers the accused will be convicted.
The convicted will be corrected by detention,
instruction and rehabilitation;
not by torture;
not by cruelty.
Murder is the only crime punishable by death,
but conviction must be based on evidence
that does not allow the shadow of a doubt.
The conviction may not be based on discrimination.

Leaders who profit from wars of aggression;
profit from merchandizing death.
This is mass murder.
The profit is not exempt from punishment.
Neither are those who made it.
Love God. Love others. Then you will love yourself.
Keep yourself from sin to keep yourself from crime.
Care for those who need it. Love your enemy.
Hate violence and deception
or you will never progress in justice
or find justice in progress.

These commandments are just.
They give joy to the heart and insight to the mind.
They make the vine take root.

The vine took root. It grew.
The tendrils stretched out along the rivers
and reached down to the sea.
The mountains were covered by its shadow;
The towering trees by its shade.
The land was filled with fertility.
Justice was the fruit of immortality.

The landowner leased the vineyard to tenants.
When the harvest time had come
he sent messengers to collect
the profit from its produce.
One was beaten.
One was stoned.
Another was killed.
He sent his son
hoping for respect.

The tenants seized the son,
cast him out of the vineyard
and killed him.
Now the walls of the vineyard
have been broken down.
The wild boar has ravaged the earth.
The beasts of the forest have eaten their fill
of our fruit. Injustice has established inequity.
Inequity has caused strife among the people.

What will the owner of the vineyard do to the tenants?
He will take it away from them and give it to people
who will produce the fruit of justice.
Turn now, O God of hosts, look down from heaven.
Behold this vine in your vineyard.
Preserve what your hands have planted.
Tend to the growth of the garden.
Restore our faith.

Your judgments are true and righteous
O LORD, our strength and redeemer.
They are more desirable than gold
and sweeter by far than honey.
Let the words of my mouth
and the meditation of my heart,
be acceptable in your sight,
O LORD God of hosts.

There are social programs that act as an extension for the life of the person who played a leading role in establishing the service. The counseling service at St. Mark’s in Macau, a former Portuguese colony, reflects the teaching ministry established by Christ through the work of the first female priest, Florence Li Tim-Oi.

Children At St. Mark's Daycare in Macau
"St. Mark’s has a school, serving 2,000 students in K-12 and adult education, and runs a daycare center. And like the Gambling Counseling and Family Wellness Center, St. Mark’s serves families affected by gambling."

The Ordination of Florence Li Tim-Oi
First Woman Priest in the Anglican Communion 1944
"The story begins with the ordination of Florence Li Tim Oi in Hong Kong in 1944. The Japanese occupation of Hong Kong during World War II meant that Anglican priests were prevented from crossing to the unoccupied colony of Macao to bring the sacraments to the people there. Faced with this pastoral crisis Bishop Hall decided to ordain Tim Oi who was already serving as a deacon in Macao.

"It should be noted that Bishop Hall was in no position to consult any of the "Instruments of Unity" before making this decision and, in fact, was later roundly condemned by them. After the war, despite censure and pressure from the 1948 Lambeth Conference and two successive Archbishops of Canterbury, Bishop Hall did not require Tim Oi to renounce her ordination. She surrendered her licence to practise as a priest and continued her faithful service to the church in China as far as she could through terrible years of suffering during the Cultural Revolution.

"Finally, in 1971 the newly formed Anglican Consultative Council, which included lay people as well as priests and bishops, met in Kenya and voted by a narrow margin to allow the diocese of Hong Kong to ordain women. Tim Oi now in her 70's was able to resume her priestly ministry and we were honoured to have her spend her final years in Canada."
"The Anglican Church of Canada had by this time approved the ordination of women to the priesthood and in 1984, the 40th anniversary of her ordination; Ms. Li was, with great joy and thanksgiving, reinstated as a priest. This event was celebrated not only in Canada but also at Westminster Abbey and at Sheffield in England even though the Church of England had not yet approved the ordination of women."
"It was not until 1971 that the Anglican Communion agreed that further women might be ordained priest, and not until 1994 that women were priested in the Church of England. In the same year the 'Li Tim-Oi Foundation' was launched to empower women in the Two-Thirds World for Christian mission and ministry."

Western society has given birth to constitutional democracy. It is potentially the greatest contribution to the world for the representation of human rights by government. Capitalism as an economic system is allowed, but giving an unfair advantage to the wealthiest people with a tax break allowed them to buy control of the government.

Allowing the tax break increase from the Bush administration to expire has decreased the advantage afforded by the break. It has not ended it. The time that it took to win a small correction for the middle class shows that the correction is not complete. Neither does it count as something that has stopped the human rights violations documented by the NDAA.
Constitutional democracy favors that which is right about centrism.

The success of right wing extremism distorted the sense of center. When the right and left sides of center have been pushed so far to the right that the poor are being pushed out the door of society, democracy doesn't represent the people.
It only represents the elitists who have been paying to control government outcomes. Decreasing the tax break given to the wealthiest provides a measure for increasing representation for the people. This is the political solution that is currently being promoted by the executive to the legislative branch of the government.

The judicial branch has civil and criminal areas of authority. Tax reform promotes economic recovery, but it doesn’t correct those who paid to orchestrate two invasions and the human rights violations allowed by the NDAA.
How are people who profit from the merchandizing of death by mass murder to be corrected? There is the civic dimension for the problem. Law suits can seek financial restitution, but the criminal aspect has been left to speculation regarding punishment in the “after life.”

What level of hell is reserved for those who profit from mass murder? The speculation is idle when it refuses to consider the impact on the world. If the national court won’t entertain the criminal prosecution of offense will an international court be granted the authority of recognition by nations united for justice?
Unite for justice. Oppose war. Take action against wars for aggression. History has too many examples of criminals who rose to power by placing themselves over or outside of the law.

Steve K.  

No comments:

Post a Comment