Bethel UMC and Woodlawn UMC will be going to in person service on Palm Sunday, March 28, 2021. Masks and social distancing will be observed in both churches. Please see calendar for times.
Torah Reading for April 11 -17, 2021
Welcome to the first Sunday of the Fellowship season! Last week you heard Jesus speaking to us, saying, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you that everything written about me in the Law of Moses [Torah] and the prophets and the psalms must be fulfilled…” (Luke 24:44). Jesus, then, did something extraordinary. He opened their minds to understand the scriptures. Jesus said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And see, I am sending upon you what my Father promised; so stay here in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high,” (Luke 24:45-49).With this in mind, let us look at this week’s Torah encoded reading, Numbers 1:1-4:20. In the Hebrew language (God’s sacred tongue) from which our English Bible translation was taken, this week’s Torah encoded reading is called, “Bamidbar” translated “In the wilderness or desert,” see Numbers 1:1.
To understand this, one has to, first of all, identify the double references in the text. On a superficial linguistic level which is intended primarily for the Jewish audience, the reading focuses on the Torah code, “Bamidvar,” (In the wilderness). Thus, in the opening part of the reading, God tells Moses to conduct a census of the twelve tribes of Israel in the Sinai wilderness. In the central part of the reading, we see Moses counting 603,550 men of draftable age (20 to 60 years); the tribe of Levi, numbering 22,300 males age one month and older is counted separately. Please note that the Levites are to serve in the Sanctuary replacing the firstborn, whose number they approximated, who were disqualified when they participated in the worshipping of the Golden Calf. When the people broke camp, the three Levite clans dismantled and transported the Sanctuary, and reassembled it at the center of the next encampment. They, then, erected their own tents around it: the Kohathites, who carried the Sanctuary’s vessels (the Ark, menorah, etc.) in their specially designed coverings on their shoulders, camped to its south; the Gershonites, in charge of its tapestries and roof coverings, to its west; and the families of Merari, who transported its wall panels and pillars, to its north. Before the Sanctuary’s entranceway, to its east, were the tents of Moses, Aaron, and Aaron’s sons. The reading ends with each tribe led by its own prince or leader, and carrying its own flag with its own tribal color and emblem.
Indeed, on a profound theological level, this week’s Torah reading, “In the wilderness, or desert” has an important message to us, the Church, the Body of Christ. This message is evident when the reading is interpreted in the context of this first week of the Fellowship season. And that is, if we are going to be able to explain the success or the failure of the work of building the Kingdom of God entrusted to us by Jesus, then we must not overlook anybody who can lend a hand. How do we know that? Listen, again, to what God instructing Moses and us to do, “Take a census of all the congregation of the people of Israel…from twenty years old and upward, all in Israel who are able to go forth to war; you and Aaron shall number them, company by company,” (Numbers 1:2-3). Why the need to count every potential helper? Because each one of us created alike in the image of God, and incorporated alike into the Church, the Body of Christ, and blessed alike with the gifts of God’s Holy Spirit has the potential to help transform this chaotic world into a home where God will reside. In other words, it is the action of the individual guided by God’s Spirit that will make the difference. You see, of all the commands that God gave to Israel, and us, the one to conduct a census, a seemingly purposeless task expresses his love for them and for us. Listen, again, to what God said, “But now thus says the Lord, he who created you…Because you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you…,” (Isaiah 43:1, 4). Perhaps, it is for this reason that David exclaims, saying, “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High, who abides in the shadow of the Almighty, will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress; my God, in whom I trust,” (Psalm 91:1-2). What, then, do we need to do in a time so morally and so spiritually challenging such as this? Listen, to John’s advice to us. John said that when Jesus had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit,” (John 20:22).
|Adult Sunday School||10:00 AM|
|Worhip Service||11:00 AM|
|Church Wide Bible Study||6:30 PM|
3180 Fort Campbell Blvd.
Clarksville, TN 37042