February 7, 2019

Jesus and the Jewish Roots of Mary

Jesus and the Jewish Roots of Mary by Brant Pitre gives Christians from all backgrounds a better understanding of the biblical view of the Mother of Christ.

Published by Image, who kindly sent me a copy to review, the book begins with the author’s questioning the church’s teaching about Mary in his attempt to answer his own questions and those often asked by non-Catholics.

As the Introduction says, “This book is written for anyone who has ever wondered what the Bible really teaches about Mary, the mother of Jesus.”

Then, “Eventually, it dawned on me that the reason I had begun to consider Catholic beliefs about Mary ‘unbiblical’ was that I was not paying enough attention to the Old Testament.”

Does this matter? As the Introduction goes on to say, “When it comes to the mother of Jesus, the stakes are high. Mary is a dividing line between Christians. And the issues involved are serious. If Protestants are right about Mary, then both Catholic and Orthodox Christians – more than half of the world’s Christian population – are committing idolatry on a regular basis. If Catholics and Orthodox are right about Mary, then Protestant Christians – a little less than half of the world’s Christians – are missing out on what the Bible as a whole reveals about the mother of Christ.”

As a Christian who sees where both sides are coming from, I was not interested in who's right but in God’s ongoing command to honor our parents. And, my honoring the mother of my Savior seems like the respectful, responsible thing to do. In addition, I’ve often heard – in the early church and onward –  peoples of all faiths have been drawn to Mary, who then draws them to Christ.

After reading this book with interest, I highly recommend it to anyone who would like to know more about Jesus’ mother and the biblical parallels between her and various women in the Hebrew Bible. In the chapter, “The New Eve,” for instance, the author draws parallels between Mary and Eve, the latter of whom was referred to in Genesis as “woman” before the Fall and only given a proper name afterwards. Since I’d never noticed that distinction before, I could at last see why Jesus referred to His mother as “woman” a couple of times – not out of disrespect but as making a connection between her and the first woman. For, as the New Testament calls Jesus the “New Adam,” Mary can well be considered the New Eve.

Another biblical parallel occurs between Mary and the “Queen Mother” of the Old Testament. For example, the wife (or wives) of a king was not referred to as the Queen Mother, but his biological mother had that particular title. And so, with her Son Jesus as the King of Kings, Mary would understandably be placed in that royal category.

Other parallels can be found in the Ark of the Covenant that contained the Word of God and with Rachel, who weeps for her lost children. But, Dr. Pitre - a graduate of Notre Dame and present Research Professor of Scripture and Theology at the Augustine Institute - explains far better and more knowledgeably than I in this thought-provoking, easy-to-read, engaging book that, I pray, will help to heal the Marian rifts among us.

January 17, 2019

Poetry Editor and Poetry: The WrEN Award for Poetry

Unlike other awards that prize a single poem, The WrEN Award for Poetry aims to honor poets, who consistently produce well-written, compelling poems. Therefore, each entry consists of a batch of 3 to 5 single-spaced pages of unpublished poetry submitted as one of these three categories: Traditional Forms, Free Verse, and Poetry for Children.

For more, see: Poetry Editor and Poetry: The WrEN Award for Poetry  and follow The WrEN Award page on Facebook.

January 14, 2019

Symbols: Water and Fire

Symbols: Water and Fire

If I asked you to name a symbol - any symbol - what would come to your mind?

This "Bible Talk" considers biblical symbols and those unique to ourselves.

December 24, 2018

December 11, 2018

November 17, 2018

Classic poetry from a faith perspective

This anthology of beautifully-written poetry from the perspective of faith is a must-read for Christian poets and poetry lovers of hope: The Soul in Paraphrase.

You'll not only have an excellent collection of literary poems to study and enjoy, you'll have the benefit of notes and comments by the prolific writer and long-time English Professor Leland Ryken - an expert in the field of literature and the Bible. I've appreciated his work for years and keep many of his books beside my desk for quick reference!

For a review of the book, click onto the current post on my Poetry Editor and Poetry blog.

The Soul in Paraphrase, hardback


November 13, 2018

What do we have to offer?

Scripture Readings for November 18, 2018
1 Samuel 1:4-20
Psalm 16
Hebrews 10:11-14, 15-18, 19-25
Mark 13:1-8

Bible Talk

Please click onto this hotlink for the talk based on the above scripture readings: “What do we have to offer?”

Revised Common Lectionary, paperback


October 22, 2018

Hashtag #Christ to the ends of the earth

Are you on Twitter? I am - @MaryHSayler - and also on Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and other social media sites. I hope you'll join me in seeking and praying for ways we can use current trends and hashtags on social networks that extend into every corner and curve of the globe.

Every day newly trending topics are power-tools to reach countless people who wouldn't normally cross our tweet little paths. To give you an example, earlier today on Twitter, I saw that "Trends" included hashtag "NobodyWantsToHear," which gave me the opportunity to tweet this:

#NobodyWantsToHear "You screwed up!" or, worse, "You sinned!" But guess what. We all do. That's the bad news. The Good News is that #God forgives us in the name, sacrifice, and love of #JesusChrist. As we're forgiven in #Christ we're made perfect again! [Repeat the above!]


October 18, 2018

Is Every Trial a Court Case?

If you're a pastor or teacher who uses the Revised Common Lectionary, you might welcome this "Bible Talk" based on the scripture readings scheduled for October 28.

May God bless your study of Holy Scripture!

Is Every Trial a Court Case?

September 28, 2018

For God – or against?

Based on readings from The Revised Common Lectionary, here's the Bible Talk I'll present, Lord willing, this Sunday September 30 at 11 a.m. in the Lake Como Community of Hope, Lake Como, Florida.

For God – or against?

August 28, 2018

PRAYER: How Praying Together Shapes the Church

In the book PRAYER, which Crossway kindly sent me to review, author-pastor John Onwuchekwa examines how communal prayer shapes the life of a church and is as necessary as breathing. I love the analogy! But, sadly, the flip side fits, too – for example, if we think of Christians holding their breath, waiting for God to DO something!

As the first chapter, “Breathe Again,” reminds us:

“Where prayer is present, it’s saying something – it’s speaking, shouting. It teaches the church that we really need the Lord. Where prayer is absent, it reinforces the assumption that we’re okay without him…. It leads a church to believe that there are plenty of things we can do without God’s help, and we need to bother him only when we run into especially difficult situations.”

The truth, however is that, “…prayer is among the most vital keys to a successful ministry. It’s as necessary as breathing. It’s not meant to replace work but enable it. If we care to see our churches thrive in faithfulness to God, then our churches must pray like their lives depended on it. We must learn how to breathe together.”

What’s wonderful about this is that breath, air, wind, Ruah, Holy Spirit power know no denominational lines! And neither does the “Lord’s Prayer” or “Our Father.”

As the author points out in the chapter, “The World is Yours,” Jesus shows us what to ask for as we pray “Our Father” in unison and follow that potent example, corporately.

Conversely, notice how Jesus speaks to the individual in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) and other biblical areas where He teaches on morality.

“But when talking to this same crowd about prayer, all of his pronouns are plural.”

Our corporate prayers are to draw on scripture and lean on the Lord as we: “Populate the prayer list primarily with kingdom, whole body, and major life concerns.”

The chapter, “Lean on Me,” also includes biblical examples of how the early church prayed as one corporate being, and, as the Body of Christ today, we still have access to that prayer power! With prayer a priority – a mission – an outreach guided by God – we can effect change and draw closer to God.

May this book give our churches the CPR needed to have a lively, healthy prayer life and breathe easy in Jesus’ Name.

Mary Harwell Sayler, ©2018, poet-writer, reviewer

PRAYER: How Praying Together Shapes the Church, hardback