Solomon and Sheba

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This painting here shown is in the National Museum of Ethiopia in Addis Ababa, and represents the meeting as described in I Kings 10:2. To the Ethiopian Orthodox tradition, the story is itself the source of a series of remarkable traditions: the coming of Ark to Ethiopia, the keeping of a version of kosher law from the Old Testament, the establishment of a Davidic kingly line, etc. While these meet skepticism from the historians, there is a grain of truth: Cush is mentioned in the Old Testament, and Ethiopia does have a Christian patriarchate reaching back to the 3rd century.

One might also find a truth behind these seemingly exotic historical claims. Every church seeks to link Old and New Testament. And every church would root, to ‘incarnate’, the gospel in its own soil. These goals are played out in a literal way in Ethiopia, the original African church. But in some metaphoric way we too would marry gospel and culture, as we keep the distinctiveness of the former. Solomon and Sheba are an allegory of something ubiquitous. But on the romance score the Ethiopians win!


Complete the Race (II Timothy 4:17)

At the end of our vacation we find ourselves in Chicago for its Marathon weekend (the fastest, I have read this morning, perhaps because it is cool and relatively level). Marathons offer many good things. You can see world-class athletes from places like Ethiopia and Kenya. There is a feel of fiesta with signs by family members, getups by some for-fun runners, and food for sale.

But as I looked out my hotel window at 7:30 a.m., I watched the race of competitors who have lost legs or their use. Wheeling vehicles by arm for 26 miles means serious fitness and determination.

Those competitors were to me, this morning, a symbol of the Church too. For each is wounded. The larger family cheers them on. Each by grace has risen up to run the race. Ahead is the goal, the prize, the welcome home. We find the companionship of Jesus the Lord, there, and along the route too.