Tuesday, April 2nd
Throughout the year, the Massachusetts Conference of the United Church of Christ produces the Daily Lectionary for use by churches. These are the suggested readings for April 2nd: Leviticus 25:1-19; Psalm 53; and Revelation 19:9-10. I would encourage you to read these short selections as part of your Lenten practice.
Wow! Did you take the time to read the Leviticus passage? If you didn’t, please do. I hear so much about churches and people trying to be faithful to Scripture as the litmus test of being faithful at all. This often comes-up in conversations about what we in our church call Open and Affirming. Homosexuality, others argue, is condemned in Scripture and that must be maintained at all costs. There is no right to interpret those passages. The Bible must be followed literally, always. But why is this stance so often limited to arguments against progressive causes such as Open and Affirming? Why is it not invoked when we read wonderful passages such as today’s from Leviticus? The reason seems obvious. We read the Bible literally when it bolsters what we want it to say, and we disregard it when it doesn’t.
For example, the biblical regulation concerning the Sabbatical Year is a statement protecting the environment from being exploited and despoiled. The biblical command about the Year of Jubilee is about economic equality. It is a direct attack on the accumulation of excessive wealth. I’ve never heard these passages touted by anyone professing the faithful to Scripture litmus test.
I am not in favour of a literal reading of the Bible. I think “God is still speaking.” I believe the Spirit is freed from the written word when we let it speak to us and through us (cf 2 Cor. 3:6). The Bible needs to be read thoroughly so that general principles and trends may be discovered. I think being faithful to Scripture is much more than picking and choosing passages to meet our needs. It must allow the arc of revelation to be taken seriously.
There is no way to implement the actual laws of the Sabbatical Year and the Year of Jubilee, but their ideals should be respected by people who take the Bible seriously. Don’t let me or others tell you what the Bible says. Read it. Study it. Join us for Bible study. Listen in church. Ask questions during coffee hour. Take is seriously enough to let it become a part of our conversation and our decision making. Lent is that chance to become reacquainted with the continuing revelation of the Word of God and to make it relevant.
Faith, love and chitchat.
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