Good morning friends, thanks again for your patience as I got these recorded, edited, and published. Edit: This still isn't up at 6AM like I wanted. I didn't sleep last night trying to edit everything and it still isn't even up by 6AM. UGHHHGHGHGHGHGHGH. Kill. Me.
But, fortunately a good amount of this is retread and you can skim through it without losing a great deal. I hope you had a lovely weekend, and I hope you find God's presence in your reading today.
Come, Holy Spirit, come!
Scripture to Read
Questions to Consider
What does this teach me about God?
What does this teach me about humanity?
What does this teach me about myself?
Would Jesus say amen to this?
- My Thoughts -
Lordy, there is a lot in here that I could write a handful of sermons on but I'll try to spare you that torture. However, as common with my sermons I will lift up 3 main points that stick out to me. 1.) I find the Psalm for Psalm 35 to be brutally honest. 2.) I am starting to get a sneaking suspicion about who the author of these texts are. 3.) Leviticus 18. We got beef. Also, what were these people doing that most of that stuff needed to be said!?!?!
First up: the Psalm. We've read a few Psalms like this in the past, but this one just stuck out to me. I find it one of the more "human" psalms. David is essentially lamenting to God and praying to God that bad things happen to his "enemies". I know I'm so guilty of this. I can listen to someone on the news for 10 seconds and hear them say something sensational and stupid and just yell back at the TV "Oh just go die and make the world a better place." When I do this, I am David in Psalm 35. But I also know I'm not the only one either, even the greatest theological minds think the same. Consider this prayer from theologian Stanley Hauerwas.
A brutally honest prayer from an old teacher of mine, Stanley Hauerwas.
Forgiving Lord, I do not want my enemies forgiven. I want you to kill them.
Actually, I would prefer to pray that you punish them rather than kill them, since I would like to watch them suffer. Also, I fear losing my enemies, since my hates are more precious to me than my loves. If I lost my hates, my enemies, how would I know who I am?
Yet you have bent us toward reconciliation, that we may be able to pass one another Christ’s peace. It is a terrible thing to ask of us. I am sure I cannot do it, but you are a wily God able to accomplish miracles. May we be struck alive with the miracle of your grace, even to being reconciled with ourselves.
As we get closer to the election and the negative ads continue to spew how can we best live out "we have been bent towards reconciliation, that we may be able to pass one another Christ's peace"? That's the question I'm sitting with today.
Second thing: I'm starting to get a sneaking suspicion that Leviticus and Numbers are not original texts, or at least from the same author(s) that primarily wrote Genesis and Exodus. The more traditional understanding is that Moses wrote the first 5 books of the Bible while the more "progressive" (?) is that through scholarship we have identified 4 authors based on wavering writing styles and the frequent overlap in writing. (did you catch the retreading of the 10 commandments in Leviticus 23?) One such author is the priestly class, whom often interjects random morality sections into the narrative. Leviticus is starting to feel like a MASSIVE amendment added on from the priestly class trying to stay relevant. How so? I think it's similar to our own context if I am to be honest.
We are living in a post christian era as many Gex X, Gen Y, and Gen Z people are becoming "spiritual, but not religious" with the arguement that basically boils down to "if God created the whole world than why is God retrained to a church building only on Sunday morning?" People in the SBNR camp find their time with God by hiking in nature or by burning sage while meditating, or many other activities that engage our senses as church. I think the people of this era had the same questions and so the priests wrote up some rules to say that if they don't sacrifice their offering at the temple it won't be accepted any longer. It was the oldest recorded account of the church weaponizing guilt, shame, and fear for it's own profit. Of course, I very well could be wrong and God could REALLY want these offerings in temple and not in nature, but, I'm skeptical God ever wanted the savage death of so many animals in the first place.
Savage death leads me to point 2A (this really is turning into a sermon) In Leviticus 17 it says that the blood of an animal must be be traded for forgiveness. This is extremely telling for Christians. If we are to believe that this scripture is authentic (meaning God inspired and not priest written) than it would explain the need for Jesus to have died on the cross. It would explain the incredible amount of atonement hymns that came out during the early revival times speaking a great deal about the "precious blood of Jesus." Leviticus is yet another early nod to Jesus. It's also heartbreakingly beautiful for God to reveal the mystery behind forgiveness to Moses and then eventually take it upon Himself.
Anyways, back on track. All of this to say - how do you respond to people that are spiritual but not religious? How do you argue for the necessity (or at least significance) of church? I've always argued that the church is at its best not when we are in worship, but when we are in community. (eccelesia) But my argument falls pretty moot in times of COVID-19. Why is church important to you?
Next Thought - Leviticus 18 (or really any other scripture you disagree with.) Grrr......Leviticus 18. One of the scriptures that has been used time and time again to bar the eligibility and authenticity of LGBTQ persons. I recognize that I have a decent little following on this journey and I recognize that we all feel different about this topic. I'm not going to abuse our time together and abuse my position of power to make a statement here, but I will say that you are going to come across scripture that will break your heart, scripture that will infuriate you, scripture that will make you question God. (I've had a few of you reach out to me about some questionable scenarios already) This is one of those for me. My hope for you is to wrestle with it when it comes and not "throw the baby out with the bath water." There is a great deal about Bible that is beautiful, and wonderful, and awe-inspiring and equal parts of it that are revolting. Even in these moments you can find the whisper of God.
Final Thought - Leviticus 22 is similar to Leviticus 18 for me in that it is damaging scripture. The implication of the scripture is that anyone with special needs or any type of physical defect is no longer made in the image of God and that they are so revolting to God that they cannot come near the temple. This is extremely wrong. ALL people are made in the image of God. Hard stop. So, if you know someone with special needs or has some type of physical defect please look past this scripture. This was written by a priest who had his own insecurities. This is NOT God inspired text.
God, I ask prayers for myself. You know my heart, both the wonderful and the not so wonderful things it harbors. Mighty Lord, I also ask for prayers for others that are reading the Bible with me in these difficult times where we can't study it together. Lord, help me to feel their triumphs, bend my lips to a smile as you fill my head with all the good you've been doing to my sisters and brothers at Chagrin Falls UMC. Compassionate God, help me to also feel the hearts of those reading this journey with me. Help me to feel their pains, their questions, their worries and make them my own. Help me to have the faith of David who proclaims victory in the Psalms even when my heart is much more like David's heart. In your most gracious and holy name I offer this prayer, Amen.
Personal note: We are caught up again and the lessons should be coming out at 6AM each day as I can work ahead again. However, in the next coming weeks it is likely that a few more mistakes will happen. For one, I am officiating a wedding for the next 3 weekends leaving my time at a computer pretty limited and with rehearsals I can't work ahead for the weekend on Friday like I prefer to do. Secondly, McKinsie and I are closing on a house today (Oct 20th) and will be moving in early November. I imagine my life is about to get wacko with the move and the early house stuff in ways I can't prepare for. I appreciate your grace as mistakes come and I truly, truly, am so blessed by the ways you have shared you have been blessed by this journey. May God continue to speak to you and bring you and your families closer in these difficult times of social isolation.