Tuesday, 17 May 2016
The Inspired Word of God
I find it interesting and annoying when the lectionary leaves out certain passages from the appointed readings. Last Sunday the reading from psalms was psalm 104: 25-35, 37b. I have attached a copy of psalm 104 for you reference. The part that was left out of the appointed reading is “36 Let sinners be consumed out of the earth, and the wicked be no more. 37 Bless the Lord, O my soul.
I understand the desire for those who put together the lectionary to leave out this part. It is not nice to think of the writer of Holy Scripture having such ungodly thoughts as wanting God to damn sinner and to wish the wicked to be conveniently gone from the earth. However, I really object to the whitewashing of scripture to make it fit their desire for everything to be nice and lovey-dovey. As much as we would like it to be, that is not life and that is not how people are. We have nasty thoughts and wish for God to condemn to the outer darkness our enemies and others who don’t fit our idea of how people should be. Dante must have had a great time placing those whom he didn’t approve of in the various circles of Hell. I must admit that some of those people certainly seemed to be deserving of that fate.
I must confess that I didn’t read the appointed psalmody when I prepared my sermon. However, this idea of avoiding inconvenient scripture fit well with stated my wish that a certain Republican politician in the United States would be brought low by God. That being said there are many parts of the Bible that are inconvenient for those of us who have a liberal view of theology and of God. A good (or more appropriately a bad) example is 1 Samuel 15: 1-3 (a note to that politician; it is First Samuel not One Samuel):
Samuel said to Saul, “The Lord sent me to anoint you king over his people Israel; now therefore listen to the words of the Lord. 2Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘I will punish the Amalekites for what they did in opposing the Israelites when they came up out of Egypt. 3Now go and attack Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have; do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.’”
A rather inconvenient and challenging view of a God who desires a whole nation to be blotted out from the face of the earth. It is easy to say, “that is not the God that I believe in”. And it is not. But if this is our Holy Scripture the inspired word of God we can’t hide it in the closet like some dark family secret that we agree not to talk about. These inconvenient passages can challenge our understanding of scripture and our understanding of God and or God supposed greatest creation; human beings. We need to grapple with these passages and explore the historical critical context for scripture and what that understanding means for our attitude and relation to others today that don’t fit our idea of what a “good” Christian and a “good” God is.
As a closing I want to add that reading from psalms included the excluded passage in both services yesterday. May God Bless to all us sinners and all those wicked in God’s world today (note that I am not ready yet to include myself among the wicked).