I fell in love with this week’s texts all over again. (It surprises me every time I am moved by anything from Leviticus.) The emphasis on holiness and the need for right actions seem particularly powerful when I hear news stories about violence in Venezuela, Ukraine, Africa, Egypt, Syria and so many more places closer to home. I’m still sorting through my response to these scriptures. Part of my process is often to write them out in my own words which is what I’m sharing now. I’m also working on a pastoral prayer that I might post later. What follows is my wording of the texts.
Leviticus 19:1-2, 9-18
We are holy because God is holy. There is no exception.
We are to feed the poor, the hungry, and the alien because God tells this is right. And it doesn’t matter who these people are or where they come from. We are called by God to offer extraordinary hospitality because this is what God offers to all of us.
Stealing, mistreating, and lying and misusing God’s name are not pleasing to God under any circumstances.
We really are supposed to love our neighbors as ourselves and treat them with respect and fairness. Even more so for those who struggle in body, mind, or spirit.
Justice should outweigh our prejudices and other self-focused inclinations. No one should profit from another’s pain.
Forgiveness and love should govern our relationships with family, friends, and neighbors. We should also forgive and love ourselves the same way. Hatred, vengeance, and grudges lead only to pain.
Teach me, O God, how to live according to your word. Grant me the courage to follow you with my whole self.
Lead me in your way. May my delight and joy be in you.
Remind me that your ways are more fulfilling than any of my selfish desires.
My vanities are trivial in comparison to your desires for me.
May your promise always be in my heart and mind, a promise that touches all who stand in awe of you. If I live in your grace, I won’t be embarrassed or disgraced.
I do long for your ways. Your righteousness really does give life.
1 Corinthians 3:10-11,16-23
The foundation of faith has been laid. I must build with care.
My body is God’s temple and the Spirit of God lives in me. No one should destroy this temple, especially me. I am holy.
My wisdom is mere foolishness when it comes to God’s wisdom. True humility is the healthier path.
All faithful mentors lead back to Christ, to whom I belong.
Be gracious, forgiving, and generous in all circumstances. Probably, most importantly, when it’s very difficult.
Love your neighbors and your enemies. Pray for those who are against you. Good things happen to bad people and bad things happen to good people. To be Christ-like is to live in love even in difficult circumstances.
RCL – Year A – Seventh Sunday after Epiphany – February 23, 2014
Leviticus 19:1-2, 9-18
I Corinthians 3:10-11, 16-23