Today marked the third day of our Summer in the Scriptures reading plan. If you are just jumping into this, you have not missed much. All we are doing is reading one chapter a day starting at Matthew 1 and going through all four Gospels. You can follow along and see other people’s posts on the Facebook page.
One of the things that has struck me as I have been reading this week is how odd it is to read these texts when the weather outside is hot and muggy and there are no Christmas Trees for sale or carols on the radio. We often silo Scripture passages into certain seasons and then when we read them fit them into the same boxes we have always heard them. Reading them in this context brings different things up to the surface.
Instead trees for sale, we are purchasing cloth masks and news reports of protests and racial injustice fill the radio waves instead of St. Nick and Rudolph. This new and different context brought new things to my attention.
What does it mean for us that Jesus was born amid violent killings innocent (brown) lives (Matt 2:16)?
How does John the Baptist’s critique of those who call themselves children of Abraham change how I reflect on the privilege of being a white, wealthy, male in our society? (Matt 3:9)
I am not intending to draw clear cut parallels here, but the work of Scriptural Imagination means that I need to read these texts alongside the headlines and ask where God is in the midst of them.
I think it brings hope to remember that Jesus, born in violence and distrust of systems, is still being born while we as a society struggle through the problems of our era.
I think the ax lying at the root of the trees is not a warning for some generic Jewish leaders, but is also meant for me anytime I fall short of bearing good fruit worthy of repentance.
Throughout all of these reflections, we need to remember that there are voices calling out of the wilderness places, people speaking from the margins, communities seeking to be heard, and the more we listen to what they are saying, the better we will hear what God is saying to us, and the better we will understand where God is calling us to go.
What insights are you finding in your reading? What the voices that we need to be listening to?