What would we call our sacred text if we did not call it the Bible? We read from this text at least weekly, trying to glean instruction, validation, encouragement, hope, and a host of other reasons, but what does it really mean to you? There are so many ways to define this book. How many of those definitions are reflections of what we would like this book to be for us? How would you describe the meaning and purpose of this text in your life, and what difference does it make for you? What name would you give it if not the Bible? I suspect that each of us would have a slightly (or significantly) different answer, but all would combine to make a composite picture of this sacred text.
As human beings, we want to read the words in the Word and create "-ologies" and "-isms" to believe in and follow religiously. But the text is, in places, more basic than that, passages that are just words to live by, like Luke's (and Matthew's) instructions to love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, pray for those who persecute you, and do unto others as you would have them do to you. These seem like very simple directives, but the practice is radical. These ideas go beyond keeping a tally, returning measure for measure, but transforming your entire way of being. Radical love, the kind that does not keep score, the kind that offers a helping hand to the stranger, instead of a closed fist or emotional, mental, or physical barrier, saved the world in the past, saves it now, and will save it in the future, if we have the courage to look beyond the "-isms" and ideologies of ourselves and others.
Sunday Spoiler: Matthew and Luke have very different settings for a very similar message. What difference does it make in Jesus' delivery for the same message to be taught on a mountain or on "a level place", a plain? What is the significance of Luke's exhortation for mercy (as opposed to Matthew's instruction of perfection).
~Rev. Andrea Joy Holroyd