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The Book of Leviti…

February 16, 2011

…sorry, I already fell asleep.  I meant to say the title of this post is, “The Book of Leviticus: A Fresh Approach.”  But, I’m not even sure that is accurate.  How about, “The Book of Leviticus: An Approach.”  That sounds better.

As one fellow blogger recently put it: “Leviticus is that graveyard where read-through-the-Bible-in-a-year plans go to die…”  And it’s true.  It’s a hard book to get through because it isn’t narrative, it isn’t poetry, it isn’t a gospel, it  isn’t prophecy; it’s law.  It’s about as exciting as sitting down with a nice cup of joe and a brand spankin’ new copy of the IRS tax code.

Moreover, it is likely more offensive to us as modern day Christians than the tax code is!  After all, Leviticus is that book so oft-cited by those who oppose same-sex unions (I’m not at all convinced that what we think of as same-sex unions and what Leviticus is talking about are the same thing, but that’s another post for another day).  We don’t even want to hear about the book because it calls to mind all those negative feelings!

But there it is, it’s in the Bible.  And we as Christians believe that the Bible, all of the Bible, is given to us by God.  So, what do we do with it?

One church recently embarked on an experiment to live out, in spirit if not letter, the laws of Leviticus for a month.  Some things they couldn’t do because most municipalities don’t take too kindly to animal sacrifice no matter what religious goal you’re trying to achieve.  There’s an interesting article on their experiment here. You’ll be surprised at some of the things they discovered.  For example, as the article points out, God doesn’t like mold anymore than  you or I do; in fact, God is so interested in mold that he goes into detail about what kinds of mold bother him.  God also apparently doesn’t care for zits.  As the blogger wrote, if she had heard a sermon on that text as a teenager, she would have been mortified and likely never returned to church!

So, why am I talking about all of this?  Well, this Sunday, our Old Testament lesson comes from the Book of Leviticus and I’m tossing around the idea of preaching on it.  I was encouraged by the article I linked to above, where it said that the principle finding of those who were crazy enough to try to live levitically for a month was this:

There is nothing too big or too small that God does not care about it.

That doesn’t mean it isn’t a messy book to try to read and interpret in this day and age.  That doesn’t mean it isn’t fraught with problems for us.  That doesn’t mean it isn’t challenging – but nobody ever said it would be easy, right?

Fr. Ryan+

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