This week's Lectionary passages are PREACHING to me. Unless you read them, particularly the Leviticus combined with the Matthew 5, you probably won't connect with this litany. Those church folks who scheduled the readings really were thoughtful and thorough in their choices, because these four passages are like bells that chime in harmony.
God, we hear you asking us
To extend the bounds of our love,
To consider new groups of people worthy of our regard.
To cast a bigger net.
We are supposed to love widely
To forgive deeply
To share sacrificially
To give generously
Even to those we consider undeserving
Even to those we consider dangerous.
Strengthen us, Oh God,
to follow your ways:
Because loving our enemies is not for the faint of heart (Matt 5:44);
Giving to the poor decreases our profit margins (Lev 19:10);
Welcoming the alien makes for awkward cultural situations;
Caring for the differently-abled is inconvenient (Lev 19:14);
Not resisting evil-doers interrupts our self-defense mechanisms (Matt 5:39);
And grudges are our favorite burdens to bear (Lev 19:18).
We would often rather be normal, nice, politically-correct people.
And normal people don’t do the things you recommend.
But you aren’t asking us to be normal.
You’re asking us to be Kingdom-people.
You’re asking us to live by the law of love.
You’re asking us to lay down our lives
Strengthen us, Oh God, to follow your ways,
And to love neighbors, aliens, and evil-doers as ourselves (Lev 19:18).