We live in an increasingly Biblically illiterate culture. The well-worn stories of Mother Becca’s flannel board don’t hold the same significance in the hearts and minds of those under 50 as they did in generations past. Passing references to Noah, Abraham, or Paul don’t ring in their ears the way to do for me, but of course, that’s because I took a vow to study the Bible on a regular basis. At best, 21st century America’s Biblical knowledge can be described by the image above – pithy statements that don’t actually say what they mean, but make us feel good as self-actualized capitalists.
This proves difficult when, on the 51st Sunday of COVID-tide, we hear the Genesis story of God’s covenant with Abraham and Sarah, Paul’s very socially-defined explanation of that Covenant from Romans, and Jesus’ brief sermon on discipleship from Mark. All three scripture passages require significant explanations of backstory and social context. Here, when so many of us are exhausted, with our last bit of imaginative energies focused on a second pandemic Holy Week, we’re asked by the Lectionary to do some careful study before we lead our congregations down the path of supercessionism or the danger of a highly individualized faith wherein me and my Jesus carry my cross, and your way of living out your faith will most likely make Jesus ashamed of you.
Perhaps I’m projecting or overreacting, but on this particular Monday, I’m praying for you, dear friends. As you consider what you might preach, or pray for your preacher, please remember how challenging this is, how seriously we should take this calling, and how utterly obnoxious the RCL can be sometimes.