Lev 19:7-18 9/6/2017
Eat and be well – but you share with him no food. James asks, “What good is it?”
What’s the meaning of this – “love your neighbor”? The do’s and the don’ts put some flesh on it. And in truth, it’s harder to plead ignorance when things are clearly written down.
It’s all maturity. In my infancy the prescriptions were necessary. We all come out of the womb entirely focused on ourselves. My needs. My desires.
But the possibility that makes us authentically human is this other: Love. Her needs. Her desires.
To care for the other. To take the responsibility to care for the other. To lift them up. To bind up wounds. To visit in prison.
Empathy is a freedom; a skill developed. We don’t come out this way.
In my mind. In my thoughts. In my intuition – I experience it.
And once I have, I know what to do.
And this is the beginning of the greatest freedom.
Lev 18:24-19:6 9/5/2017
Our sins affect the earth.
At once the most obvious of ideas, and yet one of the most radical.
What I do affects the earth – affects the quality of the earth. I can sin against the earth.
I have sinned against the earth.
I thought it was just me. My secret sins.
The whole earth is defiled.
The enlightenment has taught us to want to know everything and to want to live forever. It sonds accusational, but it’s just what we humans do. It’s what we can do.
But my sins affect the earth. And the earth won’t forever accept the nonsense. Like every nursing mother knows – this can’t go on forever.
It’s time to grow.
It’s time for me to grow up.
Lev 18:10-23 9/4/2017
All these details about what I can and cannot do in relationship to other people.
It’s interesting that I need to be told. It’s interesting that my conscience doesn’t inform me without itself being first formed.
I tend to think it’s all about me. I feel the constraints on my liberty. I can’t do whatever I might do – whatever I desire to do.
It’s about the other. It’s about the community.
The call of Christ is the call to temper ambition in exchange for the commonweal.
Lev 17:11-18:9 9/1/2017
The best life is achieved through obedience to God’s decrees.
God loves you and wants you to be happy and successful. He takes no joy in your sorrow or your pain.
The challenge is that we have our own ideas and strategies concerning what will make us happy. Too often, these don’t lead to real happiness.
It’s a staccato droning: find something to satisfy, find something to satisfy, find something to satisfy. The veneer of temptations is itself driven by a deeper hope for satisfaction.
Augustine – a man who cultivated appetites of his own – said, “My soul is restless until it rests in You”.
A narrow path. But you can find it.
Lev 16:34-17:10 8/31/2017
No matter where the Israelites lived, they were only to sacrifice at the tabernacle.
Blood sacrifice is a communal act. It is mediated by priests. It is thus, unmistakable.
It is singular.
My motives are never pure. No matter how much I look to Jesus, I still find myself squinting to see my own reflection in the pupils of His eyes.
The Israelites would struggle with this for a thousand years – and even when they thought they finally had it figured out – they remained proud and rebellious.
There is the authentic and the expeditious. God has shown us.
So remember in the bustle of today: Your spiritual journey is less about efficiency and more about authentic reception of what has been given.
Lev 16:23-33 8/30/2017
No working. No eating.
In humility and reverent reflection comes the Day of Atonement.
We quiet ourselves in order to allow ourselves a moment to relate to God in confidence and purity.
The possibility of this moment isn’t merely that we are forgiven of the sins we have committed, but that we become aware of the sins we might commit and want them no more.
The possibility of this moment is that we could live ever present in atonement and rest.
Lev 16:15-22 8/29/2017
So this is where the term comes from.
The transference of guilt and shame. All the trespasses of the people placed on the head of the scapegoat.
Is this what Caiaphas meant when he advised, “that it was better that one man should die rather than the people”?
There is a certain convenience in recognizing that Jesus was destined to die for my sins. It is unacceptable.
Like Bonhoeffer, I have to admit there is something divinely counter-intuitive here.
The hope of freedom requires that we see this sacrifice for what it is: A cleansing toward freedom of the freest kind.
Lev 16:3-14 8/28/2017
Purification through animal sacrifice.
The life is in the blood. Blood is viewed as the medium of precious life. Like the distinction between essence and existence; this is the existence. This is the aliveness.
And that’s the nature of the sacrifice.
Blood. Something has to die in order for its aliveness to be offered.
Something in me has to die in order for the divine to empower me to offer myself.
My imagination of who I am; my vain processes for getting pleasure and control; my lame disposition for taking more than I receive – these have to die.
This is an offering.
Lev 15:24-16:2 8/28/2017
Aaron cannot enter the holiest place whenever he wants – but only at an appointed time.
Being successful with God has to come on God’s terms. It’s not some divine egocentrism, it’s the nature of the situation.
You want relationship with God. That’s the goal.
He dwells in inapproachable light. That’s the challenge.
You have to act as a response to the knowledge that He has acted first.
Those well-intentioned things that you’ve been putting off though you know deep in your heart they are what God would have you do, do that first. Do it today.
Lev 15:12-23 8/24/2017
You can’t bring your filth into the presence of the Lord. There is no shame in this. Our bodies sometimes produce uncleanness – but under the law of Moses, it is unacceptable to force this uncleanness upon God, who is entirely pure.
Likewise our hearts. We need God. We need stuff. Born in sin – we have our ways of trying to get the things we are sure we need. But our strategies for “getting” aren’t necessarily God’s ways. They don’t come from faith. They are not born by trust.
In our natural self, we can’t help it. We have our strategies and programs for getting what we want. Most of these do not require God’s assistance. In this sense, they are unavoidable filth.
Bringing these strategies into God’s presence doesn’t move God – but it can hurt us. God can’t be compelled to embrace the filth. It’s not intransigence.
Light destroys the darkness. Water washes away impurity.