After engaging with scripture in a pretty significant way for a number of years now I'm always amazed that any text, any pericope (a word we preachers use to refer to a passage from the bible) or any biblical book is virtually an inexhaustible source of inspiration, challenge and wonder. That's why, of course, we refer to the bible as the Holy Scriptures.
Both the Hebrew Bible and the Christian New Testament went through a process called canonization, a word derived from the Greek word canon, or measuring stick. The list of biblical books that "measured up" and became what we call the New Testament were canonized in the fourth century AD. In the canonization process that resulted in the Hebrew Bible the inclusion of both Esther and Song of Songs was hotly debated because neither of those books ever mention G*d by name.
I preached at St. Alban's yesterday and the funny thing is, the sermon that I ended up preaching wasn't the one that I had set out to write. I had decided early in the week that the text that I would base my sermon on was the one from Genesis in the Old Testament - the call of Abraham. My early reading and exegesis of that text led me to outline a pastoral sermon about how God calls us out of barrenness and into wholeness, or peace (shalom in Hebrew), reflecting on how that call might relate to our hopes for St. Alban's Church.
Alas, by the time I finished writing the result was an edgy sermon calling into question the motivation for Abram's departure from Haran and a critique of Israel's conquest of the land of Canaan. In retrospect the first sermon that I had in mind may have been easier on the ear than the one I ended up preaching but if I were to have done so I would have had to abandon the place that wrestling with that passage actually took me, or at least the place they led me last Saturday. What I mean by that, and the reason why I love the Holy Scriptures as much as I do, is that both of those interpretations of Sunday's reading from Genesis - the pastoral as well as the prophetic - are embedded within the same text.
On this second day of the second week of Lent, happy Monday, holy reading... and a good song:
Blackbird has spoken, like the first bird
Praise for the singing, praise for the morning
Praise for the springing fresh from the word
Sweet the rain's new fall, sunlit from heaven
Like the first dewfall, on the first grass
Praise for the sweetness of the wet garden
Sprung in completeness where his feet pass
Mine is the sunlight, mine is the morning
Born of the one light, Eden saw play
Praise with elation, praise every morning
God's re-creation of the new day