It is my hope that having listened to the scriptures, you feel disturbed. What a good thing, to be disturbed by the scriptures. How many times can you hear the beatitudes before your brain starts to file it away in a box labelled “Hippie Jesus—Free Love—You Get the Idea“? There is something about the lectionary today that ties us to the chair. There is no easy answer. There is no escape route. There is no “nice” way to interpret this.
“Throw this useless slave into the darkness outside, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth”?
“For to everyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich”
“From the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.”
Look friends. Here is the deal. We can do mental gymnastics to make sense of these scriptures in the context of the loving God that we know and have experienced. And if you come to Sunday Word and Worship tonight on Zoom, I will tell you about some of those. But first, we have to acknowledge that these scriptures have been used by men (in particular patriarchal, white, upper class, cishet men like myself) in order to maintain and normalize evil.
I am sure that you can imagine two different scenarios in two different congregations:
In one, much like the congregation here at SU, you will hear the preacher attempting to apologize—that is, to make a defense of—the scriptures. The priest will add context and commentary that soothe our disturbance and allow the scripture to fit into our understanding of a loving God.
In the other congregation, you might hear the preacher using this parable to subtly or not so subtly defend patriarchy, capitalism, and white supremacy.
To be completely frank. I have never witnessed this. Or if I have, I have blocked it out. But I know it’s out there. In fact, I can guess that it’s out there in this country on the scale of roughly 70 million individuals, many of them fellow Christians.
We must reckon with the ways we’ve used and abused scriptures like this in our churches. With how Christianity is complicit in systemic injustice.
So the questions I’m left with today as I begin to wrestle with the scriptures are these:
What do we do with scriptures that seem to perpetuate oppression? Can we ignore them? Do we have a duty to defend them (with all the work that entails)? How do the scriptures challenge all of us today?
~ Nate Ross, B.S. in Biology, Class of 2021