It’s Tuesday, the day I meet with my lectionary study group, a collection of colleagues who gather once a week to look at the passages from the Revised Common Lectionary assigned to the coming Sunday. We’re UCC, so no one is going to be cross with us if we depart from the schedule, but we generally stick with it. I like the Lectionary. Maybe it’s because I grew up Baptist and didn’t get a liturgical year to speak of, and I’m trying to make up for it. I know that in the early and mid ’90’s my friend New York Native (mother of #1 Son’s friend, Mr. Know-It-All) exposed me to a lot of her family’s Jewish practices, and I came to appreciate the flow of the seasons and their reflection in religious rituals.
Most weeks, some theme that is appropriate to my context, and in fact often necessary to it, arises from the readings. Some weeks, though, I wish I could do something else. I wrestle with the passages, and I feel I’m losing. I moan about the passages. “Oh, that Paul. He’s so irritating!!” “I don’t think that was one of Jesus’ better moments.” “What in the heck do you suppose that could have meant?”
Usually those are the weeks I most need to preach from the lectionary.
Is this one of those weeks, or is it one of the rare times that the need in my context outweighs the value of following the calendar?
Next Tuesday is Election Day. In my ministry I haven’t been particularly political. Last fall I hoped most of my congregation was voting for—well, let’s just say I hoped they weren’t voting for the incumbent. But that didn’t feel like an appropriate thing to be handing down from on high. This year we have a ballot issue that I have spoken about, and the question in my mind is whether or not to speak to it again.
The ballot issue is an attempt to repeal an amendment our legislature made to the Maine Human Rights Act earlier this year. It expands protection from discrimination to include sexual orientation. It is not a marriage amendment, and in fact it specifically states that this expansion does not include marriage rights. The amendment gives recourse to GLBT people in Maine if they should experience discrimination in education, employment, public accommodations, housing or credit.
The effort to repeal the amendment has been driven by so-called “Conservative Christians.” They managed to get a question on the ballot asking if citizens wish to repeal the amendment to the Human Rights Act. It will be Question 1 on a ballot consisting primarily of bond issues. And the answer I would like people to give? “No on 1.”
I preached about it on the first Sunday in October, just after our statewide denominational meeting, at which the delegates voted overwhelmingly to support the efforts of the “No on 1” campaign. I felt I had said my piece on this subject and didn’t want to club people over the head with it.
But today I attended a rally on the steps of our State Capital, convened by our Maine Conference of the United Church of Christ, and I was disheartened to see absolutely no local TV or radio presence there. A newspaper photographer was there, and he was gathering his own copy, so I assume he was not even a reporter.
When the other side speaks, everyone is all over it. Why is it that Christians seeking justice are not a story?
It’s all about context this week, I think. And that brings me back to the lectionary. Is there a case to be made from the texts that they reflect their context and we must respond to ours? If you’re working with the lectionary this week and have any thoughts, let’s talk about it here.