12-14, 16-17, 20-21
Those are the verses from Revelation 22 that comprise one of the lectionary readings this week. When I see something like that, I always wonder first, what are we avoiding? Babies' heads being smashed against rocks?
So I read the first segment, and it's lovely, Jesus is the First and the Last, and all we have to do to get into the Holy City is wash our robes (huh?), and if you just kept going in the lectionary, you would find yourself amongst familiar images, Jesus as the bright morning star, an offer for living water.
But what do we skip, I wondered, and I sought out the crucial verse between, number 15.
"Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and fornicators and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehoods."
I'm sorry. Did you say the dogs are OUTside?
And if you would like to make the case that it's an understanding from that time, then I would ask you to consider that the whole book is written based on an understanding from those times, and give the entire opus the same weight. Surely, if we can come to understand dogs are not unclean (well, except when they are actually dirty), we can also let go of some of the other ideas that the passage of time and the discoveries of science and the general forward motion of the human race have shown to be no longer acceptable as "truth." Surely we can trust in the general themes of love for God and other and self without requiring the threats of plagues and death interspersed between the gifts and assurances.
It's one of those days I'm grateful to the people who developed the Revised Common Lectionary. For as Dear Helen, who participates in the Thursday Bible Study remarked, "I'm glad they left that out."