Uncomfortable Words

We have returned now to what some churches call “ordinary time,” a designation more to do with the numbering of weeks than a plain or mundane time. Rather than celebrating a particular event or season, each Sunday in ordinary time is a celebration of resurrection—which isn’t so ordinary after all.

After Easter readings from Acts, Luke, and John, we return to the Hebrew Bible and gospel of Matthew. This month we read passages from the first half of the gospel; some are lengthy, some very short, some ignore divisions that most scholars recognize, others skip verses in the middle of a passage, some are collected sayings of Jesus, and others narrate scenes of action. All of them disturb me.

As a child I puzzled over these words from the Anglican Book of Common Prayer: “Hear what comfortable words our Saviour Christ saith to all who truly turn to him.” This month’s gospel lections seem to be composed instead of uncomfortable words, words that assail us where we are most complacent. The portrait of Jesus and his call to discipleship is harsh and challenging. Ongoing action, radical inclusion, obligatory hospitality, divided families, and life-changing welcomes all call into question the divisions and barriers we use to define ourselves and to keep ourselves safe.

Laurel A. Dykstra is a scripture

and justice educator in Vancouver, British Columbia.

www.laureldykstra.com

June 1

Just Do It

Genesis 6:9-22, 7:24, 8:14-19; Psalm 46; Romans 1:16-17, 3:22-31; Matthew 7:21-29

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Sojourners Magazine June 2008
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