Each week I (or one of my colleagues) prepare sermon starters based on the lectionary that have hunger related themes (check them out and/or sign up to receive them here). For those of you who use the Revised Common Lectionary, you know we have been working our way through the book of Revelation. As I was preparing May 16’s reflections I got grumpy. We are to read Revelation 22:12-14, 16-17, 20-21. Now, skipping over redundant passages or litanies of names or food laws, I understand. I mean who really needs to know who begat whom or whether or not we can wear polyester. I get it. But this picking and choosing in Revelation is absurd (I told you I got grumpy).
The book of Revelation is a tough book. It has some of the most beautiful images of worship, redemption, and hope. It also is incredibly violent and vindictive. What the lectionary has done throughout our journey through this tricky book is to cut out all of the latter. So for the passage in question, Jesus is offering hope and solace and healing. Any of the passages about judgment are removed (read for yourself here). The lectionary is careful not to upset our modern sensibilities.
Now, I am not one who is all keen on fire and brimstone. I don’t really want to know what horrors await fornicators or what plagues will afflict anyone who adds or removes words from the book (note the irony!). But I do think that we are intelligent people who don’t need to be protected from the text (my feminist friends might disagree with me–let me hear your thoughts).
So how does this relate to hunger and poverty? Well, as I so eloquently put it in my sermon starter, “Talking about poverty and hunger can make us very uncomfortable. The statistics are daunting. The solutions are difficult. The whole problem in some or another may implicate you and I somehow. It takes courage to speak about these issues.” Yet it is precisely by speaking about these issues and engaging that discomfort that we can begin to actually bring changes.
So although it may upset us (and those around us!) I think we have to speak. We have to engage. We cannot be like the lectionary.
– David Creech