I am never one to pass up a good challenge. My good friend and one of the co-creators of The Slate Project, Sara Shisler Goff, is blogging about the Old Testament Lesson from the Daily Episcopal (TEC) Eucharistic Lectionary. (Yeah, not sure why there is a daily office lectionary and then this eucharist one). Since the OT or rather the First Testament doesn’t get a lot of play (why do most preachers stay in Second Testament aka New Testament or mainly the Gospels all the time?), Sara is reflecting away about this texts and I will be joining her.
So, today’s text is Deuteronomy 30:15-20:
Look here! Today I’ve set before you life and what’s good versus death and what’s wrong.If you obey the Lord your God’s commandments that I’m commanding you right now by loving the Lord your God, by walking in his ways, and by keeping his commandments, his regulations, and his case laws, then you will live and thrive, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess. But if your heart turns away and you refuse to listen, and so are misled, worshipping other gods and serving them, I’m telling you right now that you will definitely die. You will not prolong your life on the fertile land that you are crossing the Jordan River to enter and possess. I call heaven and earth as my witnesses against you right now: I have set life and death, blessing and curse before you. Now choose life—so that you and your descendants will live— by loving the Lord your God, by obeying his voice, and by clinging to him. That’s how you will survive and live long on the fertile land the Lord swore to give to your ancestors: to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
“For the secret of man’s being is not only to live…but to live for something definite.” ~Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov
This is a motivational piece of one of Moses’ sermons. In my mind’s eye, I imagine him standing on a cliff, looking out over the Promise land delivering these words to numerous Israelites standing behind him in anxious anticipation. Oh and true to where and when I was raised, I imagine Moses as white with white hair and beard. In his sermon, Moses gives the Israelites a lot of advice– like admonishing them to do what is right, follow the law, and choose life.
As I read this text, the words that captured me were”choose life.” For an instant they felt like loaded guns as I immediately thought of Pro-Life protestors and their huge signs/photos. I quickly tried to dismiss this image from my head, as I am pretty sure Moses didn’t have this in mind. Though I am sure on the inter-webs I would find quite a few pro-life sermons using these “scriptural” words. So, what does it really mean to choose life?
Choosing life isn’t passive or static thing. Moses’ heartfelt words “Choose life” is about aligning yourself with God’s creative and redemptive work. Choosing life means getting your hands dirty and helping/partnering with God to heal or mend this broken world. Choosing life means standing against individuals, groups, and perhaps even governments that are not working towards peace and justice.
~Choosing life for my 10-year-old daughter means standing up to one girl in her class that continually pokes fun of her and others. ~Choosing life for my 8-year-old daughter means sharing her lunch with one friend whose parents can’t afford to send her a lunch and who “doesn’t like the school lunch.”
~Choosing life for my 2-year-old son means trying to share his Mater truck and expressing his frustration when it doesn’t always go as he thinks it should.
~Choosing life for me means mending relationships, listening to stories (even when I think I know what is going to be said), sharing out of what I need rather than just out of excess.
Everyday we are presented with opportunities to choose life. How are you being asked to choose life today?