Wednesday, May 18, 2011


I just finished Week 40 of my quest to read the bible from start to finish in a year. I've taken to reading the designated section weekly; it takes about an hour. Week 40, incidently, is the week when we move from Zechariah in the Hebrew Scriptures, to Matthew in the New Testament. I have intellectually understood the transition, but experienced it for the first time today. Many of us are familiar with the narrative - creation, covenant, Torah, monarchy, exile - however a large part of the Hebrew Scriptures are comprised of prophecy, of the people dealing with exile and God's promise of restoration. Isaiah through Malachi is eleven weeks, 20% of the year, with page after page of emotional pleading. Pleading with God to remember the covenant and restore the nation, and pleading with Israel to remember the covenant and return to obedience. Through the whole narrative is God's promise of redemption and restoration, but the overwhelming sense is yearning. Yearning for a world made right, a world as God intended it to be.

With that in mind, I finished Malachi and began reading Matthew. My anticipation was unbelievable. I knew that the time was upon us to see the promised redemption. I can only imagine how difficult it was for God's people to wait 400 years. Even as I am reading Matthew (this week ends following chapter 9), I know the ending, but I am now noticing that Matthew works up to his revelation. He calls Jesus Messiah in verse one, but the narrative clues people in slowly - probably because Jesus' details were a far cry from what the people expected.

I wonder how often we miss the sense of longing - as we live in a world being made right, but one still tremendously at odds with God's created purpose. Do we experience Christ as a joyous gift or as a past event? Everything in the Hebrew scriptures is about renewal and return, and Jesus is completely about resurrection and redemption. Have we given up on seeing our world transformed? Have we given up on the great hope Messiah brings?

I think it is important to find ourselves within the story and not at the end of it. Just because the narrative happened in the past does not mean it is finished. We relive these stories every day and its imperative to discover each twist and turn anew as we live them out in our various contexts. The story of God's work in the world is still unfolding - and we must embrace it recklessly.

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