This week BibleWorm reads the story of God giving the 10 commandments to Israel as told in Exodus 19:1-8 and 20:1-21. We draw out the idea that God has been calling these people out of Egypt and through the wilderness in order to make them a treasured possession among all the peoples of the earth. We think about God giving the 10 commandments to the people—and to us—to show the importance of integrity and fidelity in relationships with God, with each other, and with ourselves. And we marvel at the nature of God—1,000 parts compassion and 4 parts judgment. That’s the recipe for a covenanted life with us humans, who try and fail and try again.
This week BibleWorm discusses one of the most well-known stories in the entire Bible: the miracle of the Israelites crossing the Red Sea as told in Exodus 14:5-14 and 21-29. We talk about Pharaoh’s relentless pursuit of economic profit through the use of military force, and how that singlemindedness leads to the downfall of empires, both in Pharaoh’s time and in our own. We admire the courage of the Israelites, who trust in the possibility of a better future, despite all the evidence, and find themselves birthed again through the waters of the sea. And we remember the Egyptian soldiers and their families, caught up in a struggle not of their own making and mourn the senseless loss of life, both then and now.
This week BibleWorm discusses the story of Joseph in the house of Potiphar in Genesis 39:1-23. We talk about the character of Joseph, an Israelite enslaved in the house of an Egyptian, and the profound vulnerability he experiences at the whims of others, no matter what decisions he makes. And we wrestle with the theology of God’s blessing in this text, since Joseph’s life seems to go from bad to worse even while the text tells us that God has blessed him. And at the same time we recognize the insistence of this text that it is God’s blessing that stays with Joseph in all circumstances. God is with Joseph—and with us—no matter what.
This week BibleWorm discusses God’s blessing of Abraham in Genesis 12:1-9. We talk about the way God appears to Abraham when he and his family seem to have gotten stuck in a city named for his dead brother Haran, encouraging Abraham to continue moving to his original goal, the land of Canaan. We think about God’s command to Abraham to “Go for yourself,” and we ponder the ways that following God’s calling can often be as much about finding ourselves as it is about reaching some external destination. And we talk about God’s declaration to Abraham that “All the peoples of the earth will be blessed in you,” and we wonder whether this might be a good benchmark of faithful living—is the world blessed by our presence or is it not?
This week we’re kicking off Season 4 of BibleWorm with Genesis 6–9, a text that is part children’s story, part post-apocalyptic nightmare: the story of the Great Flood and Noah’s ark. We talk about God’s regret at having made humankind and the challenge of knowing when things have failed and it’s time to start over. We imagine what it must have been like for Noah and those with him to endure many months of uncertainty and then the difficulty of knowing when the danger was finally over. And we discuss God’s movement from violent destruction to covenantal commitment, and we wonder whether we, too, can learn to respond to disappointment with deeper relationship rather than with violence.
This week we conclude our summer series on The Bible and Economic Justice with a text from John 12:1-8 – not such an obvious text for economic justice, but a really important and challenging one. How do we hold together Mary’s extravagance toward Jesus with our moral and practical obligation to use our resources to care for the poor? This text invites us to explore the human need to express a sense of awe and transcendence, and to ask – if we humans could stop amassing resources to ourselves, could we create this beautiful reality of abundance instead of scarcity, where we could give to God and give to each other?
This week BibleWorm continues our series on the Bible and Economic Justice with Matthew 6:7-15, a text known in the Christian tradition as the Lord’s prayer. As we read the prayer through the lens of economic justice, we begin to realize that that Jesus is calling his followers toward a life of simple trust in God. We ask enough food for today, we promise to forgive the debts of our neighbors, we ask to kept away from the temptation of plenty. In this way, Jesus says, God’s name is made holy. In this way God’s kingdom will come to earth—here and now, among us. We don’t need to ask for more, Jesus says, because God already knows this is all we need.
This week BibleWorm continues our series on Economic Justice in the Bible with Luke 4:16-21 and 18:18-30. Why does Jesus tell this man that he needs to sell everything he owns? That’s an awfully high bar. And why is that even harder to do when you are wealthy? We consider the sense of safety and independence that money and material resources offer us, and the ways in which that can block us from ever really, truly needing to trust God or each other. We see the Kingdom of God envisioned here as a life of complete interdependence and mutual responsibility. But boy, do we live in the tension of what this text calls us to do and what we are ready and able to do today.
This week BibleWorm continues our series on the Bible and Economic Justice with Micah 6:6-15 and 7:1-7. Here God brings a lawsuit against the people for treating each other unjustly. They cheat each other with false measures. They bribe judges and officials to render false judgments. They pervert justice to favor the wealthy and the powerful. So what can they do to set things right? Nothing but this: do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with God. It sounded so simple when we sang it in youth group, but in fact Micah calls us to radical obedience to the Torah, creating a just world for the widow, the orphan and the stranger—for the most vulnerable among us. That is what the Lord require of us.
This week we continue our summer series on economic justice in the Bible with Leviticus 19:9-18 and 33:37– a text that asks us to reflect and embody and channel God’s holiness through the economy we create in the everyday world. What if our means of production – our land, our time – isn’t absolutely “ours” in the way we owners imagine? We all know the commandment thou shalt not steal, but what is fairly ours to begin with, and what constitutes stealing? And furthermore, what if this command is not just incumbent upon each individual – How do we create communities where theft doesn’t happen, thereby enacting God’s vision of a holy people? Spoiler alert - it’s not an alarm system.