One of the things my pastors, and pastors before them, have often said is that you should be different on Good Friday than you were on Ash Wednesday. It’s not always easy to do that. The texts tend to be SO familiar that one has a tendency to “mail it in,” theologically. “Oh, yeah, that scripture; I know EXACTLY what that means.” I think, remarkably, that I did not “mail it in” this Lent.
Frankly, I’ve been puzzled by people who look at Scripture as though God handed it down in 17th century English. It was helpful that our pastors have been doing sermons on the Beatitudes (Matthew 5), getting us to look at things differently. Verse 6 is: “God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they will be satisfied.” But the Greek word used for “justice” ALSO means “righteousness”. That’s a very different emphasis, and one can use one or the other, and come to different conclusions; alternatively, one can use BOTH terms and see it yet another way.
I used to see the story of the poor widow in Mark 12 putting in her last two coins as merely as a sign of her fidelity to her faith. But after having read Jesus for President, I can’t help but wonder if the exploitative temple system that drains the woman’s ability to care for herself ticked off Jesus so much that he ends up driving out the money lenders in the previous chapter.
Here’s hoping that, regardless of your theology, that this is a time for looking at the familiar in a new, and possibly challenging, way.