Last fall, our congregation presented Bibles to some of our elementary school kids. This is a longstanding tradition here, to provide each child of reading age with their very own grown-up Bible.
When we hand out the Bibles, I always call the kids forward and tell them that it is a special gift from their church family, because we think it's important that everyone have a Bible to read for themselves.
In my Century lectionary column for this week, I wrote about Zephaniah 1 and 1 Thessalonians 5, with their shared theme of the “day of the Lord.” Zephaniah’s account is particularly fearsome, and it serves as important background for the medieval liturgical text “Dies Irae.”
I chose to focus on these passages because they are hard to hear. Initially they seem so alien, and yet on second reflection, their scenes of destruction are so terribly familiar.
“You might think,” I told a group of high school students gathered for “Service Day” at our church’s community meal, “that we have to deal a lot with scarcity here. We are trying to feed 250 people a week entirely from donations. But the truth is that our bigger problem is often how to deal with abundance.”
I pointed at the table where we had put donations that came in from a nearby Whole Foods: strawberries just about to rot, packages of guacamole, gallons of milk, cartons of organic yogurt, and dozens of loaves of bread.