As I said to the Bible study on Tuesday, “This week we’re going to hell.” Of course, I didn’t mean literally, but this week’s theme in We Make the Road by Walking is “Jesus and Hell.” Both Hebrew scripture and the New Testament use language of judgment and punishment. These are among the most challenging texts in the Bible. I confessed to the Bible Study group that I find Mathew 25:31-46 a particularly difficult passage. How easy it is to walk by or even step over the “least of these” without even seeing. The parable’s punishment for failure to see is particularly harsh.
I don’t think the story’s intention is to scare us onto the “straight and narrow,” but it is a powerful challenge to wake up and pay attention. Luke’s story of the rich man and Lazarus follows a similar trajectory. The rich man’s sin is not his wealth per se; it’s that, day after day, he steps over the destitute Lazarus without seeing him. “Let those who have eyes see and ears hear,” Jesus reminds his followers over and over. I don’t believe that Jesus or God desires that anyone “go to hell.” The challenge, the invitation, is to wake up, to pay attention, to practice compassion and to live love.
In Adult Spiritual Formation, Susan Bradley will be sharing with us from a couple of trips she’s made recently – one to Haiti to teach photography to young Haitians and one to Cuba with a group of musicians. This session may well open our eyes to parts of the world with which we are not sufficiently familiar.
See you Sunday at 10:00 AM. Bring some others along to share the day.
May we continue to grow together as God’s people.