Today's Gospel reading gave another illustration of how, in an attempt to make the Bible a bit more gentle, the lectionary used in our church usually deletes references that might imply God's wrath or judgement.
The reading for July 7, Seventh Sunday after Pentecost (Proper 9): Luke 10:1-11,16-20
1 After this the Lord appointed seventy others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go.Okay, wiping the dust off your feet and saying that the Kingdom of God has come near is a mild sounding judgement, but hear what the omitted verses had to say,
2 He said to them, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest.
3 Go on your way. See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves.
4 Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and greet no one on the road.
5 Whatever house you enter, first say, “Peace to this house!”
6 And if anyone is there who shares in peace, your peace will rest on that person; but if not, it will return to you.
7 Remain in the same house, eating and drinking whatever they provide, for the labourer deserves to be paid. Do not move about from house to house.
8 Whenever you enter a town and its people welcome you, eat what is set before you;
9 cure the sick who are there, and say to them, “The kingdom of God has come near to you.”
10 But whenever you enter a town and they do not welcome you, go out into its streets and say,
11 “Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet, we wipe off in protest against you. Yet know this: the kingdom of God has come near.”
(Note verses 12-15 are omitted)
16 ‘Whoever listens to you listens to me, and whoever rejects you rejects me, and whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me.’
17 The seventy returned with joy, saying, ‘Lord, in your name even the demons submit to us!’
18 He said to them, ‘I watched Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lightning.
19 See, I have given you authority to tread on snakes and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing will hurt you.
20 Nevertheless, do not rejoice at this, that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.’
12 I tell you, on that day it will be more tolerable for Sodom than for that town.Fortunately for us we heard verse 12 today, but I suspect that many churches weren't so lucky.
13 ‘Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the deeds of power done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes.
14 But at the judgement it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon than for you.
15 And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? No, you will be brought down to Hades.
I assume that the Lectionary committee thinks that the Sunday morning crowd shouldn't be exposed to talk of wrath, judgement, condemnation, and (heaven forbid) Hades! I guess they decided that such things are the things that turn people off about Christianity.
Now, there is no rule that you can't bring your own Bible into your Episcopal church and fill in the blanks for yourself every Sunday, and some Episcopal churches actually have Bibles in the pews (can you believe it?). In fact I think we should do a poll of Episcopal congregations and see how many keep Bibles in the pew racks. I believe St. John's Shandon in Columbia is one in our diocese that has them. Are there others?
An alternative, as has been suggested in comments made here after previous postings on the subject, would be to just go ahead and read the missing verses as they were meant to be heard.
Wouldn't that be a novel idea?
"If our religion is something objective, then we must never avert our eyes from those elements in it which seem puzzling or repellent; for it will be precisely the puzzling or the repellent which conceals what we do not yet know and need to know." C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory.