Sunday, July 07, 2013

No Mo' Woe: More Lectionary Omissions

While this Sunday's worship included the following nice anthem,

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.
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.’
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,
12 I tell you, on that day it will be more tolerable for Sodom than for that town.
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.
Fortunately for us we heard verse 12 today, but I suspect that many churches weren't so lucky.

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


  1. Egads! Read it in its entirety and risk making their target audience a bit uncomfortable? Heavens to Betsy, TEC can not do that! Gracious what do you think TEC is? Evangelical or something? (ok done with sarcasm ;-))

    SC Blu Cat Lady

    PS at our parish we heard this in its entirety! We no longer use the RCL. Thanks be to God!

  2. LOL second word approval was "edgyTec" ;-)

  3. Anglicat10:14 PM

    I'm glad that verse 12 was read in your church. That, by the way, is the verse that the Roman Catholic lectionery includes while omitting 13-15. As you know, Anglicat is no fan of the RCL (in fact, could she be the one who first alerted you to the lectionery problem? Forgive this little conjectural departure from modesty). Still, in this case, I think the "more tolerable for Sodom than for you" covers the point here. The mention of Chorazin, Bethsaida, Tyre, and Sidon would all need to be explained, eating up sermon time that IMHO is better used elsewhere. I give the RCL a pass on this one--and I rarely do.

  4. Anglicat should remember that it was she who instructed me in the power of repetition as used in Scripture to hammer home a point.

  5. I find much disconcerting about the main line church today, and this is but one example. Doing social service minus holding people accountable for their eternal salvation equals socialism and a western Jesus. Some urge, demand change, most are afraid to confront their pastor/priest and or denominational hierarchy.