This past Sunday, while we were passing the peace, the man who was our lector for the day grabbed me and said “There’s no Old Testament reading in the bulletin!” Oh how nice it was that someone in the congregation actually cared about the fact that there was no Old Testament reading! Oh how nice it was that someone in the congregation actually realized we usually have an Old Testament reading! I was proud. The reason for his concern was that, instead of the usual first reading from the left half of the bible, there was one from the book of Acts. During the Great Fifty Days of Easter, the first reading comes from this book rather than from the OT, so while he was correct in his assessment, there was no need for alarm because there was no misprint.
I MISS THE OLD TESTAMENT READING!! Ok, there, I said it and it’s pretty much out of my system. Sort of. How long, O Lord, how long until it returns? Trinity Sunday which is several weeks away but oh boy, is it ever a long one when we get there! The entire first chapter of Genesis plus a few extra verses. Yes!! However, even though I love it, I suppose there’s some good stuff in the rest of the bible, too. [she said with a wink]
So between now and Trinity Sunday, we are in the book of Acts a while longer. (Texts are all here. Acts 17:22-31, 1 Peter 3:13-22, John 14:15-21) Paul is at the Areopagus this week, aka the Rock of Aries, aka Mars Hill. Not really Paul’s most successful revival from certain perspectives. Interestingly, this was the spot that ancient mythology said the pagan god of war, Aries was put on trial for the murder of Poseidon’s son. Hence the name Rock of Aries. Later it was renamed by the Romans for their god of war, Mars. Paul goes to the hill named for gods of war to preach about the resurrected God of life.
Jesus is doing some of his crazy Johannine talk in the Gospel lesson. The world doesn’t see the Spirit but we see the spirit. He’s leaving but he’s coming. Now you see me now you don’t but you will see me even though they don’t see me. I’m in the father and you’re in me and I’m in you and I’m in a state of confusion. You know, it is easy to get frustrated with the disciples when they do stupid stuff and don’t understand some blatantly obvious things Jesus is teaching them, but I’ve got to cut them some slack in cases like this. All I can do with this text is hold on to that one phrase that sticks out to me: because I live, you also will live. Now that is some pretty good stuff.
And then there is First Peter which is almost entirely about baptism. Which is great for lots of reasons. Of course because baptism is itself pretty cool, but also because we are having a baptism on Sunday! This text has all kinds of good stuff about Noah and Jesus and death and life and resurrection and all kinds of good things. For Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, in order to bring you to God. Yeah, I’ll take that! Maybe, even if there isn’t an Old Testament lesson, there’s still some good stuff to be had.
So if it’s the hill of the pagan gods of war or our little sanctuary here in these mountains of peace, God is giving us life. Amen to that!