This fall, the teaching team at Roots will join with other pastors, teachers, and bishops from the wider body of Christ in listening for what the Spirit is saying to the whole Church through the holy Scriptures. Specifically, we will be using the Revised Common Lectionary to structure our teaching.
For those who aren’t familiar, a “lectionary” is a calendar of biblical texts that guide the worship of churches. The Revised Common Lectionary is a calendar of biblical texts shared by Anglicans, Baptists, Methodists, Lutherans, Mennonites, Presbyterians, and several other traditions.
The Roots teaching team has examined the upcoming texts in the lectionary and discerned a common theme that we believe is both timely and important: God’s Loyal-love.
God’s ‘Loyal-love’ is a modern English translation of the ancient Hebrew word: hesed. Hesed has also been translated as ‘steadfast love,’ ‘loving kindness,’ and several other ways. The reason there are so many different English translations is because hesed is a complex concept. It encapsulates God’s commitment to Israel as well as God’s love toward them. It also combines God’s mercy with God’s justice, like in Exodus 34:6-7, one of the most repeated passages in all of the Bible. There, God’s loyal-love leads God to forgive people of their sins. But God’s hesed also leads God to hold people accountable for their sins. Yet, these two characteristics of God’s loyal-love aren’t equal at all. God’s mercy and compassion far exceed God’s judgment. The comparison in the text is ‘thousands’ to ‘three or four.’ God is far more gracious than God is punitive.
One of the primary ways that Scripture shows us God’s hesed is through ‘mighty deeds.’ The lectionary readings throughout the fall revolve around God’s liberating and sustaining presence in the life of Israel. It begins with God’s rescuing of the Hebrew people from Egypt and continues on through the story of God’s leading them to the ‘promised land.’ The lectionary texts overlap this liberating story with songs of praise written and sung by Israel in the Psalms. The lectionary also guides us toward passages in the New Testament which speak of God’s loyal-love, particularly in the Gospel of Matthew.
At a time of such great uncertainty and fear, the Spirit seems to be calling the whole Church to turn our eyes toward the character and mighty deeds of God to stir up our faith and ground us in God’s love.