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Strange Stories from the Bible

When we started our current sermon series, “Campfire Stories,” I warned you that along the way we would encounter some strange stories, that is stories that are likely unfamiliar or stories that don’t make a typical Sunday School curriculum and are rarely preached in church. I enjoy these stories, not only because they offer a unique challenge for preaching, but because I think they make us think about faith in different or new ways. When the Bible was put together, in the form we have it, editors had to make choices about what was included and what wasn’t included. Among the questions they asked themselves was what benefit did this story, or this book, have for the life of the church? And so, when I come to challenging, unique, or weird stories, I find myself wondering how those editors might have approached such a story. And since they thought it fit to include in the Bible, then I think we’re called to take it seriously, wrestle with it, and perhaps gain a deeper understanding of it. Will and I have been talking about some of these stories lately (yes, we’re nerds and yes, we consider this a good conversation topic). These are Will’s thoughts on such texts, “History and our world today are filled with peculiar events and people. It’s not surprising they show up all across the Bible, too. I love the strange texts of the Bible for so many reasons, not just because I’m a bit of a weirdo myself (though that’s certainly part of it). They stop us in the middle of our tracks and demand we wrestle with them by making us laugh, scratch our heads, or even shake our fists. If we let them, they disrupt our neat, tidy conceptions of who God is and what faithfulness looks like, calling us deeper into relationship with the world and the mystery of faith in a messy world. And I think we should let them do that because God is the God of the unexpected, the wild, the bizarre, and the places that are off the beaten path of life and faith. After all, Job tells us God is the God of the ostrich, the great ancient sea monster Leviathan, and a host of other creatures that don’t make a whole lot of sense if you think about them. There’s no single satisfactory way to read these texts, but we should start by reading them at all – the life of faith isn’t meant to be comfortable, why should reading Scripture be any different? If we take the time to sit with them and let them work on us, then we might learn to ask new questions, gain a new perspective on faith, or even catch a glimpse of how God infiltrates the wild places and nooks and crannies of our lives and our world, however messy that may look.” So yes, there are some weird stories in the Bible. And so, I hope you’ll join us on Sunday as we meet the character of Eutychus. It might be a little weird, but I trust that God will continue to meet us we faithfully gather for worship. Grace and peace, Kimmy (and Will)

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