Pastor Bob’s July Message

Dear people of God:

The year is half over, which means we are halfway through our reading of the Bible together. It has been an interesting challenge for me to preach on the Sunday readings every week, and I have deeply enjoyed the Wednesday evening conversations we have had.

I did not expect, but am not surprised, that some of you have been disturbed by what you have been reading. The Bible has a lot of challenging material in it. For some, the sexism (from our point of view) implicit in the most ancient stories is upsetting. Many are troubled by the amount of violence in the oldest stories. I am so accustomed to old stories that violence in them doesn’t disturb me; I tend to expect it. I forget that we are living in an age in which we expect society to be peaceful and we expect international relations to be peaceful; for most of human history, that is not how things were.

What I need to consider most, however, is how many of you are troubled by the portrayal of God in much of the Bible. God not only sanctions violence but demands it; God appears almost irrational in the reaction to events and people; some of God’s favorites do horrible things. I’m not going to try to explain, rationalize, or harmonize here: that is too big a job for a message in a newsletter. What I will ask of you is that you express your thoughts and feelings: ask me questions, tell me what’s going on with your faith, invite me to pray for you.

I have never complained that people ask me too many questions about Faith or the Bible. I have complained – more than once! – that people ask me more questions about the air conditioning than they do about Faith or the Bible. I’ll try to be proactive and do some more public reflection about this as I can, but again I invite you: be in touch. My main purpose is not keeping the organization running; my main purpose is teaching you the Christian Faith.

Pastor Bob