Rich Paxson

“… an Old Testament story that has made you queasy or uncomfortable and explain why.”

Last Saturday our small Episcopalian parish had its lector and intercessor training. Since I do both the Sunday readings and the Prayers of the People at the eight o’clock service, I attended the training; which emphasized practical aspects of engaging and keeping the attention of the audience in the pews.

Our Rector did a good job keeping our attention, saying scholars built the lectionary so each Sunday’s readings reflect a common theme. Recognizing Sunday themes, the rector told us, would enhance our abilities to better engage and keep audience attention.

The Episcopal lectionary does not include the story I share here that makes me “queasy and uncomfortable”, which is the Ai Massacre in Joshua, Chapter 8. Neither is the Ai Massacre in the Lutheran, Roman Catholic or United Methodist lectionary. The Ai Massacre tells a story of utterly reprehensible violence. Not even the Revised Common Lectionary covers it.

The Ai Massacre follows the lynching of Achan. Israelite warriors butcher all of Ai’s residents, hang its king and this time are allowed to take booty. How does this story substantively differ from today’s news of Islamic State atrocities in the Middle East? When Sunday lectionaries overlook violent stories in Christian tradition like the Ai Massacre, that selective ignorance encourages the audience in the pews to see Islam, for example, as reprehensively violent as opposed to a purely peacemaking Christianity.

The Ai Massacre: http://bible.oremus.org/?ql=296532740

Here’s a hyperlink for what’s in, and what’s not in Sunday lectionaries. The web page reflects the Episcopalian lectionary. Download the spreadsheet for an analysis of five Sunday lectionaries.