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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Today’s Scripture Reading | Leviticus 19:1–2, 15–18

The Lord spoke to Moses, saying: Speak to all the congregation of the people of Israel and say to them: You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy. You shall not render an unjust judgment; you shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great: with justice you shall judge your neighbor. You shall not go around as a slanderer among your people, and you shall not profit by the blood of your neighbor: I am the Lord. You shall not hate in your heart anyone of your kin; you shall reprove your neighbor, or you will incur guilt yourself. You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against any of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord. (NRSV)

Not many people find joy from pouring over detailed textbooks, reading legalese, or what's more, being told what to do. We know we need rules and structure to remain safe, and ensure the safety and well-being of others. That doesn't dismiss the fact that we sometimes disobey laws and rules out of convenience, or even spite. If we're a bit under the radar, no one will notice if we ignore a rule or two.

The Book of Leviticus tells a much different story. It is the rulebook, and lives up to the standard of page turning material that most rulebooks do—hence, most people tend to skip this one.

Today's reading, however, is a collection of miscellaneous laws we could pay more attention to. Most notably, you shall love your neighbor as yourself.

We’ve read this particular sentiment in both the Old and New Testaments, in various contexts, but its weight feels a bit heavier placed in Leviticus. Not only is it something we aspire to, to be Christ-like, but it is directed to us as both a natural and spiritual law.

So if you’re like me, you probably don’t enjoy following certain rules or laws that seem pesky or unnecessary. Leviticus is probably full of them. But, the laws shared in today’s scripture are very different. These laws, like some of those common pesky ones we follow, such as speed limits, are shared for a greater purpose.

Today’s scripture reminds us God has entrusted us to care for one another and welcome one another, above all else. It is the cornerstone of our faith, to love and forgive, despite how uncomfortable, or inconvenient, it might feel at times. Let us always be ready to take on that daily call and challenge.

God, guide us to follow your law of love, and may we always accept and welcome our neighbor without hesitation. Amen.

Written by Jackie Lorens Harris, Director, Chicago Lights Elam Davies Social Service Center

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