It took a year to read the Bible, then almost 9 months to read the Apocrypha. Now, I'm going to try to offer reflections on the Narrative Lectionary. But, I won't be posting daily--at least, for a while.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Offerings, a Reflection on Romans 12:1-8

The center, physically and metaphorically, of the Torah is Leviticus. Think of it as a kind of confirmation manual (with thanks to John H. Hayes' essay in The New Interpreter's Study Bible).

This book begins with seven chapters giving instructions for sacrifices. The animal you offer should be without blemish. Bring it to the entrance of the tent; the priest will take over there. Bring offerings even for unintentional sins. Also offer sacrifices for thanksgiving

Paul said, "Offer your own body as the sacrifice. Offer not only your body; offer yourself, all of yourself. Not just once, giving an animal to the priest and thinking you have accomplished what you came to do. Offer your body, your time, your effort. And your body includes your mind. Use that mind to figure out what God wants, not what the world seems to think is more important."

In this definition of sacrifice, Paul is echoing Old Testament prophets:

"'What to me is the multitude of your sacrifices?' says the Lord; 'I have had enough of burnt-offerings of rams and the fat of fed beasts; I do not delight in the blood of bulls, or of lambs, or of goats (Isaiah 1:11)'".

"For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt-offerings" Hosea 6:6).

Boring & Craddock, in their People's NT Commentary remind us that the "you" Paul uses is plural. Paul is still talking to "y'all." Paul is talking to the organized community of folks called out from some other kind of life.

I'm struck by the "one body" part. I get the metaphor. But, I am even more impressed with the "members of one another." I am not sure what to do with this metaphor, but I am going to think about it some more.

Paul listed the kinds of gifts that were needed in the church of his day. Consider how timely his analysis still is: prophecy (he's not talking about fortune tellers); ministry; teaching; exhortation; giving; leading.

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