Deuteronomy 30:9-14Neighborology: the Word about the Neighbor – Jeremiah / Deuteronomy
9and the Lord your God will make you abundantly prosperous [plenteous, surplus!] in all your undertakings, in the fruit of your body, in the fruit of your livestock, and in the fruit of your soil. For the Lord will again take delight in prospering you, just as he delighted in prospering your ancestors, 10when you obey the Lord your God by observing his commandments and decrees that are written in this book of the law, because you turn to the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.
11Surely, this commandment that I am commanding you today is not too hard for you, nor is it too far away. 12It is not in heaven, that you should say, "Who will go up to heaven for us, and get it for us so that we may hear it and observe it?" 13Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, "Who will cross to the other side of the sea for us, and get it for us so that we may hear it and observe it?" 14No, the word [dabar] is very near to you; it is in your mouth and in your heart for you to observe.
As sometimes happens, the RCL brings us texts closely related to the events of the past week in the USA. First, a relatively rare excursion into Deuteronomy, the covenantal, neighborly – neighborology – text par excellence, very much in the tradition of Jeremiah, despite its long historical sweep.
Deuteronomy is one of the five books of the Pentateuch, Ha Torah, the books of the law. However, rather than being rigidly legalistic, practicing Torah is a fluid, stretchy, flexible enterprise that's always on the side of grace, mercy, love, and distributive justice. Despite its being in the covenantal tradition of Jeremiah, Deuteronomy is compiled from sources that range over about five centuries, from the United Monarchy of Saul, David, and Solomon at least through the Babylonian exile and likely into the post-exilic period of Persian hegemony. Deuteronomy moves beyond theory and ideas to practice and reality, showing us covenantal neighborology in action. Deuteronomy demonstrates Torah neighborology lived out on turf and in time.
Deuteronomy 30:14 "No, the word is very near to you; it is in your mouth and in your heart for you to observe."
Better translation is "the word is very near you in your mouth and in your heart and you will do it." Double meaning of commandment and promise on You will do it.
Neighborology: the Word about the Neighbor – Good Samaritan
The Word for us as Christians? The Word very near us? Baptized into the Word of Life Jesus Christ, immersed in the Word, the word surrounds and engulfs us. The gift of death, the gift of resurrection.
Luke among the gospels uniquely brings us Good Sam: Jesus finishes his capsule description of the commandments that ends with "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself," and the guy jumps in and asks, "but who is my neighbor?" Jesus famously replies, "A man went down to Jericho from Jerusalem..."
Mainly because of the past week's events, I'd planned to open the rest of the time to discussion if it felt right, and it did, so these notes are uncharacteristically brief.