Daniel, Lectionary, and Hope

In the first year of King Belshazzar of Babylon,
Daniel had a dream and visions of his head as he lay in bed. Then he wrote down the dream
~ Daniel 7:1

Each week, Bethany, like many churches, uses the Revised Common Lectionary in order to choose the readings for Sunday Worship. This calendar of readings was released in the early 1990’s, and has readings for a three year cycle. And honestly for the most part, I love the lectionary. It removes my own worry that I might cherry pick a Bible verse to preach on because it’s easy or because it’s my favorite.

The lectionary helps to pull me as a preacher out of my comfort zone.

But sometimes it leaves out big pieces of the Scriptural story. And that drives me crazy.

Because this week, the Old Testament reading is Daniel 7:1-3, 15-18, leaving out verses 4-14 and 19-27. Basically the lectionary leaves out the entire vision that Daniel has and its interpretation.

And maybe it’s too complicated or difficult to dive into the nuances of Daniel’s apocalyptic visions in a Sunday sermon, I understand that, but I think sometimes we can lose the whole picture and it’s that artistry that can breathe life into our Scripture.

The book of Daniel can be confusing, it’s apocalyptic and sort of weird, but it also gives us an insight into how ancient Israel understood God working in the midst of oppression, without even mentioning God very much. Daniel’s visions were meant to give hope that unjust and cruel rulers would be toppled.

These concepts can be a bit foreign to us, in the US, we’re not exactly living under the kind of slavery and oppression that Daniel and the other exiled Hebrews were living under. But maybe we can find hope in these weird stories from Scripture, a hope that shows us that God speaks the language of God’s people.

For Daniel it was the language of apocalypse, and maybe for us, maybe for you, the language that God is using in the midst of injustices in our world, is a language of love and hope.

That’s the language I hear, the language I know, and the language from God I hope to share.

What language is God speaking to you today? How is God giving you hope? How are you sharing God’s Word with others?

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