When I was a boy I had difficult eating my vegetables (especially Brussels sprouts). However, as I’ve grown up a little I now find most of them quite tasty and appreciate how good they are for my health (except I do still have trouble with Brussels sprouts).
As Christians, we often find the books of the Old Testament to be the vegetables of the Bible—we know that they are good for us, but they are something we have to learn to like. These books were written a long time ago and many of the ideas and assumptions in them are very foreign and even offensive to us today.
This Term at St. Mark’s we are looking together at the third book of the Old Testament, the book of Leviticus, which contains the religious laws of the people of Israel. Leviticus is definitely the ‘Brussels sprouts of the Bible’. A recent survey among Christians conducted by the Bible Society in the UK ranked Leviticus as their least favourite book in the Bible. Leviticus is difficult, obscure, with no real story to speak of and addresses situations that appear to have no relevance to our lives today.
However, in the same way as I have learnt to appreciate vegetables as I have grown up, studying Leviticus in recent years has been one of the most transformative experiences of my Christian life. Inside this difficult book I found a vision of a complete life centred on the presence of God. Leviticus actually speaks to us very clearly about what it means to intentionally live as the people of God in the world that he has made. What we find in this book is an invitation to make a home for God in our heart and our community, and to experience the blessing that comes from living with him. And we will see that many of the symbols and hopes in Leviticus can help us to make sense of what Jesus came to do, as he fulfilled the vision of Leviticus and called Christians to live it out in a deeper and more radical way.
So, I invite our members to eat our Brussels sprouts together this term and enjoy the benefit of learning from our brothers and sisters in ancient Israel, who have a lot to teach us.