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by Steven Rodriguez
Who are we to put limits on the speech of God?
My kids are absolutely riveted by the book of Leviticus right now. We are reading it at bedtime because my eight-year-old son Cædmon insists that we read the Bible in order.
Leviticus has that reputation of being one of the most difficult and tedious parts of the Bible, but my son and daughter find it fascinating. I think they are drawn in by all the sensory descriptions: blood, fire, incense, tents and vestments, clean and unclean, animals with their hides and hooves and entrails. This is no airy philosophical treatise. It’s all so bodily and tangible and pulsing with blood and breath. But the bodies don’t replace the spiritual realities. No, they relentlessly point beyond themselves.
The book crackles like a Geiger counter as humans inch closer to the terrifying holiness of God. And the questions these kids ask, the mysteries they turn over: “What’s ‘reconciliation?’” “Who is Azazel?” “Why is the priest unclean?” The force of divine command is felt, but the reasons are cloaked in shadows, shadows which compel them to press deeper into the mystery of God, shadows which will only light up much later in the darkness of the cross, the form of Christ’s body, the water and the blood.
Who are we to put limits on the speech of God, or on the body of Christ? These kids eat the same spiritual food and drink the same spiritual drink. I’m not going to tell them that Leviticus is supposed to be boring, because it’s just not true. In their own dark and hidden way, these words breathe life.
Steven Rodriguez is pastor of Lakeview Community Church in Greece, New York.