St. Thomas Memorial Episcopal Church
“Two Testaments, Same God, Or, Samaritans, Prophets, Fire from Heaven: Revisited”
II Kings 1:1-17 and Luke 9:51-62
It was the fall of my senior year of high school. It was “Bring your Bible to school day.” I really didn’t want any part of this. The last thing an anxious, young public schooler needs is to be known as the Bible thumper. But, at the same time, I felt guilty about not participating. I think someone pressured me into it, but I also wanted to prove to myself that I wasn’t ashamed of the gospel—that I wasn’t ashamed of Jesus—so not only did I bring it along, I put it on the top of my stack of books. It’s only one day I told myself. What could go wrong?
It was first period. My Calculus teacher had finished her lecture early and I was waiting for the bell that liberated my classmates and me from the clutches of rule and order for a mere six minutes. As we waited, my best friend—who sat next to me—who I had been talking to about the Christian faith for… forever, saw my Bible and picked it up. He plopped it open and read the first passage he saw… What did he read the Sermon on the Mount, the Parable of the Prodigal Son, John 3:16?… No. My friend happened upon the conquest narrative of the book of Joshua. If you don’t know that story, suffice it to say it’s one of what are known as the ‘hard sayings’ of the Bible. A passage most Christians aren’t rushing to write on cardboard signs and hold up at football games. The last place I’d direct a curious young spiritual seeker.
I was frustrated. My friend, who had been witnessing to and praying for, was further turned away from the faith. The bell rang. My six minutes of freedom in between periods were ruined. “Bring Your Bible to School Day” was a complete failure. I remember thinking to myself, “Lord, why? Here was your chance. Why didn’t you plop open the book to highlight how good you are? Why would you open the book to the Old Testament and not the New?”