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Much Midrash

December 6, 2013

“Yemenite Beit Midrash”, acrylic on canvas by Geula.

It’s been a fun adventure for the past few years to pursue ‘midrash’, an ancient Jewish practice celebrating multiple interpretations of Biblical texts.  And the experiment has borne some beautiful fruit.

On a larger scale, I’ve been honored to collaborate with one of my literary/homiletical heroes Russell Rathbun at his website The Hardest Question.  This unconventional preaching resource has garnered a huge following of preachers and worship leaders, and it’s been thrilling and a bit scary to post there three times a year.  Alas, the publishing house that has underwritten the site will not be funding it in the future, since the 3-year Lectionary cycle is now complete.  It should be no surprise that Russell’s commitment to midrash will continue over at Question the Text .  I’m excited to continue in the collaboration at QTT, though I’ll miss the excellent editorial skills and general good cheer of David Schoenknecht.

All of this shifting of energies has created a kind of ‘perfect storm’ of midrash for a few weeks as the former site continues on and the newer site starts up.  This week, you can compare my take (well two, actually) on the Lectionary to that of Russell and Rev. Mark Stenberg over at QTT.  When it comes to midrash, truly, the more the merrier.

In a more local way, though, it’s been great to see how midrash serves local communities of faith.  This past week at Common Table, we had two preachers giving their take on Advent, but also gave opportunity for everyone else to chime in.  The service outline has been posted on our tumblr blog, and I love the way in which the members of the congregation will completely contradict the message of the preacher(s).  That’s a beautiful and healthy thing, and it’s rooted in deep ancient wisdom.

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