Lent begins on February 22nd this year – close enough that we might start thinking about it and far enough away that planning is still possible. Last year, I gave you a list of Lent readings and an idea, but this year the plot is a little more straight forward.
I want to read Matthew. And I want to read it with others. So, with that in mind, the first thing I did was buy a commentary. “But I Say to You” by Leith Fisher. He was a Church of Scotland minister and a member of the Iona community, and this commentary was finished shortly before his sudden death in 2009. I first came across Leith Fisher’s hymns, and I liked how he puts familiar words together in surprising ways. I thought he could be a good companion through Matthew this Lent.
Judging from his bibliography, Fisher shares company with a wide range of people – from W. H. Auden and Alice Walker to Thich Nhat Hanh, J.K.Galbraith, and Soren Kierkegaard. It will be interesting to hear those voices, too, as part of the conversation. Helpfully, Fisher divides the gospel of Matthew into 40 readings, so that will work quite nicely over the 40 days. I haven’t quite thought through the Sundays yet – Sundays are extra days during Lent and don’t “count.” My Sundays tend to be quite full so maybe I should just take them as days of rest from reading. Spend some more time with the family.
Not that they are going to be excluded from this project. I want to do a bit of the reading with them, specifically with Beangirl. I’d like to hear what she has to say about Matthew.
I wonder what she will wonder about.
Fisher suggests a text marking system that I think might be useful for the two of us.
? – anything that puzzles you
X – anything that you find difficult
! – anything you find surprising or see in a new light
√ – anything that makes you say ‘yes!’
We’ll keep notes. I’ll let you know what bits we read and how it goes.
And this is where you come in. I want to read Matthew with you, too. I will post the readings here each week and a bit of my thinking about the passages. I’d love to add your thoughts, too. Or your kids’ thoughts. You can do this in a few of ways. If you blog and do a post about Matthew, send me word and I’ll share the link. If you’re a photographer, send images that connect to the themes. Or send banner designs. Or poems. Or youtube links to songs. Or… I wonder how multi-faceted we can make this Matthew read-along. Just include a chapter and verse reference from Matthew with your material, and I will include it on the Messy Table in the appropriate week.
Send me a note via the comments section below to let me know that you would be interested in contributing, and I will get in touch to work out the details.
You can also respond more traditionally using the comments section below the column, and create conversation there about the readings. I’ll be reading Fisher’s book, but feel free to use any commentary you find useful. Or just share your thoughts on the text itself.
I’d love to hear what you think.