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On your lips and in your hearts

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Seventh Sunday after Pentecost
July 11, 2010

Deuteronomy 30:9-14

“The word is near you, on your lips and in your hearts.”

To many Christians, these words may seem very natural. One strong current of Christian spirituality has brought the word/Word near, with hymns on our lips, scripture in our ears in bible-reading and our liturgies, and the Word made flesh in-corporated into our bodies in the communion meal. To an insider, these words sound familiar, comforting.

Yet we may miss the anxiety surrounding them, and the challenge they are spoken into.

The text presents these words as part of Moses’ last testament, his charge to the people he has led out of slavery and through the wilderness. As they end their wandering and prepare to enter the promised land, a new commitment is needed. Many scholars have also seen this text as part of the Book of the Law discovered in the Temple walls during the reign of Josiah (2 Kings 22).

In each case, though, the words are addressed to a people facing major…