I’m looking back on Matthew, trying to find the common core, the lesson learned in the reading, and all I have is that Matthew writes as if summarizing stories his reader will be familiar with. The things that I used to love when I told the stories of the New Testament are all missing. The Christmas story is brief and uninspiring to me when I want that same magical call that I have always gotten from reading of the Son sent here to redeem the people. The Easter story didn’t have that magical glow of the fulfillment of the curse, the ultimate defeat of the enemy that I have always felt reading it.
I have read both of those stories since I left my life as a missionary. I taught at a Christian school for several years after I left missionary work. I taught Advent, the slow build up of the lights until the Light of the World entered the story on Christmas day and Lent, the slow diminishing of the light until on Good Friday the Light of the World was blown out, only to light up, brighter than before on Easter morning. And I’ve felt the magic of it every year.
Perhaps my life between the last time I taught it and now have taken that glow from me. Perhaps it is one more thing that I lost in the years I spent losing myself. Or perhaps it simply isn’t found in Matthew, in the summaries of the stories.
What Matthew held for me were two individual verses, one, I wrote about yesterday and one that has always stuck with me. The greatest commandment, the first commandment, and a “second like it”; “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind….You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:37-39)
And now, now we move on to verses I’ve never read to “treasure in my heart,” verses I’ve read academically, searching to understand, but never read to find a greater truth. Now a new experiment begins for me.