Monday, October 2, 2017

Scripture take one

Eugene Peterson once wrote that giving a Bible to someone and telling the person read like giving a 16-year-old the keys to a car and saying, "Drive it."  There are several reasons for this.  First, Scripture evokes and elicits a variety of reactions/responses.  One story can comfort us...the very next can challenge us to the point of frustration...the very next can just leave us confused.  That kind of emotional roller coaster can leave us weary and wondering, "What in the world."  Second, Scripture longs to be communal.  From the moment the stories of the Hebrew Scriptures were shared out-loud around the fire to Sunday mornings, there is something about these words that cannot be read as isolated individuals.  Our Jewish ancestors would sit around discussing, even debating Scripture.  Luke tells us about a precocious Jesus staying behind in the temple to talk with rabbis about the faith.  Third reason is that the Bible is (as C.S. Lewis once said), a book for adults.  These words are challenging and force us to face glaring issues we'd usually would rather ignore.  Issues like racism, slavery, objectification of women, and treatment of others.  At the same time, a thread throughout the pages of Scripture is welcoming the stranger and sojourners and those who were set apart.  Finally, Scripture was set in a different day.  When my kids look pictures of me as a kid in a Smurf shirt and denim shorts with a mullet hair style...they laugh. But they don't understand...I was trying to be cool.  Emphasis on the word, "trying"...success is never guaranteed. 

Every time we open the Bible, we are peering into a world that is distant.  Yet, Scripture writes about deep issues of the human condition.  We know the laments of Psalm 22..."My God how can you forsake or leave or desert me??"  We know that love makes a difference and can cause us to want to set aside our own lives.  When my kids are sick or in pain, I would gladly take that suffering and struggle on to relieve them. 

Part of the problem with how we approach Scripture is that we tend to think that we already know how to read it.  We believe that because the words are in English we should be able to fully comprehend.  But this isn't some manual or textbook or even a novel.  Scripture is something else.  And part of Scripture always remains out of our grasp...just as we don't fully know ourselves or another...there is something in these faithful words that are elusive. 

When we open the Bible it is an offering and opportunity.  An offering of our own selves to engage and encounter these words.  And it is an opportunity for God to enter into our mind, hearts and soul.  Offering of ourselves and opportunity to be embraced by God.  I encourage you to find your Bible.  Hold it.  Open it.  Engage it.  And talk to others about what you are reading.  Not every story can sing or soothe your soul...but there is a beautiful art to reading Scripture.  That is why Luther talked about Sola Scriptura...on Scripture alone.  I pray we can reclaim this reformed notion to nourish our faith in these.

Grace and peace ~~

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