January 31, 2013
Another one of the personal and professional goals that I have set for myself this year is to be more intentional about what I’m reading. I do love to read. But sometimes, between what I read for sermon preparation and Bible study, it’s hard to make time to read other things that I enjoy. I want to, first of all, be more faithful in having my own personal time for scripture reading and meditation. I found this wonderful book called, In the Sanctuary of Women by Jan Richardson that is inspiring me to consider even more deeply my calling, not just as a minister, but as a woman. And Psalms for Praying by Nan Merril has been a wonderful guide for starting my day with a psalm.
I recognize the need to stay immersed in scripture and other writings that stretch me and strengthen me and motivate me and comfort me. And I look at Jesus as my model. In our sermon text for last week (Luke 4:14-21), we looked at how Jesus must have been well-versed with the scriptures in order to stand and read them in the synagogue. It wasn’t the same back then as it is today. Today, any of us can be anywhere we want to be and read a passage of scripture from any number of translations, and even if we have never read it before, we can understand the language and begin to understand something about it. In Jesus’ society, the scriptures were only available in the synagogue and they were written in Hebrew. But the people spoke Aramaic, which meant that for a person to stand and read in church, they had to already be familiar with what they were reading.
I think sometimes we take for granted the gift we have of being able to read and interpret scripture for ourselves. I don’t happen to be one of those people who believes God actually “breathed” every word of scripture and that it is therefore perfect and infallible. But what I do believe is that within the scriptures that we call the Bible are a wealth of good, teachable stories about God and the people who have journeyed imperfectly in faith with God. These same scriptures remind us, as Jesus went on to remind his hearers in Luke 4:21-30 (which we will cover in worship this week), that this God shows no partiality in who can be included in God’s kingdom or love. This God lives and moves among us in such amazing and surprising ways that for us to dictate to others how to live or who’s welcome in God’s kingdom is to reject the very essence of who God is as revealed to us in the scriptures.
Unfortunately, this was the very mindset that Jesus met when he preached in the synagogue. The people were so angry that he would suggest that God’s table could be so inclusive that they took him out to throw him off a cliff. Why is it that we often reject the messenger and the message of the very thing we need most to hear? I think I’ll keep reading. Who knows what I might learn. I hope you will, too. Maybe I’ll see you on Sunday when we can read the scriptures together.
Love and Grace,