Monday, November 16, 2020

Bible use/misuse

Thinking about that spider story, purportedly from the Bible (last post), I can't help but think back to past days when going to church often meant carrying a Bible.  I remember jokes in the 50's and 60's about the bigger the Bible you carried the holier you were!  And some people did carry big Bibles!  It was certainly encouraged in my youth and teens with the express intention that when the Scripture reading was announced you located the verses and followed along.  And, then, most importantly when the preacher began speaking, Bibles were open again so that the sermon's exegesis helped open up the text in front of you.  

At its best, this meant that in a piece of Scripture God freshly spoke to you.  We were sometimes encouraged to make underlinings and keep accompanying notes. But at its worst, it would raise awkward questions about key points missed or other bits skated over. And, I suppose, whether a story about spiders was even there!  Today, obvious Bible carrying seems less, though scrolling the Bible on smart phones works for many.  Clearly churches with screens carrying the text have substituted using your own. However, attentiveness to open Scripture while listening to sermons often seems missing.

Preparing next Sunday's sermon I realize how attentive Bible readers would have given me a much harder time in the past.  My text is Revelation 21: 1-8 - God's promise of a new heaven and a new earth.  Looking back I see that I have preached a sermon 'The Overcomers' with delight in God's glorious vision for the future.  But, to my horror, I chose only Rev. 21:1-7.   Anyone with a Bible open when I was preaching would have noticed how I had missed verse 8 with its judgement ending in the 'fiery lake of burning sulphur.'  It's obvious why I stopped short!  Who wants to hear about judgement?  My preaching was aimed positively for Overcomers.  But God's project big picture holds together love and justice.  So that's why right now I am preparing this sermon firmly including verse 8.  And calling it: God's project big picture.

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