How do we treat scripture? How do we teach people to treasure it?
Devotional Thought of the Day:
11 I keep your law in my heart, so that I will not sin against you. 12 I praise you, O LORD; teach me your ways. Psalm 119:11-12 (TEV)
Sacred scripture is of the greatest importance in the celebration of the liturgy. For it is from scripture that lessons are read and explained in the homily, and psalms are sung; the prayers, collects, and liturgical songs are scriptural in their inspiration and their force, and it is from the scriptures that actions and signs derive their meaning. Thus to achieve the restoration, progress, and adaptation of the sacred liturgy, it is essential to promote that warm and living love for scripture to which the venerable tradition of both eastern and western rites gives testimony
Yet I was forced; and this was well done towards me, but I did not well; for, unless forced, I had not learnt. But no one doth well against his will, even though what he doth, be well.
Augustine’s comment from my devotions this morning is something I need to think about, as I prepare my sermon for tomorrow. How do I teach people to see the Bible? Do my sermons, and what and how I teach lead them to treasure this incredible gift of God? Or does what I teach and preach cause them to dismiss is, willingly twist it, and allow them to create a god that appeals to their desires, rather than meets the needs of their deepest brokenness?
The same for the scripture that resounds from within our worship – the liturgy which is so full of scripture. Do I facilitate their worship with a passion that honors God as He blesses us through the words He dictated, that He breathed through prophets and apostles, kings and leaders of worship?
If we preach about other than Jesus, if we teach Christianity as a simple set of rules to follow or something that changes from what was written, we dismiss the blessing of scripture. If we treasure theology over the word, we again dismiss the word of God, for the word of mankind. We dismiss the message of His loving-kindness, His mercy, His presence in our lives, which the scriptures reveal. The very treasure that reveals that we don’t need to be God, for He loves us. That real, lasting pleasure comes through His word. That peace is found in Him, and as we live in Him, we realize this incredible blessing, this incredible grace.
Scripture, the word of God, can make us uncomfortable. If afflicts us in the places we need to be corrected, the very place of our brokenness. It confronts our broken and twisted desire for pleasure, our love of self, our illusion that we are truly master’s of our fate. It is hard to learn to love that which hurts. Even so, when we realize the Holy Spirit applies it to our brokenness, even the discomfort is embraced, sure that God’s peace will comfort us, and bring us to wholeness. If we are to find hope for our brokenness, if we are going to offer and provide it to those people we are to care for, where the Spirit reveals it is in scripture. It is there the Lord who is our hope of glory, of life eternal, is found. There what He needs to heal us of is shown, as is the cure, His presence, His blessing of us through His word, joined to water as He baptizes us, as He nourishes us with His body and blood.
Back to the original thought, of teaching and preaching in such a way that the word of God is treasured. That our words portray His word, which He, the WORD, is revealed. That people know this isn’t just man’s words written on paper, proclaimed in our message. It is the word of God, the One who desires to love us, reveals to us that this love has no limits there on the pages of scripture.
If we show them we treasure it, they will begin to as well, and they will do well as they hear it, as they read it, as they treasure His word in their hearts.
As we do this, as we treasure the word that reveals to us the love of God, as we set an example for our people, we shall find that He has answered our plea. That our thoughts and words are acceptable to God, our Rock and Redeemer. AMEN!
Catholic Church. (2011). Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy: Sacrosanctum Concilium. In Vatican II Documents. Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana.
Augustine, S., Bishop of Hippo. (1996). The Confessions of St. Augustine. (E. B. Pusey, Trans.). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.