One Pastor’s Look at Scripture
This week, I am writing the pastor’s cmail devotional while Pastor Mike is enjoying a week off. I do enjoy this. For those who don’t know I seriously like reading alone, reading publicly, researching, studying, and teaching our Bible. It is my belief that there is never an end to finding something I’ve not noticed before. Maybe even more joyful that pecan pie, a baby’s laugh or two hummingbirds fighting for the feeder. So, let me talk today on the Holy Scripture of the Hebrew and Christian faiths.
I recall a sermon I gave awhile back here at Christ UMC on the most powerful three letter word in our language. I let it be known before so people could ponder what it was. Some asked, “Is it sin?” Some said, “Is it God?” To both I said, “No, be at worship and you’ll see.” Of course, sin and God are powerful parts of our lives and our faith. But the sermon was about “Why.” Now why do I think that “why” is so important?
In the ancient world few people could read or write. There were many things happening which they could not understand. Why did the rivers that were so important to living sometimes turn into horrible floods? The elders passed on remembrances from previous generations about Noah and the great loss of life in a flood that could not be explained on their own. So, they looked to the voices and words of someone greater and determined that there must be a God who sent that flood. Then through several generations of elders and younger men and women, they began to ask, “Why, why God such destruction?” And so, the elders told them what they learned from their elders about the task God gave Noah and why it was necessary. Then the elders said, “We have not seen this God, but we should say thanks, maybe offer something important and worship this God.” So, they decided to do that. But what should we offer? Should it be something not useful, like an old goat maybe to burn on a large rock? Why should we offer something of value to us? Or should it be like the other tribes over there who burn their children in worship? Then the elders told them about the time when their ancestor Abraham was told by God to burn his son. God said, “No, no. Offer up the best lamb you have, and I will know you respect me and will always worship me.”
Do we begin to see how the need for understanding would answer some of the many difficult situations? Some things we do not understand easily. But decade through decade and century through century we wonder about one item or another and ask the why questions. Why do we have wars? Why can’t we cure cancer? Why do have so many destructive hurricanes? Why did my child die so young? Why did my boss fire me and make it hard to feed my children? Why did my grandmother die of tuberculosis? There have been many questions answered by great scientists and researchers.
Stop and think about experiences of your age group that the next younger does not understand. I was in ninth grade when at school we heard that President Kennedy was murdered. Why we all wondered? When I was in seminary in the 80’s we where wondering where AIDS came from. Why did so many die? Why did the planes crash into the towers in New York killing so many so quickly? We all know about Pearl Harbor and the great depression of the 1930s. Those events are part of our history. Every century has many tragedies that are serious to be remembered by those of that generation who asked “why” then and passed their experience to the next generations.
It is my hope that we see the Bible, the great words God has given us as they happened over many years. Scholars believe that most of the first written Old Testament appeared about 500 years before Jesus’ time. The earliest of God’s books in the New Testament were written about 20 or more years after the Resurrection and continue until about 100 A.D. But they were not put together for some time and were not legal until about 300 A.D. or more. Since then translating into every language possible is worthy, even though some words get changed. Why is it so complicated? I believe it is because God loves us enough that we are encouraged to take the Holy Scriptures and read them, not casually like you would with some easy magazine. Read them with the richness that God wants us to know and love. Take the wisdom of about 4,000 years and spend some studying time with the Bible. It will grow your faith like you can’t imagine.
Thanks for listening,
Blessings from Pastor Bob