the Bible reads me

Hi again

I remember around 12 years ago while at theological college, having an Old Testament lecturer- Douglas, who would often make the point that “The Bible reads us.”  I had never thought of it that way before.  He was absolutely right.  So – fast forward 12 years and I’m putting together a reflection on our local Oxley UC all-age service for this Sunday; theme – The Bible, I find myself reflecting on how the Bible reads us.   Thought I’d offer my words of reflection, acknowledging that a portion of what I share comes from the pen of Eugene Peterson in Eat My Book, as offered in:  http://www.christianitytoday.com/moi/2007/005/september/17.17.html

Here’s what I’ll share this Sunday.  I share it also with you.
Blessings – David 

THE BOOK THAT READS US Hebrews 4:12,13

Writer Hans-Ruedi Webber tells the story of a village woman in Africa who always used to walk around carrying a Bible. One day her neighbours decided to investigate this. They asked her, “Why are you always carrying around a Bible. There are so many other books you can read.”

The woman knelt down, held the Bible high above her head and she said, “Yes, of course there are many other books that I could read … so many. But there is only one book that reads me.” “But there is only one book that reads me.”

Hebrews 4:12
God’s word is living, active, and sharper than any two-edged sword. It penetrates to the point that it separates the soul from the spirit and the joints from the marrow. It’s able to judge the heart’s thoughts and intentions. (CEB)

Around the time of World War One – roughly 100 years go, many scholars had, in the words of Eugene Peterson, “assigned the Bible to academic mothballs.” It was irrelevant to the times, thought many. But then a young pastor by the name of Karl Barth – pastor in a small out-of-the-way village in Switzerland discovered the Bible as if for the very first time. He and those with whom he taught … to whom he wrote, they found its text come alive. This was no ancient book, though literally-speaking it was.

Barth’s audience began seeing the Bible – all 66 books to the Protestant reader – speaking into their lives … their life experience … the world that was unravelling around them. These ancient words were offering a truer account of what was going on in their world than what politicians and journalists and other commentators were saying.

Here was a book not so much with stuff we read about, as if third- person; but perhaps even more so a book that reads me! Barth insisted that we don’t read this book – the Bible – to find out how to get God to participate in our lives.

No. We “open this book and find that page after page of this book takes us off guard, surprises us, with the incredible vigour and energy radiating from its sentences and stories. I draws us into its realty, pulls us in to participate with God on His terms,” suggests Peterson.To mix a couple of metaphors, reading the bible – and I mean reading the Bible; taking our time … doing so prayerfully … well, it’s a bit like holding a mirror before or face. We’re confronted with what we see. Sometimes we’ll feel affirmed by what that mirror reveals. Other times we find ourselves brought up short; we’re not happy with what we see.

So when I read from James:

True devotion, the kind that is pure and faultless before God the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their difficulties and to keep the world from contaminating us. (James 1:27)

… the God of that verse reads me.

When I read from Joshua:

Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve … as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD. (Joshua 24:15) … the Bible reads me.

When I hear the words of Jesus:

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. (Mark 12:30) … the Bible reads me.

When I also hear Jesus say: If you want to be great, you must be the servant of all the others. (Mark 10:43) … the Bible reads me. I could go on.

The Bible – the Bible reads us … or perhaps more accurately, God of the Bible reads us … and reads us from cover to cover!

The Bible reads us … and God of the scriptures … God of all creation … God, the Living Word calls us to the living, breathing, loving expression of that truth.

The Bible reads us – so what do we need to do before anything else – we need to get into the scriptures – and be prepared – we’ll soon be well-read!

Portions of this message are drawn from an extract from Eugene Peterson’s Eat My Book, as in: http://www.christianitytoday.com/moi/2007/005/september/17.17.html
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