“Eat this scroll,” the Lord directed the prophet Ezekiel. It was a provocative image for the prophet, one which reflected his experience of being fed by God’s Word. Many generations later, when Jesus was tempted in the desert wilderness, he rebuked the tempter with God’s Word: we do not live by bread alone. Daily we are fed, nourished, provoked, encouraged, beguiled, by the Word of God at work in our lives.
Many of you know of the Book of Faith Initiative, launched by the ELCA three years ago. It was a churchwide effort to encourage biblical literacy across our churches, a way of engaging the Bible as the first language of faith. It’s hard to describe what the Book of Faith Initiative has become:
–It’s a conversation among churches and individuals about how and why we read the Bible.
–It’s a wide network of excellent, easily accessed, published resources, on-line and on paper.
–It’s a discussion across generations and cultures about who we are as Lutherans, what makes us disctinctive in the Christian landscape, and why we persist in thinking that reading the bible in our own languages whether in church, our own homes, with our families, with each other, formally and informally, is one of the greatest gifts of the Reformation. Reading and/or hearing scripture was a foundational practice of the Reformers; engaging the Word is a foundational practice for any disciple of Jesus.
That being said, the point of this blog entry: Our New England Synod held a Book of Faith Festival, in New Britain, Connecticut. Our gathering was one among many that are happening all around the country. My daughter, for example, attended one held by her Southwest California Synod. We compared notes on the two events, which were similar.
Below are some of our conclusions.
1). We wish more people knew about the Book of Faith Initiative. We have a number of people at St. Paul Lutheran who know about the Book of Faith, but many are unaware of the reason for the Initiative. My daughter’s church had ten people go to their Synod event. It was a long drive, but mobility in California is a little different than mobility here on Cape Ann. Our Synod will continue to hold regional events, so that more people in each conference will learn about the resources.
2) The on-line resources for bible study through the Book of Faith and Luther Seminary are wonderful. Dr. Diane Jacobson, who spoke at the New England event said, “Luther Seminary has a charism for websites.” In our church, Joel Swan and Rob Claypool are good contact people for learning to use those resources. Rob started a conversation on Book of Faith, and he also uses Luther Seminary’s Enter the Bible. Check out this link.
3). Our third conclusion: No matter how much we learn and read and study the Bible, there’s always more there, more that unfolds, more to unpack, and ponder. The scriptures are a precious treasure, yeilding different insights as we employ different approaches and interpretive tools. Reading or hearing the Word is always an adventure in faith seeking understanding.
4). Our experience of worship each Sunday is profoundly transformed when we’ve listened to, or read and prayed with the scriptures for that week ahead of time. It makes a huge difference in worship. All of sudden, one realizes that every hymn, the sermon, everything we do in the langague of worship is biblical. Sunday worship becomes an immersion experience in the Word, a dwelling in the Word.
Truly, we don’t live by bread alone. Eat the scroll, figuratively speaking, of course. Ruminate, chew the Word. It will feed your life.