The Tapestry of Human Experience (February 2, 2012)

…Opening To…

The Bible is a harp with a thousand strings. Play on one to the exclusion of its relationship to the others, and you will develop discord. Play on all of them, keeping them in their places in the divine scale, and you will hear heavenly music all the time. (William P. White)

…Listening In…

During the days when the judges ruled, there was a famine in the land. A man with his wife and two sons went from Bethlehem of Judah to dwell in the territory of Moab. 2 The name of that man was Elimelech, the name of his wife was Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Chilion. They were Ephrathites from Bethlehem in Judah. They entered the territory of Moab and settled there. (Ruth 1:1-2; context) (a bit of family history)

…Filling Up…

Yesterday, we talked about the order that the Jewish faith uses for the books of the Hebrew Scriptures. It is different from the Christian order in that the former is categorical and the latter is chronological. One isn’t better than the other – they are what they are. However, looking at the texts of the Hebrew Scriptures from the perspective of another religious group is a profitable way for followers of Jesus to challenge some of the assumptions we may have about those texts.

As students of the Bible, we have the responsibility to imagine the texts speaking to their original times and also to relate the same texts to our own time. The Holy Spirit is integral in this process because the Spirit continually breathes new life into the old stories, giving us the opportunity to hear, learn, and digest them for ourselves.

One of the amazing things about the Hebrew Scriptures is that, within the three broad categories, there are so many different ways that people encountered God. If you take a survey of the various genres of writing across the texts, an intricate tapestry of human experience with the divine emerges. There is prophecy, poetry, correspondence, sermon, song, vision, legal code, genealogy, novella, advice column, propaganda, shopping list, architectural schematic, ritual guideline, transcribed campfire story, fish tale, and family history. And those are just the ones I can name off the top of my head.

The people of the Hebrew Scriptures encountered God in all of these varied ways. If we enter into their stories, we can discover the truth that God infuses every facet of our lives as God did theirs. And in this, we can celebrate God’s presence.

…Praying For…

Dear God, you encountered your people Israel in many and varied ways. Help me to discover the ways that you are present in my life so that I can participate more fully in your movement. In Jesus Christ’s name I pray. Amen.

…Sending Out…

I leave this moment with you, God, grateful for your presence throughout time and space, as recorded in the Bible and lived in my life.

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