Pass it Along (February 8, 2013)

…Opening To…

If you look at a window, you see flyspecks, dust, the crack where junior’s Frisbee hit it. If you look through a window, you see the world beyond. Something like this is the difference between those who see the Bible as a Holy Bore and those who see it as the Word of God, which speaks out of the depths of an almost unimaginable past into the depths of ourselves. (Frederick Buechner)

…Listening In…

Listen, my people, to my teaching; tilt your ears toward the words of my mouth. I will open my mouth with a proverb. I’ll declare riddles from days long gone—ones that we’ve heard and learned about, ones that our ancestors told us. We won’t hide them from their descendants; we’ll tell the next generation all about the praise due the Lord and his strength—the wondrous works God has done. (Psalm 78:1-4; context)

…Filling Up…

The fifth word that we say quite often when we talk about the Bible is “Scripture.” We call it Holy Scripture or Holy Writ. Each of these words carries the connotation of “something written down.” And, of course, the Bible is written down. There’s very little chance it would have survived as long as it has if it weren’t written down somewhere.

That being said, large chunks of what became the written Bible did exist for quite a long time without being written down. People passed the oral tradition from parent to child. The dinner table, the campfire, the farmer’s field – these were the places the story of God and God’s people was told. Because of this type of transmission, the story went through a kind of survival of the fittest type of evolution: the most important parts remained, while the less important parts faded away.

Writing the Bible down on paper (well, the ancient equivalents of paper, at least) followed a common pattern: things aren’t written down until people start realizing that the folks who know the story best are dying off. In the years following Jesus’ death and resurrection, his story followed the same pattern as those older parts of the Bible, except in a much shorter span. The Gospel was not written down until a few decades after the events because the people who lived through the events began dying off. There was a scramble to preserve the story from the perspectives of eyewitnesses.

So, just because we think of “Script-ure” as something written down, know that the Bible didn’t always exist in that way. It was passed through word of mouth. And you know what: that’s still the best way to pass it along.

…Praying For…

Dear God, you are the presence standing behind the words of your people found in the Bible. Help me to be a part of the great story of your movement in the lives of the people of this world. In Jesus Christ’s name I pray. Amen.

…Sending Out…

I leave this moment with you, God, endeavoring to learn more about you, learn more from you, and learn the best ways to be your child in this world.

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