When I came here 18 months ago, I said there were three wells from which we must always draw if we are to be transformed and renewed, to be true disciples of Christ. They were: Scripture, Eucharist and Prayer. This Lent, which is also half way through my ministry here, I want to revisit these wells on which we must always draw, and in doing so help us all to have a fruitful Lent. I’ll start today with Scripture. Why do we still read the Word of God? What does reading scripture do for us?
Reasons for reading Scripture
In 2 Tim, Paul gives us 4 reasons for reading Scripture: Paul tells us: “All Scripture is inspired by God and can profitably be used for:
- refuting error,
- guiding our lives.
Paul adds: “By teaching them to be holy, this is how the one dedicated to God becomes fully equipped and ready for any good work.”
So all of us should ask continually: What am I learning right now from God’s Word? What weaknesses in my life is it speaking to? How do I allow God’s Word to guide me? What am I learning about being holy?
The Word in the Old Testament
The Old Testament reminds us that the Word of God is not only written down, but always active in Creation. God’s Word defined the Universe. The opening hymn in Genesis tells us that when God speaks his word, things happen: “And God said…And it was so… And God saw that it was good”. God’s Word is always active and formative in our lives today.
Isaiah expresses the power of God’s Word:
“For as the rain and snow come down from heaven, And does not return there until they have watered the earth,
Making it bring forth and sprout,
Giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
So shall my Word be that goes out from my mouth;
It shall not return to me empty,
But it shall accomplish that which I purpose…” (55:10,11).
The Word in the New Testament
St John speaks of the Word becoming Flesh. The Word we read as Scripture is the same as He who speaks it. No wonder Peter says: “Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life”; (Jn 6: 68). It’s always useful for Christians to have some background, of course: historical setting, geography of the Holy Land; the first century world with its political and religious pressures. But Scripture also speaks to us in our own context: in our present, often messy situations…full of contradictions, injustices and questions.
Types of Scripture
There are six major different types of Scripture:
The Historical books challenge us to see God at work in history and today.
The Prophetic books invite us to uncover hypocrisy and idolatry, and struggle for peace and justice.
The Psalms teach us to bring to God in our questions and our doubts.
Wisdom literature invites to think again about the meaning of a life well-lived.
The Gospels, challenge us to discover who Christ is: a Christ for today, while remaining faithful to tradition.
The Epistles invite us to do what Paul and the other writers did: to struggle to explain the reality of salvation in concepts, ideas and images, so we can communicate to those around us today?
There is no better practice in Lent than reading Scripture every day. Reading Scripture daily, perhaps at set times, means opening our minds to God’s Word. Be prepared to be disturbed and changed by it. AMEN