Saturday, December 10, 2011

Hearing truth in a new way

I like listening to the Bible read aloud. At STAG (St. Andrew the Great in Cambridge UK), W and I looked forward to the weekly scripture readings. The readers practiced the OT and NT readings for each Sunday morning rather than just showing up and fumbling through the passages. Bright, cheerful students articulated words and shaped sentences with those beauuuutiful Cambridge accents... they read entire chapters that informed the morning sermon and our weeks. Much of the scripture memory that drifts through my mind comes from those readings.

Knowing another language makes it easy to find variations in translations and readings. I don't know who was reading the German text, but last night his voice drifted through the hours. I listened to Galatians over and over, one chapter at a time. His clear speech and modern German differs from the readings of the Luther Bible of my childhood churches, bringing fresh focus to Paul's letter to the ancient church in Galatia. Old truths, read in a new way...

Seems like not much has changed. Listening to Paul's exasperation with the Galatian believers, I've thought about the rules and regulations that we force on each other in the Church. My studies of early Pentecostal women proves how we let history and our worldviews impose themselves on God's gifts. Instead of embracing the liberty of the gospel and the life of the Spirit, we press freedom into cultural boxes to impress our neighbors and restrict the behavior of fellow Christians to "acceptable" plainness, trying to prove to God our ardor in following him. When he lived among us, Jesus berated those who added rules and restrictions to God's law.

I love the grin of Prince Harry as his grandmother Queen Elizabeth walked by, reviewing his troop in 2006. Her visit required pomp, procedure, and protocol but Harry couldn't keep from smiling, "I know her! She knows me! Hi Grandma!"

God-beyond-our-understanding is so holy and beautiful that we couldn't survive an unshielded look at his face. Sometimes I can only gasp in wonder during prayer. Haven't we all fallen on our faces when God's presence comes near?

Thankfully, he is not just "mystery." His standards of right living align us with his perfect nature and protect us personally and in society. What good person could argue with respect for God and authority, honesty, faithfulness to marriage and family, and protecting the property of others (the 10 Commandments)?

Yet, if you're like me, you constantly go your own way, trample down side trips along the path to life, and have to come back again and again to ask forgiveness. When my emotions betray a lack of trust, he embraces me and welcomes me back into balance.

My Christmas gift to myself is immersion in scripture. I want to hear and listen as He speaks Word and words. And follow closely after him.

When my life ends and God does his review of the ranks of footsoldiers, I want to hear him say, "Well done, Rosemarie. You've been a good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your Lord." That will surely bring a big smile to my face, too. Are you looking forward to that day?

Read more: (Thanks, Moravians.)
*Psalm 141:1-4 Obadiah 1; Jonah 1,2; Revelation 11:1-14

I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting

covenant with them. Ezekiel 37:26

God has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant.

2 Corinthians 3:6

Prayer: Merciful God, your covenant is remembered and renewed in us. Our Lamb
has conquered, let us follow him. Amen.


  1. Thank you for stirring up in me both remembrance and challenge. Remembrance of the amazing grace and patience of a Father whose love and kindness never wavered through all the years when I actually believed that I could produce holiness by my self-righteous attempts to fold myself and others (and yes, even God) into those boxes you describe. Yet He saw even beyond that to a heart that wanted to please Him, and gently led me toward freedom. And challenge - to be every day at once satisfied with the freedom and purity and grace He has given, and hungry for more... there's always more.