This Sunday is Holy Scripture Sunday, the last Sunday before “Christ the King” Sunday, which is the last Sunday of the church year. Holy Scripture Sunday is not on the official church calendar and it is noted only in the Collect of the Day which is one of my favorites. One of my professors in seminary would have us recite this Collect at the beginning of each class and I still know it by heart.
“Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning: Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.”
Sometimes taking the Scripture seriously gets a bad rap. We get pilloried as anti-science, anti-progress, anti-gay, anti-environment, anti-, anti-, anti-. It saddens me that Christians today are more often identified by what some might be against rather than what we are for. This has led to some seeing the Scripture as just a collection of outdated rules and regulations. But it is not so!
We have a tendency to make Scripture a “wax nose,” that is, something we can shape to suit our own tastes. But the discipline of the Christian community is that we interpret and apply Scripture as a community, and that is a great defense against using Scripture to justify ourselves.
Notice that the Collect reminds us that the Scriptures are written for our learning. And we ask God to “grant us so to hear . . .” The Scripture is a gift fo the community and we hear it properly in community. That’s not to say we shouldn’t read on our own, but we do so in the context of the community.
We are to “read, mark, learn and inwardly digest” the Bible. Not just memorize a few selected texts or use it to shore up our own preferences and biases. We submit ourselves to Scripture and commit to the hard work of plumbing its depth and breadth.
If you have been in a class or Bible study with me, you know that I do not take Scripture at a cursory level. I am never content to just take a superficial quip and move on. No, we take the time to plumb the depths, to think through the challenging bits, to let other passages of Scripture inform our reading of each part. It can be intellectually challenging, but o so worth it! And in the end, it is the only way to truly submit to Scripture.
How can you invest a little to hear, read, mark, learn and inwardly digest all holy Scripture?
This column appeared in the November 19, 2023 edition of St. John’s eNews. Click here for the complete issue.
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