January 25th, 2021 by Christopher Caudle
The wordiest Psalm in the Book of Psalms (and the longest chapter in the Bible) is a song about the Word.
Psalm 119 romps through the entire Hebrew alphabet, with eight line stanzas for each of the language’s 22 letters, describing the value, benefits, and helps that God’s words offer.
Verse 105 names one of these benefits.
Your word is a lamp for my feet,
a light on my path.
This Psalm works best when it is dark, or the memory of darkness is fresh. Stubbed toes and strange sounds in the shadows also heighten appreciation.
A lantern, an illumined path. What a gift. Gratitude and dependence are obviously in order.
Unless we get lost in all the words.
It sometimes happens when we think about the Bible. The best-selling, least-read book of our time.
Light and direction don’t always seem to come spilling out when we flip the switch on the spine.
Maybe the batteries are weak, or the bulb past its usefulness?
The Psalmist makes a myriad of claims about the Word’s value and virtues.
Psalm 19 (a hundred chapters earlier) is a wonderful sidekick to this deluxe version, and both of them point us helpfully toward the Word’s usefulness by reminding us of the Word’s source.
“Your word is…”
The word is from God.
God’s words to us.
So many words, but one good source.
An Author who inspired the authors.
An Interpreter who joins all trusting interpreters as they listen.
So many chapters and verses and translations and genres and time periods and covenants and invasions and minor prophets and questions and surprises inside the Bible.
So many teachers and talkers and videos and books and controversies and links about the Bible.
So so many questions and surprises.
But one good source. God.
As we begin this new year, there is still darkness around us. There are paths to be walked and noises in the shadows.
In response, let’s hear God’s word together.
One thing is clear from the Bible itself. God spoke in a wide variety of ways so that the widest variety of people could hear His words to them.
Sometimes, the church has picked a single favorite way to hear God’s word and reduced it to that, leaving lots of the Bible and lots of people behind.
But there are lots of ways to encounter scripture, listening for the voice of the author in the words He gave us.
We each have our favorites because they have worked for us.
Unless we don’t have a favorite because we haven’t found what works for us.
We are beginning this year by listening to the scriptures together.
You can download a free subscription to the Dwell app for your phone and listen to God’s word. You can select the voice and music you like (my favorite is Felix from Tanzania with the cello in the background) and listen to any portion of scripture you choose.
There is no cost to you because we believe this is important for the growing health of our people and parish.
You can invite your friends to join you. We are happy to share this opportunity with them.
Once you sign-up for the app, inside you’ll find a list of reading plans created by the church staff.
These 5 or 10 day plans will let you listen to a portion of the scriptures each day. Each staff member picked their own topic and selected the scriptures.
In a couple of weeks, each staff member will host a zoom call where you can share what you heard with others who have also been listening.
Whether you’ve been reading the scriptures for years or have never read a sentence.
Especially if you usually let scripture enter your heart through your eyes.
My reading plan is called Jesus’ Greatest Talks and it includes some of Jesus’ most memorable teachings.
I am listening for both what Jesus said and how he said it, and look forward to what you hear as you listen along.
Scripture can be experienced in so many ways.
One good God generously speaking and sharing His love and plans and path, most clearly through Jesus Christ.
As time goes by, we will be introducing more ways to encounter God in the scriptures.
In the meantime, sign up for the app with no further obligations.
Pick a reading plan and let us know if you are reading along with us.
You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to read along with me. Join us for the zoom call. We will be sending info to all the people who sign up for the plan.
Psalm 119 has inspired lots of responses from its readers. I'll leave you with two musical examples. Which one captures the psalm’s promise best for you?
The first is by the 17th century English composer Henry Purcell.
The second is an anthem by 1980s CCM artist Amy Grant.
Many ways to hear, many ways to respond. One good Author who loves us and offers us light and direction.
To hear Christopher's latest sermons on new beginnings, go here.
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