SALVATION STORY LEADING TO SCRIPTURE
For the last month or so in homilies and articles we have been revisiting the basic story of Salvation. All people have been created by a loving Father God who wants us with Him for eternity. Then we were captured by the enemy, with our own free will as an accomplice. Jesus Christ has rescued us by giving his own life for ours, entering into enemy territory at great cost to himself. Because of this, we are called to respond. We are called to tell this amazing story, share it, and grow in understanding of it.
One of the keys, pillars, foundations, and core elements of Christianity is Sacred Scripture. The Bible. The Word of God. This is where we read the Salvation Story. Our great Diocese has been given the opportunity to walk through a good portion of the Bible this year with our Bishop. That warms my heart more than I can say, as someone who finds the Bible an essential part of life!
Since the announcement of that terrific daily encounter with the Word of God, several folks have asked for some sort of advice on how to read the Bible, maybe even a crash course. There are many, many great resources online. One of which is Fr. Mike Schmitz; who will be walking through the Bible Timeline in the year ahead on his podcast, https://media.ascensionpress.com/ category/ascension-podcasts/bibleinayear/. Several months ago we ran a series called a Seven Week Walk Through the Bible. The edited audio can still be found on our St. John website. https://saintjohnjackson.org/faithformationmenu/bible-study In the weeks ahead, Angel Koerkel and I will be posting a series of videos on the St. John YouTube page and having some ZOOM discussions for parents and Grandparents (and heck, anyone, really) called How To Talk To Your Kids About The Bible.
Also, here are a couple of key pointers and clues that have been invaluable to me in my study of Scripture, as an armchair theologian and amateur of the Word.
This Is The Word Of God In The Words Of Men. The Sacred Scriptures were written for all peoples of all cultures of all times. It is not written in English. It is not written from a Western American 21st Century point-of-view; yet it IS still speaking directly to us. Remember, like Jesus, the Sacred Scripture is both human and divine. Yes, the Holy Spirit (God Himself!) is the primary author… yet each human author must be considered. What was their culture, what was their understanding of God, what political and social influences color their writings?
The Genre Generates Our Approach. Some of the books of the Bible are poetry, some prose, others are personal letters, some are lists and histories, some are fanciful stories. The Bible has adventure, drama, satire, humor, parables, songs and long lists of obituaries. It helps to know the genre to understand how to interpret what we are reading.
The Upward Spiral Of Morality And Slow Revelation. Scripture is a slow unveiling of Truth and the moral law of Christ. It starts with baby steps and is primitive. Many of our Bible stories take place long before the people meet Christ. There is a slow growth into true divine peace, forgiveness, mercy, self-sacrifice, or the grace of the Holy Spirit.
Uno Unfolding. As this story slowly unfolds we clearly see ONE story; one God, one plan for salvation. Even though there are 73 books in this library, there is one storyline. So often, confusion in one paragraph or book is explained in the next or at least in another.
Wrestle With The Word. There is a scene in Genesis where Jacob wrestles with an Angel of the Lord and refuses to stop. We need to wrestle sometimes with the living Word until we understand.
Where do we learn all this? So, that’s all well and good—but where do we LEARN all of this? How do we know the genre or the unfolding morals or where the answers are to be found elsewhere in the Bible pages? Like anything else: we turn to the experts. A good study Bible, commentaries, explanation guides, Bible study groups, classes, and other tools are invaluable! We have been working to provide some of this to our parishioners, please let me know what else we can do to help you walk the Word! I am so, so excited for the months ahead as more and more of us dig into the Bible!
Director of Faith Formation