Friday, January 28, 2011

Scripture Verses: Friday Five

Songbird is at it again with the Friday Five:

Twenty years ago, I was on a Pastoral Search Committee, and one of the questions we asked the ten candidates we interviewed in the first round was to tell us their three favorite passages of scripture. I loved hearing the variety of verses quoted and even learned some that I didn't know, such as the last line of one of this week's lectionary passages:

He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8)

For today's Friday Five, list your five favorite passages/verses from the Bible and tell us something about why you love them

Songbird: That would be an unfair question to a bunch of Episcopalians. We don’t memorize Bible passages like some other traditions. I always marvel at some of my Baptist friends who can pull chapter and verse from their memory banks. But over the years I have gathered some that mean much to me:

  •  Ben Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) 2:1. Son, when thou comest to the service of God, stand in justice and in fear, and prepare thy soul for temptation. 2:2. Humble thy heart, and endure: incline thy ear, and receive the words of understanding: and make not haste in the time of clouds. 2:3. Wait on God with patience: join thyself to God, and endure, that thy life may be increased in the latter end. 2:4. Take all that shall be brought upon thee: and in thy sorrow endure, and in thy humiliation keep patience. 2:5. For gold and silver are tried in the fire, but acceptable men in the furnace of humiliation. 2:6. Believe God, and he will recover thee: and direct thy way, and trust in him. Keep his fear, and grow old therein. 2:7. Ye that fear the Lord, wait for his mercy: and go not aside from him lest ye fall. 2:8. Ye that fear the Lord, believe him: and your reward shall not be made void. 2:9. Ye that fear the Lord hope in him, and mercy shall come to you for your delight. 2:10. Ye that fear the Lord, love him, and your hearts shall be enlightened. 2:11. My children behold the generations of men: and know ye that no one hath hoped in the Lord, and hath been confounded. 2:12. For who hath continued in his commandment, and hath been forsaken? or who hath called upon him, and he despised him? 2:13. For God is compassionate and merciful, and will forgive sins in the day of tribulation: and he is a protector to all that seek him in truth. 2:14. Woe to them that are of a double heart and to wicked lips, and to the hands that do evil, and to the sinner that goeth on the earth two ways. 2:15. Woe to them that are fainthearted, who believe not God: and therefore they shall not be protected by him. 2:16. Woe to them that have lost patience, and that have forsaken the right ways, and have gone aside into crooked ways. 2:17. And what will they do, when the Lord shall begin to examine? 2:18. They that fear the Lord, will not be incredulous to his word: and they that love him, will keep his way. 2:19. They that fear the Lord, will seek after the things that are well pleasing to him: and they that love him, shall be filled with his law. 2:20. They that fear the Lord, will prepare their hearts, and in his sight will sanctify their souls, 2:21. They that fear the Lord, keep his commandments, and will have patience even until his visitation, 2:22. Saying: If we do not penance, we shall fall into the hands of the Lord, and not into the hands of men. 2:23. For according to his greatness, so also is his mercy with him.

This is my all time favorite chapter in the Bible. I am not especially enamored of this translation but I couldn’t find The Jerusalem Bible version on line. The Apocrypha is harder to find on line. I have found comfort and wisdom in this passage when I stand in it. This translation rightly translates the word fear, but I have always understood that as awe and respect, two words that are part of the experience of love for me. I hear in this the wise follower of God speaking to me as well as God, Creator speaking to me. So it really feels like Church is speaking. Ecclesiasticus is the Greek word for Preacher, which I love too.

  •  Philipians1: 4-9 4Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! 5Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. 6Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 8Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. 9The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

This was read at my ordination because I have found it so important to what God calls me to do. I have returned to it both in literary mode and music as a way to hear God’s message to me. Wherever I find myself anxious, I know that that anxiety is telling me that something is amiss in my life. It is usually a place of judgment or “a hah” when I know that I need to change and the possibility of change is real. This passage has called me to a fierce sense of what is honest and true for myself and for the Church I represent.

• Revelation 22: 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”

This best describes my Christology.

• Micah 6:8 He has showed you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
This best describes my missiology and evangelism.

• Isaiah 42:6 "I am the LORD, I have called you in righteousness, I  have taken you by the hand and kept you; I have given you as a covenant to the people, a light to the nations.

I understand that by the
Jewish roots of my faith to be how I am called to understand how the Divine began relationship with humanity. I have lived with and out of the stories of the Bible all my life. But that does not mean that God can only be understood in that way. I think that it is important for me to understand how God has manifested God’s self in all faiths and search for the truth and the touch of the Holy in those traditions as well. It is important for the future that we be about that way welcoming the Otherness of God. I am to be a Light to the nations, my Church is to be a Light to the nations, my nation is to be a Light as are other nations to be a Light or an example of how we are to live together in peace and shalom.


Wendy said...

I find the more holistic approach to the scriptures found in other traditions to be much truer and more meaningful for me than the quote chapter and single verse Evangelical Fundamentalist approach with which I grew up. That said, these are wonderful passages. I really need to spend more time with the Apocrypha.

SingingOwl said...

Micah 6:8 is the perfect three-point sermon. ;-) Love your (as always) thoughtful words.

Songbird said...

Ha! I grew up Baptist, but I have a better knowledge of scripture as a UCC pastor than I ever had as a Baptist layperson.
Thanks for playing. I love that passage from Philippians.

Jan said...

I've copied Ecclesiasticus 2 for me to ponder. I am not familiar with it. Thanks.