OUR VALUES: SCRIPTURE
BY THE REV'D MARK BOOKER
FEBRUARY 27TH, 2017
The second stated value of our diocese is Scripture.
Cranmer’s beloved collect calls upon God to help us “hear, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest” the holy Scriptures for the sake of true Christian living, that we might “embrace, and ever hold fast, the blessed hope of everlasting life.” That is, Scripture is the God-ordained means by which we are nourished and sustained in the life of faith. Neglect this and our grip on the blessed hope will loosen. Prioritize this and our grip will grow ever stronger.
It seems fair to suggest that Cranmer was inspired by the words of Moses that “man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord” (Dt 8:3). Jesus quotes Moses when he is tempted. After forty days of fasting, no doubt meditating upon Scripture for much of this time, he embodies the words of Psalm 119:11, “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” The word of God keeps him on the path of life, holding on to the blessed hope with an iron grip, even in Gethsemane, even on the cross. It’s that simple, really.
Think of Matt Damon in The Martian and how he depended upon oxygen in such an inhospitable climate. The spiritual life, the blessed hope, is no more natural in the sinful world than human life is on Mars. Scripture is our oxygen, breathed out by God.
Is it any wonder, then, that such a necessity, such a lifeline, such a gift, is celebrated throughout Scripture itself? When Ezekiel eats the word of God it’s as sweet as honey in his mouth (Ezk 3:3). Jeremiah, too, ate the words of God and they became to him “a joy” and “the delight of my heart” (Jer 15:16). The psalmist echoes both when he declares, “How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” (Ps 119.103).
So, as the people of God, we hear, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest this great gift of God’s word. We do this together. We do this alone. And we know that as we do this, with humility, with faith, with our minds and hearts fully engaged, we are being sustained, nourished, and shaped by God himself as the people of the blessed hope.
One of the ways we engage Scripture at Church of the Cross is by providing an accessible daily lectionary. To deepen our engagement with the readings, someone in our community writes a brief reflection (daily or weekly, depending on the season) for all of us to read.
There are obviously many ways to engage Scripture. The important thing is that we do, regularly and intentionally, so that our hold upon the blessed hope remains firm to the end.