Psalm 119:105 – Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.
I don’t know if you’ve read the Bible all the way through, but I’d bet most of us have, and some even multiple times. This time I’m using an unusual method, reading a page a day as one of my Parkinson’s “loud” exercises, which works on my vocal strength and clarity. I started doing this on April first this year and expect to finish on about October first next year.
Reading the Bible is a fruitful exercise since we have changed since the last time we read it. We have new insights, see the characters differently and understand better that God intends for us. As much as I’ve read the Bible, I could not tell you if the pages of the one I have been using were numbered or not. I hadn’t thought to look up and see the number. I’m pleased to report that the Bible I’m using does have numbers, which made it easier to calculate how long it would take me to finish.
The value of reading the Bible all the way through or in short selections is well known. From such readings we derive deeper understandings of ourselves and others, we understand cultures far different from ours and we understand that God is a God of love, so much so that He gave his son as an atonement for our sins.
Thanks be to God for the Bible, for scholars who work to understand it and for those who have worked to translate it so that people all over the world can know of its message of love, of hope and of encouragement, all the things that lead us to salvation. Amen.
Psalm 13: 1-2: 13 How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?
I don’t know how much you care for silence. I relish it, so I can spend hours with my computer or a cat or a book not saying a word and not missing the world of sound at all. This might be because I have extra sensitive hearing which stood me in good stead when I was teaching. A miscreant sitting in the back of the class might mumble some evil comment and then would be surprised to have earned himself a trip to the office to discuss his word choice with the principal.
My point is, I suppose, that silence has its uses. During the time of Covin, as I’ve said, I’ve spent hours in silence every day. But that’s not the only use of silence. Silence gestures can communicate a great deal. Pre-Covin when we would be at a social gathering and had be there for a while, all it takes is a look from Becky that seems to say, “It’s time to leave. I have to practice my prelude.” There are thousands of displays like this, including the rolled eyes of a teenager or the wrinkled face of someone who smells something bad. I’m sure you can think of other examples.
God also uses silences such as we heard in the passage from the Psalm. Jesus is in the silences of the touch for the leper, for the woman and for those who touched his robe. Then there are the silent healings with the centurion’s daughter, the woman possessed by demons and the ten lepers.
These examples stand as lessons for us. We do not need to speak to comfort or to encourage or to bring the past to mind. When we do these things, we are obeying the commandments of God. And they’re quite often found in the silences.
Isaiah 43:1: But now, this is what the Lord says—he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel:“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.”
I don’t know how many of you remember this closing to a “friendly” or business letter. It seems to have fallen out of favor, along with hand-written cards and letters. We use email and texting to communicate and to remember but we know that these methods are dependent upon a vast web of electronic media and everything could vanish, never to return.
I am so pleased that some of you and others in the church send cards and letters to comfort, to entertain and to inform. And those who receive these missives often will save them and they will last as long as they don’t get wet or don’t burn up.
The oldest texts are some 5,000-year-old Iranian tablets and are mostly accounts of property holdings. And of course, they’re written on clay tablets
The earliest extant paper fragment was unearthed at Fangmatan in Gansu province, and was likely part of a map, dated to 179–141 BC. So paper will last a good long time if it’s cared for property.
We all know that God does not write letters as we think of them, but he does communicate in various ways, such as during Belshazzar’s feast, or the story of the writing on the wall (chapter 5 in the Book of Daniel). God also communicates through the burning bush, with the still small voice and through answered (and unanswered) prayer. And you know, somehow I think that God ends each message, “Truly yours,” for if we call on God, God is truly ours and we are truly God’s. Praise God for always being present for us and for giving us his Son as a sacrifice so that we are God’s both now and evermore. Amen.