“How are you doing?” These words often uttered with little interest as to how one is really doing have been asked often lately. A few of my more recent posts referenced my own working through recent events in our faith community. I am appreciative of those who have asked and understood my replies. I fear somehow I may have communicated something of a “hopelessness.”
Quite the contrary. I am more hopeful than at any time in my life. The writer of Hebrews notes that faith is the “assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (Heb.11:1, ESV) It is the hope of Jesus in resurrection that holds me. While we grapple with the realities of life, we still do so with hope – just think of the Garden of Gethsemane. Most tip the hat at Jesus’ humanity. For many it only provides understanding to the “tempted in all things as we yet without sin.” Somehow we think the humanity of Jesus did not subject him to emotions we feel inappropriate for the “in fleshed one.”
I finished Robert Benson’s book, Between the Dreaming and the Coming True. I have posted a couple of times already on something written causing me to press ahead through he fog of my attempted understanding. If N.T. Wright is correct in asserting that we encounter the authority of God mediated by the Spirit of God in the reading of the Scriptures, what more would we find were we to pray the Scriptures. Many have had this habit for quite some time. I found the following a riveting reminder of just what may happen as we live under the authority of the King as we pray the Scriptures – just what kind of transformation that might mean for we who seek to live out the Incarnation of Jesus in our own lives.
When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray, he responded with a prayer that was largely constructed from the phrases taken from Jewish liturgical prayers. The words he groaned on the cross as he died – “Into your hands I commit my spirit” – were quoted from the end of the traditional prayers that had been said at sundown by the faithful for centuries before him.
Many of the parables and stories he told had roots in the Jewish wisdom literature that was contemporary to his times; others had told some of those stories before him as we tell them after him even now. It is less likely that he quoted from the scriptures and the psalms because he dictated them, as some would have us believe, than it is that he did so because he studied and prayed them in the way the faithful had taught him to do, until they had become a part of the very fabric of his thought life.
Say what you will about your quibbles with Benson’s take on the method of scriptural transmission. To linger there without hearing the call to pray the scriptures so they will become the very fabric of your thought life is to miss the point. Our occasion to live out what it means to be the “Body of Christ” hinges on our willingness to fall under the authority of the King – we meet it in the Scriptures and experience it by the Spirit.
It is “these words of life” that give hope when to do otherwise would be despair. Good News.