Our Teacher Who Art In Heaven
I'm not arguing for a change in Scripture. "Our Father" is greatly preferable to "Our Teacher." "Our Father" is how Jesus, through the sacred text, teaches us to pray. Yet, understanding God as our Teacher and the text as an educational treasure, is an exercise given in this week's collect (see below). It begins, "Blessed Lord, who caused all Holy Scriptures to be written for our learning." This is a beautiful articulation of both the fact of the divine inspiration of Scripture and the purpose of the divine inspiration of Scripture. God, our Blessed Lord, caused Scripture to be written. That, alone, invites our steady attention to this family of texts. But this action of God is for a purpose: our learning. This fact . . . that God wants us to learn, is educational. We learn that he invites our intelligent engagement with his word and his very person! This reality teaches me that God the Father welcomes us to embrace his purposes by understanding them, and to understand them by embracing his self-revelation (his word) the Holy Scriptures. As we treasure his word, he teaches us that he treasure us. That's one of the things we learn as we are taught by the text. Now this doesn't happen automatically or magically. But it does happen if and when we make an effort . . . little by little . . . to take in God's word. As the prayer says, "Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them." Or, as Archbishop Cranmer writes in his Homily on Scripture: "Let us night and day muse and have meditation and contemplation in them; let us ruminate and, as it were, chew the cud, that we may have the sweet juice, spiritual effect, marrow, honey, kernel, taste, comfort and consolation of them. Let us stay, quiet and certify our consciences with the most infallible certainty, truth, and perpetual assurance of them." I can feel and hear the Archbishop's pastoral heart in his repetitions, restatements, and verbal reinforcements. As the Archbishop at the leading edge of the English Reformation, Cranmer wanted all England to know the Scriptures and pray the Scriptures. Thus common prayer in the common language of the common people. The Scriptures, too, in English. Bibles in the churches available for the people. A radical move. All of this for the assurance of a secure relationship with the Father, through the Son, in the Spirit. That is the experiential fruit of our learning in Scripture. The sweetness of this fruit richly repays the efforts of planting and tending this particular tree of knowledge. For we truly live by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.
See you Sunday,
The Collect of the Day
Blessed Lord, who caused all Holy Scriptures to be written for our learning: Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that by patience and the comfort of your holy Word we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
(Click on the links below to read Sunday's passages)
This week, we are engaging a service of Advent Lessons and Carols. The lessons are:
5. Micah 5:2-4
7. Luke 1:26-38
8. Luke 2:1-20
9. John 1:1-18