Sunday, January 27, 2013

Sun. Jan. 27, 2013 (Michael Thomas)

Michael Thomas (Menno resident and Regent graduate student) spoke on the Lectionary's stories about people hearing 'the word of God' and how they responded. In the early centuries of the Jewish monarchy, the Torah was consistently granted pride of place among all the other writings which would eventually comprise our Old Testament. But as time passed, the concerns of the Torah would be eclipsed by those expressed in the Psalms and by prophets. With the advent of St Paul's writings, followed several decades later by the compilations of the Gospel stories, the importance of Torah declined still farther. Today, we are hard-pressed even to suffer through a reading of much of the Torah--its language, practices, assumptions and decrees now seem to have no application to our philosophy of life, and although we pay lip service to the Torah, we seldom know how its ideas should apply to our lives. By contrast, the story in Nehemiah 8 tells of a people hearing the Torah read aloud for the first time and being thrilled and enthralled as the words were relayed to them. Another story, that in Luke 4.14-, tells of Jesus returning home and reading the assigned text from Isaiah. That particular discussion time went so badly that the congregation decided to kill the speaker (ah, the good ol' days). St Augustine once distinguished between "the Book of Scripture [revelation]" and "the Book of Nature [logic, later science]". Psalm 19, in another of our Lectionary readings, presents poetry which seeks to reconcile the Book of Scripture with the Book of Nature. The initial verses claim that all of nature declares the glories of God, and the next set of verses review the importance of explicit laws and precepts found in Scripture. We need to learn to view Torah--and all of Scripture--as an ongoing living tradition rather than as the sole well from which the water of life can be retrieved. To Jesus's countrymen, this notion was worthy of death, but Jesus nevertheless persisted in finding new ways to apply the most general principles of Torah and the prophets to modern life, as did St Paul . . . as must we. [JEK]

Listen to the sermon audio MP3 recording from Sunday, January 27th, 2013 using your browser's preferred media player.



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