Scripture’s Power to Inspire and Animate
Anyone who’s spent time in its pages will tell you the Bibleis a force of nature. Actually, it’s several forces of nature that meet and mingle to produce a powerful, life-giving experience. There is, most notably, a divine presence in our sacred texts—a sense that what we’re reading originates with a Creator whose love prompted ancient writers to pen the words. On some level we believe the source of scripture and the Source of life are one and the same. Even if people were the instruments through which these texts came into existence, their power transcends human invention.
But we are also a force of nature in these texts, because none of them escaped human interference. Not one original manuscript for any book in the Bible is known to exist. The best we have are copies of copies—handwritten copies—which defy consistency we find and expect in mechanical publishing. And even high-tech replication doesn’t assure perfect copies every time! We know ancient languages present challenges for translators whose own work becomes problematic over time. Compare the King James Bible with today’s more current Common English Bible to get a sense of that. Then there are shifting thoughts and circumstances that invariably impact interpretive approaches. What one generation sees and believes clearly another barely sees or doesn’t believe at all. (The most infamous example: early American use of ancient texts to justifychattel slavery; the very thought of employing scripture to defend enslavement is and should be abhorrent today.)
Finally, no account of scripture is complete without acknowledging the written or spoken word as its own force of nature. The text actually announces this when, very early on, it tells us God breathed God’s life into the human. Embodying that divine gift not only inspires and animates us, it also empowers us breathe life into thoughts and words that, in turn, inspire and animate. The creative force we call the “Logos”—the wordbehind Creation—also exists in our words and literature, in our creative capacities.
Inspiration and animation are how God works. Allowing scripture to inspire and animate us is how we hear God speak.It’s also how we experience God. When we combine these three forces of nature, God, humanity, and literature, we experience transformation. And learning how to do that becomes an art—a force of nature—all its own.
As with any art form, reading scripture in life-affirming ways requires much practice and skill. Because so many of us encounter scripture at an early age, we often associate it with other childhood occupations that don’t ask much of us. That’s why so few of us really experience the full force of scripture. But if we develop a love of the art of reading scripture, we’lldiscover it is indeed life-giving, life-affirming, and life-changing.
Our weekly study series “Reading Sacred Texts: Resistance and Renewal” continues each Thursday in September. Join us via Zoom at:
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/88660895432, Meeting ID: 886 6089 5432
If you prefer to join by phone, dial 1-312-626-6799 and use the same meeting ID.
We need your help!
As we think about the future of Gather, please let us know what gifts you bring and would like to share with the community. There are many roles that have to come together to make Gather happen every week. This includes setup, technical support, worship, managing handouts and information, coordinating drinks, and teardown. We need your help. Please let us know what type of service you’d be interested in!
Watch God Work,
Tim & Shea
As we prepare to become a vibrant worshipping community, we invite you to enjoy a Spotify playlist that captures the kind of worship we hope to embrace. Give it a spin while you’re driving. Make it your workout jam. Add it to your devotional time. Most of all, feel yourself becoming part of a sacred village of believers who love their God and one another!
Check out the Gather Worship Playlist here.