Inwardly Digest

Life is a lot more hectic these days.  I feel like my schedule is not my own.  I try to plan for the unexpected, but it always lives up to its name.  It was about a year ago that I began the process of transitioning from being the First Associate Rector at Saint Paul’s in Foley to the 25th Rector of Christ Church, Bowling Green.  During that period of saying good-bye, pondering hello, and experiencing more change than I can recall in my life, people offered me a lot of advice.  Much of what they told me was wise.  Some of what I heard was ominous.  The most frightening thing someone told me in those two months was “good luck keeping up your blogging schedule.”

A year later, I am keenly aware that I have not kept up this blog with the rigor I once had, though I am proud of what I have accomplished this year.  Rather than four days a week, I’m probably averaging three.  It is a 25% reduction, which I lament, but it is better than a 50% or 100% drop.  Still, while some of you have noticed the infrequency, and especially the occasional week of silence, I assure you, no one feels my change in writing more than me.  For nearly 15 years now, I’ve been writing a blog about the Bible.  More than any other spiritual discipline, I have kept up the practice of reading and journaling the Scriptures.  Each year, on the week of Proper 28, I am reminded of the gift blogging has given me when we pray this collect.

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 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.

This blog is, for me, an opportunity to inwardly digest the Scriptures.

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Each day, I take time to read the lessons appointed for Sunday.  As a word jumps out at me, I pay attention to or mark it.  I take that word to BibleWorks or Studylight.org or to one of my commentaries and try to learn more about it.  Finally, I turn my attention to how I might take what I’ve learned and inwardly digest it so that I can explain that understanding to someone else.  Honestly, I would write this blog if nobody else read it.  Though, if I’m honest, I do check my stats daily.  But it is in the action of taking what I’ve learned and turning it into words on a screen that I really begin to deepen my understanding of what God is saying through the Scriptures.

Blogging may not be for you.  Perhaps you don’t think people need to hear your thoughts on the Bible, or aren’t so conceited as to think you have some insight to offer.  Journaling privately might be your way into the Scriptures, but then again, maybe that isn’t for you either.  No matter how you do it, I hope this week, as you pray the Collect for Proper 28, you might take some time to consider how you will live it out by hearing, reading, marking, learning, and inwardly digesting the holy word of God.

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temptation

Sometimes it is a really good thing that I have a Prayer Book with rubrics and Canons that strongly suggest I follow them.  Last night was one of those occasions.  My prayer before pancakes – not prescribed by the Prayer Book – ended up sounding more Ricky Bobby than Shrove Tuesday having thanked God for eggs, sugar and buttermilk, “and especially for pork products.”  Not my finest moment.

So, this morning, after the 7am service, the Senior Warden and I went out to grab breakfast and I found myself ordering the Beauregard Omelet filled with breakfast sausage, onions, hashbrowns and cheese.  Temptation, they name is breakfast.

Immediately after Jesus’ baptism and confirmation as “beloved Son,” the Spirit of God flung him (literally, that’s what it says) into the wilderness where for forty days he was tempted by Satan.  The Church, fond of Biblical numbers, has set apart the season of Lent, which begins today, as a 40 day period of “self-examination and repentance; prayer, fasting, and self-denial; and reading and meditation on God’s holy Word.”  Many folks, even those who are barely nominally Christians, continue the practice of giving up something for Lent.  Caffeine, smoking, chocolate, and fatty foods are probably the most common items foregone during the Season.

I’ve never really understood the intentional creation of temptation during Lent.  We give something up that we love… why? Is it to be tempted like Jesus?  Well, Scripture tells us he is the only one to be tempted as we are “yet without sin.”  Why the setup to fail?  I fail to say “no” to temptation enough during the rest of the year, why add something to the list?

I’m a bigger fan of the up-and-coming practice of taking something on for the Season.  Sure, some will take this as a chance to start exercising, but that’s not what I’m talking about here.  I’d like to see more people take on a spiritual discipline during Lent: something that very intentionally will draw them closer to their Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer.  There are myriad examples to choose from: reading a daily meditation, writing a blog (example 1 and example 2), reading the Bible, or prayer.

Sin, it is said, is separation from God – sins are the symptoms.  It seems to me that giving something up for Lent deals with the symptoms, while taking on a practice goes to the heart of it.  Either way, I suppose, the temptation to make it all about “me” is there.  Jesus, during his 40 days, found Shalom, the peace of God, such that the Kingdom of God described in Isaiah 11 was fully manifest in the wilderness.

Whatever you do this Lent, make it less about you and more about God’s Kingdom, inaugurated in Christ and available daily to those who turn to Him and live.