On Monday night, my husband played guitar for a worship service at a Presbyterian church that is especially affirming of the LGBT community. The service is called “Not So Churchy” to appeal to people who have been hurt by church or who have found it irrelevant. An acquaintance of mine, Mieke Vandersall, runs the service, and there was this really lovely point she made in her sermon that I wanted to bring back to you.
She started off by telling a story from a recent episode of the public radio show This American Life. The episode is called Kid Logic and is about all the funny ways kids take everyday facts and use perfectly good logic to come up with completely false conclusions. Mieke told a story from the episode that was also my favorite. It is about two little best friends named Rachel and Rebecca. And one day, little Rachel pulls Rebecca aside and says, “Last night, I woke up while the tooth fairy was putty money under my pillow. So I know who the tooth fairy is. My dad is the tooth fairy!” And so little Rebecca goes home and proclaims to her mom that she knows who the tooth fairy is. “Mr. Loberfeld, Rachel’s dad, is the tooth fairy!” And Rebecca’s mom makes her swear never to tell anyone this special secret that Mr. Loberfeld is the tooth fairy, and from then on, whenever Rebecca loses a tooth, she find a little note under her pillow that says, “Love, Mr. Loberfeld”.
Mieke says that when we read the Bible, we’re like kids trying to make sense of the world. And, like kids trying to figure out the tooth fairy, we might take the things we notice in the Bible, and sometimes, even if we use perfectly sound logic, we might come to the exact wrong conclusions about God and the world. And I wonder if the problem is not that we’re like kids. But that we sometimes come to the Bible armed with only our logic, only our brains. Now, I once heard someone say that they liked Church of the Village because we don’t ask people to check our brains at the door. And I’m not suggesting we turn off our brains when we come to the Bible. But I’m suggesting that we have to come with more than just our own brains and our logic. We have to come with our bodies and our spirits and our hearts and our sufferings and our joys and our friends. And, most of all, we have to come with open ears, to listen to the new thing God is saying especially to us in our time and place and situation through the scripture—God may have something to say to us here today through this word that has never been heard or thought or understood before in just that way.
Some of you may be reading the Bible more during Lent than you usually do. If that is feeling like a baffling chore—I think our Church of the Village blogger, Danny Leary, described his Lenten discipline of reading the Bible from the beginning as “as exciting as reading an Algebra textbook”—If you find the Bible difficult and repetitive and logically maddening, I encourage you to try to come at these ancient words, not only with your kid logic and your brains. But bring your whole self into your reading. Bring your own grief to the empty tomb. Bring your joys to Miriam’s dance of liberation. Bring your sin to the crucifying crowd. Bring your losses to Jeremiah’s Lamentations. Bring your church family on Sunday to read together at our 9:15am session on the scriptural prayer practice Lectio Divina. And then open your ears and listen for a new thing.
103How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!
104Through your precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way.
105Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.
(This was originally shared as a devotion on one of Church of the Village’s Wednesday morning prayer calls. Join us any Wednesday morning at 7am for 20 minutes of devotion and prayer. Ph: (559)546-1200, Code: 533-689-191#)