Pastor’s Blog – Sept. 9, 2021

“Every scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching,

for showing mistakes, for correcting, and for training character,

so that the person who belongs to God can be equipped to do everything that is good”

(2 Timothy 3:16-17, CEB).

           In the 1980 classic, The Elephant Man, John Hurt plays the role of Joseph “John” Merrick. Born with a congenital disorder, Merrick used his disfigured face to earn a living as the “Elephant Man” in a sideshow. Life for Merrick was difficult. The public was repulsed by his appearance and treated Merrick with disdain. As a means of compensation, John Merrick grew a rough exterior to protect his tender emotional state.

            However, Merrick also displayed a spiritual resilience as he recounts the beautiful words of the Twenty-third Psalm in a moving scene. His recitation has brought audiences to tears. Every word uttered, carries with it a living faith in the Good Shepherd. More than a poetic reprise, he speaks as though the promises God makes through this Scripture are directed to Merrick personally.

            The Rev. Steve Manskar, director of Wesleyan leadership at the General Board of Discipleship, offers the following observation of Scripture’s purpose:

When we hold the Scriptures in our hands, open the book and read, we encounter something of the Divine.
God’s word is an extension of God’s life and love and mission into the lives, hearts and minds of human
beings and communities. When we regularly read, listen, and meditate upon Scripture, we make
ourselves available to the power of grace to form our thinking, our behavior, and our character.
 
            In short, the Scriptures are yet another Means of Grace by which we live with Jesus for the sake of becoming more like Jesus. Those who routinely practice this spiritual discipline are not merely informed about the ways of Jesus, they are transformed by God’s Spirit into a reflection of Jesus.

 

            Now, I am fully aware that reading through the Scriptures can be a daunting task. The Bible is a collection of books written over a period of 1000 years. The writing styles vary often from one literary style to another. Interpretation can present a formidable challenge.
 

            My counsel is to begin simply with a daily devotion. St. Paul Community will be offering a link to a daily devotional known as the Upper Room. The Upper Room offers a short Scripture passage followed by a brief commentary that allows the reader to dive more deeply into greater levels of understanding. You will find a link to the Upper Room at www.stpaulcumc.org or on the St. Paul Community UMC Facebook page. A notification will be sent when the link goes live.

            In the meantime, I will continue writing a daily reflection on the Means of Grace. Together I pray the Spirit of the Living Christ will reshape our hearts, reform our minds, and strengthen our resolve to live and love like Jesus to make the world a better place for everyone!