Saturday, 5 March 2011

The Book or it's Cover

Matthew 7:21-27

Jesus said to his disciples, ‘It is not those who say to me, “Lord, Lord,” who will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the person who does the will of my Father in heaven. When the day comes many will say to me, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, cast out demons in your name, work many miracles in your name?” Then I shall tell them to their faces: I have never known you; away from me, you evil men!
  ‘Therefore, everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a sensible man who built his house on rock. Rain came down, floods rose, gales blew and hurled themselves against that house, and it did not fall: it was founded on rock. But everyone who listens to these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a stupid man who built his house on sand. Rain came down, floods rose, gales blew and struck that house, and it fell; and what a fall it had!’

A hard reading for us 'practising Christians'; we who feel that we are living out our lives doing the right thing. And more especially for those of us who imagine that it is a gift to teach others; to interpret the Word to others.

It is a risky business; teaching the Gospel could be as simple as could be; read enough books; go on enough retreats; listen to enough talks and there you are - an expert. Learn a few pertinent verses and remember the stories of a couple of saints and you can debate to your heart's content. If it was just meant to be a subject - a topic for discussion, then that's great . If Jesus was just a character in a book; a figment of some Gospel writer's imagination then it would be all about the presentation and our ability to shine. 

We can all be very shiny on the outside - that doesn't make us 'good'. And having had a few discussions this week about books (it's National Book Week) I was thinking about how we can be very like books in that respect. We had a book swap in our library and the tables were filled with bright, shiny books, with barely a crease to the spine. Books with blurbs full of promises and catchphrases; critiques and five star ratings. Perhaps they were just bad choices at the time; a quick read on a train or a title everyone was talking about - but they hadn't lived up to the hype; held the interest or touched the place in our heart  that stories sometimes do. Little orphan books looking for new homes.

Last year we brought in our favourite books; difficult when you are a reader; because it 'just depends'. On the day I brought in a children's book that I  bought many years ago in a jumble sale. It was worn then; but it's even more worn now; having lived under my pillow; under the bed; in suitcases; in schoolbags and lent, with trepidation, to friends now and again. I love that book- the story; the poems; the illustrations; the paper; the typeset; the cover; the graffiti added by my  brothers; even the smell-everything about that book is right; is good. It speaks for itself. And not surprisingly, most of the other favourite books were in a similar state.

And then I thought about our Scripture group and our Bibles - the Word. Some of us have invested in new Bibles or different translations; but the ones that grab my attention are the ones that have come away from their bindings; that need to be wrapped for safe-keeping - having had other prayers and notes added to the pages; having been earmarked; cornered and post-it noted. Bibles whose words have been the rock of that person's faith; their cornerstone; their foundation.

Jesus says many times 'you have learnt....' and then,  the challenge  'what have you done with what  you have learnt?'.

We can't just learn our faith;  we have to learn it; know it and then live it out until we become dog- eared, tattered and bound with  acts of faith and love.



claire said...

Oh, Word, how very beautiful: We can't just learn our faith; we have to learn it; know it and then live it out until we become dog- eared, tattered and bound with acts of faith and love.

You bring this to my mind: We have to become Christian 'Velveteen Rabbits.'

Well, you really are showing the Way. Thank you!

Word in the Hand said...

Thank you Claire - what a wonderful image -worn out through love - I think of worse things:)
Be well

Word in the Hand said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jade said...

I am new to your blog and have found it incredibly refreshing! I love the personal details you gave about your favorite books, and how many people can appear all put together on the outside. It is truly what we do with what we've learned and how it penetrates who we are...

Word in the Hand said...

From an obvious book lover - I take that as a compliment
welcome and blessings m+