Inwardly Digest by Rev. Charlie Dupree | Nov. 17th
by Rev. Charlie Dupree
Quite possibly one of the most memorable prayers that I know is the one that we heard last Sunday. A “collect,” we call it (KAH-lect). We have a collect assigned to every Sunday in the church year, as well as to other special days and holy occasions (see pp. 211-261 in the Book of Common Prayer. That’s 50 pages of prayers!). Collects follow a certain form: there’s an introduction in which the pray-er says something about the nature of God; there’s an “ask,” in which the pray-er asks something of God; there’s a conclusion, which ends in a Trinitarian formula. Overall, the collects move us through the year, Sunday by Sunday, season by season, and, even, day by day (in the case of Lent). These prayers accompany us as we move through our holy journey.
Back to the prayer assigned to this past Sunday . . .
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. (BCP, p. 236)
Did I hear that correctly? Inwardly digest?!!!
Yes, you heard correctly. It conjures up images, doesn’t it? Digestion is a slow process. You can’t rush it. Are we to assume that the interpretation and understating of scripture is similar to digestion? I think so. As a preacher, my hope is to offer sermons that help the people of God understand the ways in which they can make sense of scripture and apply the messages to their own lives. Some scripture is easy to understand. Some scripture, well, you have to really wrestle with. Like the passage on which Gwynn preached Sunday (see sermon here), we might need help making sense of it. Some parts of God’s Word might be readily apparent, which other parts might need to accompany us through a few seasons of life before we can grasp its deeper, truest meaning. The study of scripture is intentional. To understand it is a journey, which is why we need a community to accompany us.
As Episcopalians, we are steeped in scripture. Each Sunday, we hear the Word read, the Word prayed, the Word broken open through preaching and song, and the Word that sends us out into the world to love God and serve others. Most of all, we hear the Word of God lifted from the flat pages of history and put forth as a dimensional, relevant, living offering of hope.
How does Holy Scripture play into your life?
As we fast from our sacramental life during this season, may you use this time to feast on the Word. If you’re interested in knowing more about how you can engage with Scripture, please reach out to one of your staff or clergy, and keep an eye out for our next Bible study series (the last one for this series is this Wednesday, November 18th. Click Here to learn more). Another option is to tune in to daily Evening Prayer on Facebook Live. Other resources for a process of daily scripture reading are found below.
Scripture is but one of the ways that God is reaching out to you. May you read, mark, learn, and inwardly know and feel all of the ways that God loves you.