The Good Book is that, and so much more

Dear Friends,

It is good to be back home again, after our family enjoyed a wonderful vacation and our Mexico Mission Team enjoyed a blessed week building a home. Vacations are wonderful opportunities to unplug, unwind, relax and recharge, and I hope any vacations you took did the same for you as mine did for me. I shared with you before I left that I was excited for the wonderful fall we’ve been planning since last spring. On Sunday, we’ll be sharing news of new ministries in the church, and some renewed older ones. One of the things I’m most excited about this fall is a chance for us to gather together and study the Bible.

We Orthodox love to honor God’s Words by encasing the Gospels with a gilded cover, carrying it high and honoring it in processions. Now we’re going to open up that cover and dive deeply into the inspiring and challenging messages that fill the pages of each book of the Bible. I think it’s safe to say that the Bible is one of the greatest undiscovered treasures we have. Rather than tell you my reasons why studying the Bible is so important, let me share a few reasons from St. John Chrysostom, the author of the Divine Liturgy that bears his name. He says the following:

The Bible helps us to obtain our salvation.  “Now if we are willing to examine the Scriptures in this way, carefully and systematically, we shall be able to obtain our salvation. If we unceasingly are preoccupied with them, we shall learn both correctness of doctrine and an upright way of life. (Hom 53 On John)

Knowledge of the Bible protects us and ignorance of it results in a multitude of evils. “This is the cause of all evils, the not knowing the Scriptures. We go into battle without arms, and how are we to come off safe?” (Hom. IX On Colossians)

Children must be instructed in the Scriptures, beginning with the learning of psalms and hymns“But now your children will utter songs and dances of Satan, like cooks, and caterers, and musicians; yet no one knows any psalm, but it seems a thing to be ashamed of even, a mockery and a joke. For whatsoever soil the plant stands in, such is the fruit it bears; if in a sandy and salty soil, of like nature is its fruit; if in a sweet and rich one, it is again similar.”  (Hom. IX  On Colossians)

On the lack of attention paid when listening to the reading of Scriptures in church, when in fact it is not the clergy but God who addresses them.  “They think that when they enter in here [the church], that they enter into our presence [the clergy], they think that they hear from us. They do not lay to heart, they do not consider that they are entering the presence of God, that it is He who addresses them. For when the Reader standing up says “Thus says the Lord”, and the Deacon stands and imposes silence on all, he does not say this as doing honor  to the Reader but to honor Him who speaks to all through him [the Reader].” (Hom. IX On Thessalonians.)

So you’ll hear more about our upcoming 8-week Bible study series on Sunday. Let’s pray that God will help us shuffle our priorities a bit in the coming Ecclesiastical (Church) Year, allowing us to be blessed by the study of His Holy Words.

God is speaking. Let’s take more time to listen.