Tuesday 25/09/2018 – 5.15am
I saw a cartoon the other day. Of a mother calling to her (playing) children with those immortal words: “Wash your hands before dinner!” Except this was not those immortal words. And the children were playing but not in the way I played. So the words in this cartoon were a mother calling to her (game-controllers-in-front-of-the-tv playing) children: “Wash your thumbs before dinner!”
Then Jesus’ mother and his brothers came to him, but they could not reach him because of the crowd. And he was told, “Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, wanting to see you.” But he said to them, “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it.” Luke 8:19-21 (and Matthew 12:47 – and Mark 3:32)
Bible Study invites me to “study” these words. That these words are replicated in three of the four gospels makes this brief encounter significant. That other eternal wisdom: if I say it – then you say it – then we all say it … it must be true.
In about 90 minutes I will not be in front of these verses. I will be cradling our 6 month old grandson in a blanket in the back garden of our daughter’s home. And he will be silent. He will be relaxed in my arms. He will be quietly watching birds that flutter, that fly, that pass overhead. And I will be silent with him. I will not jiggle him, tickle him, or try to make him gurgle. Together we will stand in that back garden for between 5-10 minutes and not say a word, not make eye contact, not demand anything of each other. And then we will go back into his house … our daughter and son-in-law’s home … and the day will continue with games and toys and jiggling and chilling and all the usual days’ content.
And you can study that fragment all you like and it will mean different things at different times in your life. It may resonate or irritate. It may seem indulgent or essential. You may connect or be repelled. But unless you know me. Unless you know my life. Unless you know our grandson. Know who he is at this point in his life. Who I am at this point in my life. Our daughter. Our son-in-law. My wife and our other children …. Unless you are part of what we do, who we are and how we live … You will be studying words and words alone. And words alone will always be “study time”.
So too these verse fragments this morning – today’s “devotional” … today’s “bible study” … today’s connection with God … If they are still “words of study” my God is sitting on the couch playing a games controller (which isn’t really “playing” as He should). Because words are what I want them to mean – not always what the writer means. Because when the words are replicated in three of the four gospels, I can conclude that they are each copying each other which means the words are suspect, the gospels are suspect, the bible is suspect and God is suspect … and my “work” of connecting with “God” for the day is done.
Or I can connect with my life and my story and a fragment at this point in my life. Connect with who I am right now and in 90 minutes and in each minute before and after. These words don’t demand anything of me. I don’t have to talk back at them. I don’t have to make eye contact with them. But I know these 5-10 minutes are special.
And I can’t explain why in words that make sense to anyone but me.
Tuesday 25/09/2018 – 9.25am