Saturday, November 3, 2012

Saints Still Teach

All Saints Sunday
Today is a day for remembering so I want you to remember elementary school. 
Do you remember your first lessons in reading?
I have just the video to help. . .  Sing along.

Are you starting to remember school? 
How about your first math lesson?
Let me help you with this. . .again, Sing along.
Math video

Now I want you to remember Sunday School and times sitting with your parents or mentors as you learned the first lessons about Christianity.
I didn’t put any SS lessons to music, unfortunately, that is not my talent..

Who taught you about 
2)About Christianity? Or ‘what Christians believe?’ (or are supposed to believe)
(Perhaps your homework is to make of list of those whom you have taught?’)

Let me make this easier. I want to know what you/we learned from our saints.
I’m not asking you to explain what you learned, I just want you to raise your hand for a minute if you were taught about the subject of one of the select verses from today’s scriptures, or the scripture from the Wisdom of Solomon that I will read. 
Each time you hear something you were taught, raise your hand. No explanations needed. 

 Wisdom of Solomon 3:1-93:1 But the souls of the righteous are in the hand of God, and no torment will ever touch them. 3:2 In the eyes of the foolish they seemed to have died, and their departure was thought to be an affliction, 3:3 And their going from us to be their destruction; but they are at peace. 3:4 For though in the sight of men they were punished, their hope is full of immortality. 3:5 Having been disciplined a little, they will receive great good, because God tested them and found them worthy of himself;3:6 like gold in the furnace he tried them, and like a sacrificial burnt offering he accepted them. 3:7 In the time of their visitation they will shine forth, and will run like sparks through the stubble. 3:8 They will govern nations and rule over peoples and the Lord will reign over them forever. 3:9 Those who trust in him will understand truth, and the faithful will abide with him in love, because grace and mercy are upon his elect, and he watches over his holy ones.
Are you hearing anything familiar?

Psalm 24:1,4,5,10
The earth is the Lord's and all that is in it, the world, and those who live in it; Those who have clean hands and pure hearts, who do not lift up their souls to what is false, and do not swear deceitfully. They will receive blessing from the LORD, and vindication from the God of their salvation. Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, he is the King of glory.

Mark 12:29,30,31,34Jesus answered, "The first is, 'Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; 12:30 you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.'12:31 The second is this, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these." When Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, "You are not far from the kingdom of God."       

I am sure many of you took some of these initial faith teachings from one of YOUR saints and deepened it to the mature faith you have today. 

Perhaps some of you are like me; I’m constantly finding corners of my faith that need greater depth. There’s always something about which I want to learn more.  Do you ever feel that way? 

It’s what we do here on Sunday. In addition to voicing our worship thru praise and prayers, we deepen our faith thru learning - 
both from direct contact with scripture and from 
direct contact with each other.

Let’s take a minute to refresh our memories about one of those lessons; ways to read the Bible.
  1. Brethren historically said, just take “the plain reading”  (What do you think that means?) Mean what it says...does it mean now? Or Then? At the time of translation? old English, modern English? 
During a part of our history it was an anti-higher education statement. Still there is truth that we should not ‘read into’ a text what we want to hear. We have to listen to what the text says to us.

  • I”m always saying read - In Context, it is important to read the story around the verses we are studying. Also read the entire story, book, gospel, letter, within which the text sits. Or at a minimum, read a good summary. But the Text itself comes first.
  • The language is important. WE look at different translations, Look up idioms, cultural nuance and language difficulties. When possible check for textual variations. The work of scholars, pastors, teachers, BUT with today’s ease of finding resources, not so hard to find out if you really have a question. (or you can phone a friendly pastor..)
  • Tradition, a bit of church history involved here, but ‘What does Christian tradition and OUR CoB tradition say about the text or issue of faith?’  This can be Important because what ‘tradition’ has said about baptism and what Brethren say, differ.
  • Community: Scripture is to be read and interpreted within a community of believers said the early Anabaptists and it is still true today. So...
What the SAINTS said matters! What they said then, and what WE, this generation of SAINTS say now.

Never feel overwhelmed. It’s ok that we don’t understand everything or that we differ in our understanding.  Today is just a reminder that we CAN still learn the Bible and we CAN ask for help, from saints young and old. . .we should!

What lessons did our Saints teach us? -Church saints AND personal saints. I’m going to put up a chart of topics. Tell me some of the things you were taught. - Tell me even if you have come to disagree with what you once learned. 
These are just a few topics I thought of, were you taught


Church attendance
Equality; race,religion, clas
Witnessing faith 2 others 
State execution /cap punis

What are you willing to share in the safety of this community?

Today’s point takes us deeper than remembering the good folks who helped us get where we are today. We didn’t just learn static truths from them, we learned how to learn. And life has taught us that we have to keep learning. 
“Life-Long-Learning” we call it. (or we get left-behind)

Regardless of where we find ourselves tomorrow or next week, ..moderating a church meeting, ...or ...fielding questions about faith and politics,    A deep faith requires a theologically serious engagement with Scripture. 
We call that a ‘mature faith’. Scholar Cynthia Jarvis wrote to ALL ministers, “If we mean to re-present Christ in our ministry, [& our everyday world, our faith] must be one of disciplined study and learned engagement with Scripture that leads to a theologically informed wrestling with the world in which we live.”

Jarvis referred to Jesus’ conversation with the scribe about the most important commandment, and wrote, “it was because the scribe and Jesus were knowledgable that they could dialogue with regard for one another,” “they found themselves talking above the ideological divides and engaged in a kind of communication that had a redemptive ring about it.” The scribe’s question isn’t a test (like so many other encounters) but an invite to a table discussion with respect.”

Being prepared to discuss our faith, to SOME degree, is a way of loving God with our MINDS, along with our heart, soul and strength.
We don’t have to know it all, we know what we’ve been taught, - by our Saints. We can be faithful to the Bible because we know how to read it. 
And we can Treat those with whom we disagree with respect. And THAT is a way of loving our neighbor as ourselves. 
Maybe we are back to simple addition
Love God + Love of neighbor = Obeying the commandments

Let me just say you know more than you think
You HAVE learned from your teachers and from THESE SAINTS. (point) You ARE continuing to learn, every Sunday you are here, every time you open your Bible, every time you discuss current events HERE in the community of faith. 
We are prepared to ‘wrestle with the world’ because our saints are STILL teaching us, every time we remember them and what they taught us with their lives. 

Jesus was asked what was THE most important faith teaching? He summed it up with a simple answer, using quotes from what HE had been TAUGHT. He used two texts that are pivotal to the Jewish faith, then and now. 
Deuteronomy 6:4 and Leviticus 19:18 

If we had no record of his teachings, AND his LIFE. Along with the subsequent work of disciples, we might be tempted to interpret these texts  in isolation, or relegate them to Jesus’ Jewish faith, not our Christian one. ....
BUT Because Jesus LIVED these commands, they are pivotal to Christian faith also.

Because we DO have Jesus’ life, his example, & the parables he told, we take these commands as OUR primary teaching for us and for the generation we raise and they will do the same. 
(1 + 1 + 1 + 1) 

We have words and lives which equals = a generation of Saints.

OUR Saints taught us ABC’s and 1,2,3’s,
Because  1 + 1 = 2

The WORDS we were taught (1)... reinforced by the LIVES of our saints, (+1) 
Equals 2, 
OUR lives, another generation of Saints. 

Cynthia Jarvis Feasting On The Word, Pastoral Bartlett and Taylor, eds. (Louisville:WJK,2009)262

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