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Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Week 1 of Study: Imprinting God's Word

by Kristin Berkey-Abbott

The reading for Sunday, July 26, 2015:

Deuteronomy 11:1 - 21

As I read the passage for Sunday, I was struck by the end:

"You shall put these words of mine in your heart and soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and fix them as an emblem on your forehead. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, so that your days and the days of your children may be multiplied in the land that the Lord swore to your ancestors to give them, as long as the heavens are above the earth."

We are to carry the words of God not only in our hearts, our brains, but visibly too.  How many of us do that?

I think of the jewelry that we wear.  We have plenty of symbols to choose from, but not much in the way of words.  I think of our clothes.  Would our lives change if we embroidered the words of God on our clothes?

I think of the tattoos that people get.  I wonder which words I would choose to be inked permanently on my body--so many to choose from.

I ponder the ways we could put God's words on our doorposts and gates.  In modern times, it wouldn't be enough.  We should put them on our car's door frames too.

I see this commandment as a bracketing device.  We never go far without remembering who has claimed us.  We move through this world of harsh words enveloped in the protective cushion of God's word.

I have been enjoying the Facebook posts from Lutheran youth at their gathering in Detroit.  That's been another way of talking about the word of God, a different way of raising up children.  The faith of the next generation has been strengthened, and what a gift that we get to watch that process and be strengthened in return.

I turn to Facebook for many reasons, and by now, I now which posts to avoid and which to seek out.  I love my friends who give me inspiration of all sorts.  I avoid those posts that are inflammatory, and I wonder why so many people seem so determined to be so angry.

Many of us are now living more of our lives online.  How would the ancient writer of Deuteronomy advise us to bracket this time with the words of God?  There are many resources out there to support our faith lives.  Sadly, there are even more sites that work to wear us down.

The passage makes clear that our faith is not just one aspect of our personalities.  It isn't just what we do on Sunday--but most of us already knew that.

Our faith should permeate every aspect of us.  We should be God-soaked people--and we do that by immersing ourselves in studying the word of God.

Most of us think about the word of God, and we begin in traditional ways.  We read the Bible, and most of our Bibles are composed of words.  We go to church where we hear and sing words.  We talk to our fellow believers.  We read our children stories at bedtime.  We have conversations over meals--more words.

There's nothing wrong with this approach, of course.  But researchers who study how humans learn show us that some of us learn better in ways that don't involve words.

As I go through the coming week, I plan to think about the words of God and the other ways we might discover the words of God that we are to imprint on ourselves and our dwellings and our children.  More on these ideas in next week's post!

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