I've just come home from worship with the community at Greyfriars Kirk, Edinburgh. Richard Frazer led worship and preached, and I heard in his reflections on the Sacred Story resonances with my own ideas, ideas that weave through my thesis. Here are some rambling attempts to bottle the good stuff I heard (Sunday 22 January).
What is most interesting about the Bible is what it is yet to become. Richard cited these words of another, and my heart said, yes! That is how a storyteller approaches the Sacred Story – seeking to discover what it may become in her as she embodies it, amongst the community as she tells it aloud, and in the listeners as they take it to heart. What will the Story become?
Those in power are right to be afraid, for the Bible has potential to become liberation when its stories are enfleshed in those who receive it. In so many places in the world, Richard told us, the Bible came with Empire. But within it, the Bible held a story of liberation from Empire (or many stories of liberation from many different empires, actually), so that when those who the Empire would oppress and suppress listen to the Story of God, inhabit it, and embody it, the story becomes empowerment, becomes resistance, becomes liberation.
I am mindful of those in positions of power (most of which would be enacted more effectively when remembering they are positions of service, but I digress) today who wield the Bible like a weapon to oppress. Look out! That Book holds stories that will be your undoing. We will take the Sacred Story and we will give it flesh, and you will see empowered people, resisting people, liberated people. Yes. Be afraid.
For we must attend to discernment, intuition and integrity, in our embodying of the Bible, our seeking for what it will become in us and through us. It is not a story of oppression, of division, of persecution (though, yes, there are stories of the ancient nation of God's people who do overcome their neighbours). It does not become a weapon and maintain its integrity as the story of God. When you use it like that, you have turned it into something else, something that it actually is not.
The hallmarks of the Bible in its various becomings are signs of grace and love; are citizens of the realm of God; are joy, forgiveness, elegance.
Fear. Greed. Arrogance. Not signs of the the Bible. Not hallmarks of the Story of God.
The Bible is a lens through which we begin to make sense of our lives. When it remains as fleshless, artless word it will bring us down. The Bible must be enfleshed in our living if it is to live itself; enfleshed with the secret life of the Spirit moving through it and through us so that we are participants in the story, and God's story becomes part of ours.
This was the enfleshed word this morning in the community of faith at Greyfriars, as our minister mediated God's call: What might the Bible yet become in you, and in me?