First Thoughts From The Rev. Canon David Smith: 

Most weeks Fr. David sends out an e-mail with his first thoughts on the upcoming Sunday readings. These reflections are designed to encourage people to consider the readings before they come to worship which we hope will enrich Sunday worship. People are invited to respond to David with their own thoughts and sometimes interesting ideas and conversations occur that end up in the sermon. If you would like to receive these weekly e-mails e-mail David at dsmith@ontario.anglican.ca  . 

Readings for Sunday, October 20, 2013

Posted by Emily Sanderson on Thursday, October 24, 2013 Under: Weekly Reflections

Hi again everyone,

After a break for Thanksgiving, we are back to Jeremiah 31:27-34.  However the message is considerably brighter than the last time we listened to the lamentation of the weeping prophet.  In fact a theme from the Old Testament reading is hope. We are going from the absolute darkness of exile to the light of God’s Day. This reading speaks of God’s faithfulness. Notice how all the  promises are in the first person,

" I will make a new covenant; I will put my law within them; I will write it in their hearts; I will be their God; I will forgive their iniquity and remember their sins no more."  

God is initiating a new relationship that is possible only because of forgiveness.   This forgiveness allows Israel to begin at a new place with new possibilities.  The new law will be written in their hearts.

What does this mean to have the law written in our hearts?  

This would be an excellent question to pose, and answer, (or at least attempt to answer) in a sermon.

 It also leads to a strong theme in some of the other readings, which direct our attention to the Word of God as being such an important, and wonderful gift for us. As Psalm 119:97-104 proclaims:

 “How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth”.

The law or written precepts are something to be loved, meditated on, kept, and tasted.

And then in 2 Timothy 3:14-4:5 Paul encourages Timothy to persevere as a Christian leader by reminding him of the faith he received as a child onward through reading and listening to sacred scripture. Scripture which is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, correction, and for training in righteousness is what Timothy is to base his ministry upon and is what will enable him to persevere. Of course this is also true for us today.

 So I think at this point I am tempted to preach on the importance of Scripture and to  try to encourage people in reading and studying it.  The National Church Development (NCD) survey has two questions that draw a direct correlation between the scripture being a guide to everyday living and the enjoyment of reading scripture with the health of a Christian community.  

I know that I do not read scripture nearly enough which is why I am so grateful that I have to preach every week.   I have been encouraged in my faith by the study I put into writing a sermon.  It is a blessing to me to have spent time reading and rereading the text. I am reminded of the great collect in our prayer books that asks us to read, mark, learn and inwardly digest God’s Holy Word.  For, as the psalmist says, it is sweeter than honey.

 I wish that we could come up with a way to have every home develop the spiritual discipline of Bible reading.  The literal translation for inspired is “God breathed” which to me means that Scripture can breathe new life into us.   So imagine the wonderful consequence of everyone prayerfully reading Scripture on their own, as a family and in small groups as well as in worship.   Sometimes when I am visiting an ill person and begin to read comforting passages it is lovely when the person finishes the verse because they have inwardly digested it and it inspires them in their time of need and it is on the tip of their tongue.

I know this all sounds like  platitudes and the reality is that the Bible is a difficult book to read for many reasons but nevertheless I agree with the Old Testament scholar who entitled one of his books “The  Bible Makes Sense”.   He meant this in two ways, we can understand it but more importantly the Bible makes sense of our lives.

What are your favourite verses? What text or story from the Bible has had the deepest impact upon you?

 I know the Sermon on the Mount was the first Bible passage to really speak to me. I was mesmerized by our Lord’s teachings and somehow I knew that He was special.

The Gospel does not seem to have much to do with scripture but rather with prayer and the call to persevere to not lose heart, a theme in our readings.

 Do you see any other themes in this week’s readings? What would you preach on?

Thank you for reading the readings ahead of worship and for allowing me the opportunity to start grappling with the texts. I think by doing so we are beginning to live into the Psalmists prayer:

"Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all day long"

God bless

David

 
The Rev. Canon David Smith
Stewardship and Congregational Development Coordinator
Diocese of Ontario

Office: 613-544-4774 ext. 132 cell: 613-929-2757


 





In : Weekly Reflections 


Tags: jeremiah forgiveness scripture as a foundation for living scripture as a foundation for a healthy christian community