Just as the worlds were not written into existence but rather were spoken into being, so also should we hear the Word and not merely see it.
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Over the course of the last few days, I’ve been reading C. S. Lewis – A Life: Eccentric Genius, Reluctant Prophet, Alister McGrath’s 2013 biography of the celebrated Oxford don and (obvious to those who know me remotely well) my own favorite writer. Though I’ve read much (if not most) of his work and not a few biographies of his life (even his own Surprised by Joy), I’m finding myself struck anew by Lewis’s emphasis on the voiced word–– his insistence that literature is most fittingly to be heard not simply read.
Since Trinity Sunday, our congregation has been walking through the Old Testament together, and for the last couple of weeks, we’ve been looking at the Psalms. (This coming Sunday, I plan to preach from perhaps my personal favorite: the 121st.) Back on task… This past Sunday, preaching on the 113th (a more obscure one [intentionally] than that of the previous Sunday: the 23rd), I encouraged our congregation to make use of the Psalms (i.e., the Bible’s prayerbook and “hymnal”) in a three-fold manner:
- Use the Psalms daily.
- Use the Psalms audibly.
- Use the Psalms prayerfully.
Having had my curiosity piqued by Lewis’s encouragement toward hearing the sound of a literary work, I’ve made a few theological/biblical observations of late…
- Concerning the story of creation… God spoke. Further, He dialogued.
- Concerning the prophets of Israel/Judah… They proclaimed the word of Yahweh primarily, recording it in writing generally only secondarily.
- Concerning the ministry of Rabbis… They generally taught disciples rather than write books.
- Concerning the life of Jesus… He was never known to have written anything but perhaps a few cryptic words in the dirt. (His disciples also considered Him a Rabbi.)
- Concerning the Gospel of Christ… It was proclaimed long before it was written. In fact, upon seeing the Resurrected Lord, Mary Magdalene was instructed to go and tell the disciples, not to go and record her findings and thoughts.
What does all of this mean? I have no idea at this point. Perhaps it all only points to odd and bygone phenomena of an ancient time and culture. Nonetheless, my attention has been grabbed.
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How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written:
How beautiful are the feet of those
Who preach the gospel of peace,
Who bring glad tidings of good things!
-St. Paul to the Romans
(10:14-15; cf. Isaiah 52:7 and Nahum 1:15)