Thanks to my church springing for the registration, this past week I had the amazing privilege of virtually attending Festival of Homiletics 2023; Preaching Hope for a Weary World was this year's theme. Despite all those years of all those zoom and other distance meetings, I was surprised that being there online was quite satisfying. I'd compare it to something like no-fat salad dressing—did you know Kraft Raspberry Vinaigrette Fat Free is surprisingly good? I don't know that any ultra-low fat anything quite approaches a high calorie counterpart, but the good ones are more than adequate because you save so many calories. Sermons, lectures, short worship services at the preaching conference all came through just fine. However, closing worship via electronic screen and sound was so not enough.
Preacher for concluding worship Barbara Lundblad doesn't have her own website, though you can find her on Day1, Working Preacher, Amazon and other places. It was the last event of the 4-day conference, but… it wasn't over. It's not over. There's more! She pointed out how John 20:30 sounds like The End as it announces, "Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples that are not written in this book," but it's not over because you turn the page and there's a chapter 21 that starts: "After these things…" Although 21 turns out to be the real last chapter of John in our bibles, according to verse 25, "there are also many other things that Jesus did; if every one of them were written down, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written." So the last part of the last-written gospel account reminds us our lives are open ended as we travel with Jesus.
Chapters and Seasons
Our host Kate wrote about her daughter finishing high school; an occasion or event like graduation clearly ends a chapter, but everyone expects several more interesting and probably complicated ones will follow. Although any chapter unfolds alongside other chapters in the life of an individual, family, or community, as months and years go by, parallel chapters eventually will end, others open. I don't know how many times I've written about each of us having recognizable seasons that are similar to meteorological and astronomical ones. Sometimes we cycle through them like the planet does; sometimes we never experience a particular season again.
You probably realize scripture originally wasn't divided into chapters and verses. The Wycliffe Bible probably was the first Bible published with chapters, the Geneva Bible first with verses. I'd need to confirm it with a reliable source, but I think even the Reformers had only chapter divisions and not yet individual verses in the bibles they used. Our scriptures may not have started out with chapters, but all of us in developed countries expect discrete and overlapping chapters of adventure, change, disappointment, and surprise.
The worldwide pandemic officially is over, yet like almost everyone as Covid continues, as many have done across the decades, and as I've had to do more than I'd anticipated, I hope to turn the page into a new life chapter very soon. I'm excited to see what the next one brings.
Do you write your story in journals or notebooks with months, days, and years, in chapters or page numbers? Do you blog or instagram or facebook photos or drawings? Or do mostly your memories store your narrative?
Back in elementary school, writing a story or a paragraph to a picture the teacher provided was one of my favorite assignments. Today's header illustrates books that collectively contain hundreds of chapters on various topics. (It's also a photograph I've enjoyed editing a few dozen times.) The life chapter of those books ended eons ago, but many of the books have played a part in most of the chapters that followed. By the way, almost none of the books were or even now are as thoroughly read and almost tattered as they look. That's photoshop filters and other effects! Did I say edited a few times?
Some of the books, quite a few memories, even some hopes from back in those days have made it into succeeding chapters. The next chapter? All I know is God has gone ahead of me. I'm still weary, but I'll walk safely and surely in resurrection hope.
sounds like you had an excellent conference! I'm glad to hear that. FMF17ReplyDelete
From your post, I learned something about when bible verses and chapters began. Thanks! And I agree about the FF raspberry vinaigrette, too. Excellent post!ReplyDelete
They hold the Bible in their hand,ReplyDelete
give you chapter, give you verse,
but they do not understand
it's less blessing than a curse
because narrative context's lost,
slogan replacing story,
and this exacts a fearful cost
on God's love and glory
'cause words themselves are elevated
to equal that which He has done,
and many who have contemplated
faith would rather turn and run
than hear the Scripture-vanity
of bumper-sticker Christianity.