"Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet..." Psalm 119:105
There's a story about Augustine, the 5th century Bishop of the church and a saint in history. He originally led a life of sin giving himself over to whatever pleasures presented themselves. His mother had earnestly prayed that he would give his life to the service of Christ, but Augustine persisted in his sins until one day he sat with a friend on a bench weeping over the state of his life. It was at this moment that he heard a boy or girl - he says he does not know which - singing a song. The sound was coming from a neighboring house. The child was chanting over and over: "Pick it up, read it; pick it up; read it." Here is what happened next in Augustine's own words:
"Immediately I ceased weeping and began most earnestly to think whether it was usual for children in some kind of game to sing such a song, but I could not remember ever having heard the like. So, damming the torrent of my tears, I got to my feet, for I could not but think that this was a divine command to open the Bible and read the first passage I should light upon.
So I quickly returned to the bench where Alypius was sitting, for there I had put down the apostles book. I snatched it up, opened it, and in silence read the paragraph on which my eyes first fell: "Not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying, but put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh to fulfill the lust thereof."(Romans 13:13-14) I wanted to read no further, nor did I need to. For instantly, as the sentence ended, there was infused in my heart something like the light of full certainty and all the gloom of doubt vanished away."
Throughout history there is story after story of great saints and not-so-well-known sinners whose lives were transformed by scripture. Today studies have been done seeking to find what keeps people engaged and growing in their faith. The one common denominator? You probably guessed, the Bible. Even for people well along in their faith journey, the Bible is the key source for continued growth and vitality in faith.
We all get put off by Bible-thumping, self-righteous folks who use scripture to threaten and judge more than to offer hope and life. But this doesn't change the fact that the Bible is still the primary medium in the Christian life for spiritual encouragement.
What a great time this is to invite people to join you for worship at St. Luke's. I feel certain in promising there will be many Sundays as we travel through the story of the Bible, that a scripture will be read, or a biblical story told, that provides a breakthrough for someone or an experience of God that was just what they needed that day. So I look forward not only to seeing you in these weeks ahead but meeting the guests you bring. Please be sure to introduce me to people you invite. I love those opportunities to give a personal welcome.
See you Sunday,