Pastor’s Friday Comments (05.29.20)

When we began worship in our homes rather than in the church building, I greatly missed the connection with the small group of people who had been gathering faithfully each Sunday morning at 9 a.m. for The Beginning. However, I have also found that the material I am assembling for that virtual meeting is very meaningful for me for my personal devotional time (even taking into account those annoying YouTube commercials that occasionally pop up when I play the music.)

I usually seclude myself in the basement to participate in that service. The first week, as I began I realized that I had not brought my Bible downstairs with me. Rather than use the Bible app on my phone, I reached for the only Bible on the nearby shelf. It was a very worn copy of a Scofield Reference Edition of the King James Version that had belonged to my favorite aunt.

Only the biblical scholars among us will recognize that the Scofield Reference Bible was one of the most effectively used tools in the development of the modern fundamentalist movement. The Reverend C. I. Scofield’s copious notes, which he called “a new system of connected topical references to all the greater themes of Scripture”, were designed to lead the reader to consider the Scriptures in a specific way that would almost compel one to draw a particular conclusion – a conclusion largely discredited by modern biblical scholarship.

The translation Scofield used was the King James or “Authorized” edition, the one most of us over fifty grew up with, and, while it was hard to get back to reading the Elizabethan English, I found the sound of the words, not just their meaning, incredibly comforting in this time of global and personal stress.

This Sunday is Pentecost, a day when we recognize the on-going work of the Holy Spirit in the Church. My aunt’s Bible, to me, represents that on-going work. The Spirit of God, made evident in the life and teachings of Jesus Christ and revealed through the testimony of Scripture, continues to work. It can work in my life through an application of the sacred texts, even when they are communicated in archaic language and surrounded by notes with which I don’t personally agree. It can work through the memory of an aunt whose well-worn Bible, filled with handwritten notes, bears testimony to her own study of Scripture. It can work through quiet contemplation and prayer when we can’t gather and it can work through the encouragement of one another when we are in the same place.

We are probably living through the most critical and challenging period that most of us will ever face. How we come through this, individually and collectively, may determine the future of our culture, our country, and the Church. As followers of Jesus Christ, we need the presence of his Spirit as much as we ever have. This weekend, pray as you have never prayed before that this Spirit will permeate your life.