Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Memorizing Scripture

The other night at our Charge Conference (that is the connectional decision making body for the local church in United Methodist governance) the chair of our Administrative Board began the opening devotional by reciting Psalm 100 from memory. I was taken at how powerful that simple action was. Had you asked me beforehand if there would be much of a difference between him reading it or reciting it from memory I would have responded that I didn’t think it would matter, but it did. That brief experience really convicted me about what we are about to do as we move into the second component of our series of series “Season with the Savior.”

During “That’s What the Man Said: Key Teachings of Jesus” February 7-March 14, 2010, we will offer one key verse each week and challenge members of the congregation to memorize it. It will be my job to offer some resources and tools and give some encouragement to people who are committing to this discipline.

I have to admit that this is new to me. Remember, I didn’t grow up in the church so I never did “Sword Drills” or any other memory work in Sunday school. But as I have been thinking about how we are going to do this, I have become more and more convinced about how vital and important it is.

I believe that scripture tells us that God wants scripture to be more than something on our shelves; God wants it to be in our hearts. Deuteronomy 6:6 reads,

Keep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart.

God wants the word to dwell in us, to be part of our very being. Colossians 3:16 reads,

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God.

If you have ever taken a Bible class with me, you might know that, for me, this is not as simple as memorizing key passages. I want people to know the overarching story of the Bible and the message that is heard from knowing the entire narrative of God’s relationship with God’s people. Just memorizing scripture doesn’t do this. However, when you combine the memorization of scripture with a life of comprehensive Bible study, these memorized passages become mental bookmarks. One verse calls to mind more than that verse. It calls to mind where it fits in the overarching story of redemption. It becomes a bookmark to remember all of God’s word to us.

I challenge you to try it. Our first verse will come Sunday, February 7th. We will cover it in worship and then have the whole week to memorize and live with it. I look forward to hearing how it goes and how this time with scripture affects individuals and the congregation as a whole.

Don’t know where to start? Check back on the weblog, I will be posting some tricks, tips and resources in the coming days.



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