Church sketch 9

This week I experimented more with just starting a doodle, and developing it according to something in the service if something came up that seemed to fit. One of the songs we sang in the beginning included the phrase “When we see you, we find strength to face the day”; the first part of the phrase reminded me of the beautiful essay “We would see Jesus” that I can’t find online right now — there’s understandably a lot of materials with the same title, coming from a passage in John 12.

Aha — it’s this one — the first chapter, I suppose. We read it as part of our training for a short term mission. Here’s a quotation:

Two emphases stand out today.

First of all, instead of stressing holiness in order to see God, the emphasis is on service for God. We have come to think of the Christian life as consisting in serving God as fully and as efficiently as we can. Techniques and methods, by which we hope to make God’s message known, have become the important thing. To carry out this service we need power, and so instead of a longing for God, our longing is for power to serve Him more effectively. So much has service become the centre of our thinking that very often a man’s rightness with God is judged by his success or otherwise in his Christian work.

Then there tends to be today an emphasis on the seeking of inner spiritual experiences. While so many Christians are content to live at a very low level, it is good that some do become concerned about their Christian lives, and it is right that they should. However, the concern arises not so much from a hunger for God, but from a longing to find an inner experience of happiness, joy, and power, and we find ourselves looking for “it,” rather than God Himself.

Both these ends fall utterly short of the great end that God has designed for man, that of glorifying Him and enjoying Him for ever. They fail to satisfy God’s heart and they fail to satisfy ours.

She doesn’t have any connection with any part of the service, and she shows my woeful lack of anatomical knowledge, but I like her anyway.

The sermon continued the series on choices. This one emphasized choosing the Bible as God’s Word. It was mostly the standard evangelical view — that any apparent contradictions can be reconciled, that the biblical authors agree in everything, that archaeological finds have only confirmed Bible stories, that in order to have a sufficiently high view of Scripture as the Word of God you can’t think any of it is mythological in genre, that it satisfies, gives power against temptation, convicts of sin, and changes our direction. One statement we especially appreciated was that we need to be mindful of context — verses in context of a whole book, books in context of the whole Bible, the Bible in context of culture and history.

I thought it was a little interesting to hear the phrase “as it really is” — for the speaker, that means “as the Word of God,” something decided ahead of time, a presupposition or premise or axiom — leaning on church tradition and past scholarly research and such. For me, “as it really is” is more and more meaning “the way it is as I read it, complete with troublesome bits of all kinds, and with as much recognition of my own biases and presuppositions and prior experience as I can manage,” and including a respectful questioning of church tradition and a wider reading of scholarly work.

Here’s two interesting articles I’ve read recently on the topic of what the Bible is.

This furry thing, influenced no doubt by years of Ranger Rick magazine among other things, got a Bible in its paws as the sermon began. Hardly a profound reflection on or representation of the sermon.

She has no Bible, but I like her better. I like her looking over her shoulder, unconcerned about her wind-whipped hair.

I like drawing figures.

And eyes. Again only a rudimentary understanding of the eye’s actual structure, but hey.

We sang a modernized version of “Jesus paid it all,” which includes the puzzling line about changing the leper’s spots. I guess lepers do have spots — but not this kind. And it seems likely that originally it was mishearing or misremembering Jeremiah asking “Can the leopard change his spots?” (13:23)

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