ECCLESIOLOGICAL ETCHINGS January 27, 2023 In Shel Silverstein’s book, "The Giving Tree," we learn at the very beginning of the story how the tree loved the little boy. What if, upon reading those words, you scoffed at the story and tossed it aside because there is no way a tree could love a boy? "That’s foolishness," you tell yourself. "Why would I want to read such nonsense?" A literal reading of the story, with a naive understanding of the anthropomorphic literary device, can leave a person missing the point. I might even say that it leaves a person unable to perceive the beauty and depth of the story. Too often, people attempt to read a piece of literature with the wrong eyes and incorrect expectations. A lot of people assume the Bible is to be read literally, every "jot and tittle," because it is the Bible. But let’s remember that when people were writing, editing, collecting, merging, and combining stories, poetry, prophetic utterances, songs, wisdom sayings, letters, etc., they were not saying to themselves, "Wow! It is such a privilege to be putting together what will become the best-selling book in history." Instead, they were using creativity and imagination to speak about mystery, emotional experiences, and unexplainable moments of awe. Had they attempted to explain in a very literal way what they had encountered, it would have been dull and devoid of life. When we strip away an assumed literal approach, the Bible comes alive in ways people have often missed.
Provide me a new spirit of expectation, O God, as I approach the amazing and sacred expressions of faithfulness shared by people generations ago. Let me be inspired to experience just a hint of what they experienced. Amen.