Saturday, October 13, 2007

The Friday Five

Quoting from RevGalPalBlog:

"Does everyone remember the old Sunday School song?
The B-I-B-L-E,
Oh, that's the book for me.
I take my stand on the Word of God,
The B-I-B-L-E.

I have been working on an expansive language version of the Psalms and the Liturgy of the Hours/Divine Office/Breviary. (For you non-liturgical gals and pals, that's a set of prayers for morning, noon, evening, etc., mostly consisting of Psalms and other biblical texts).So I have been thinking a lot about the Bible recently, and how we encounter it as God's Word--or don't--in our lives, prayer, and ministry. (Great minds think somewhat alike this week, as yesterday's Ask The Matriarch post dealt with ways to help as many people in a community as possible engage with a scriptural text in preparation for Sunday worship).So, in that spirit, I offer my first Friday Five. I'm looking forward to hearing everyone's experience and reflection on these B-I-B-L-E questions:"

1. What is your earliest memory of encountering a biblical text?
I started going to Sunday school as an infant because my mom and aunt taught the nursery and kindergarden classes, so I know I heard Bible stories from the start. Three stories that I remember from early childhood are of the loaves and fishes feeding the multitudes, the sick man being lowered through the roof of the house, and of course the entry into in Jerusalem. I think these stick because we either acted them out or made models of them. (I also remember building Succoth booths in Sunday school in the fall). A couple of Psalms too --- Psalm 51:verses 10-12, and Psalm 100, are stuck indelibly in early memory.

I do remember the pride and great joy I felt as a second grader, receiving my very own Bible.

2. What is your favorite biblical translation, and why? (You might have a few for different purposes).
My favorite translation is the NRSV for its clarity, and for the wonderful footnotes and context info my 2 NRSV translations provide. (The New Oxford Annotated Bible, and the New Interpreters Study Bible). My original RSV Bible is the one by my bedside however, for comfort and familiarity.
3. What is your favorite book of the Bible? Your favorite verse/passage?

I can't claim a favorite book of the Bible, though there are books I gravitate to. I am drawn to Mark's gospel, I think, because it's so spare and unadorned. I've always loved verses 16-18 from I Thessalonians, Ch 5: Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing, give thanks in all cirmcumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. The Psalms are also well-read, and well-prayed.
4. Which book of the Bible do you consider, in Luther's famous words about James, to be "an epistle of straw?" Which verse(s) make you want to scream?

I can't say there's one book that fits this description. Some of Paul's comments in general make me crazy, but once I consider context, I'm less bothered.

5. Inclusive language in biblical translation and liturgical proclamation: for, against, or neutral?

Although the traditional language never bothered me, I am for inclusive language, in biblical translation, hymns, and service. Although avoiding the use of gender pronouns sometimes makes passages awkward, I find this awkwardness to be what we teachers call a "teachable moment." God is not male or female, and when I struggle to find gender-neutral words, it reminds me that I can't define God in human image -- that I'm made in God's image, not the other way around. With that being said, it is hard to sing some of the traditional hymns "by heart" and I like how my church handles this. We use the New Century Hymnal most often, but still also use the Pilgrim Hymnal. We place a note in our bulletin that says something to the effect that we recognize that although sometimes our language fails to be inclusive, the meaning is meant to include all.
Bonus: Back to the Psalms--which one best speaks the prayer of your heart?

This can change. The ones that I return to most often are Psalm 121, Psalm 63, Psalm 100, verses 10-12 of Psalm 51, and Psalm 139.


Mother Laura said...

Thanks for your reflections on inclusive language, and those beautiful psalms.

Paula said...

I find the Book of Psalms to be the easiest way to find my way to God for the day. There seems to always be something that speaks to my situation at the moment. Psalm 139 is one of my favorites and I have most of it memorized. That Psalm marked a major deepening of my faith many years ago.