You will often hear the Bible referred to ask the “Word of God.” When some people hear that they think it means that the Bible is God’s words, dictated to a scribe who wrote them down. Most Presbyterians don’t mean that when we speak of God’s Word. We believe the Bible was written down by a lot of people over centuries. We believe they were inspired by the Spirit to write as they did, and we understand that they were also humans, formed by their own social and historical context. They were capable of error in relating that history, or the scientific or social beliefs of their time. But the way they responded to the God who called them to write is deeply true: an amazing, moving, reliable record of how human beings encounter the divine.
The Hebrew word, davar, often translated as “word” also means idea, message, concept, the subject about which one speaks. The Bible is God’s davar, God’s message. The Gospel according to John adds yet another dimension for Christians in saying that Christ is the Word made flesh; that the message of God became the messenger.
One of the things that I find most compelling about the Word of the Bible is that it does not come to us primarily as a set of rules, or as theory, though there are rules and theories in the Bible. The Bible begins as story, as a message told through the lives of the men and women in its pages, through the Old Testament story about Abraham and Sarah, Moses and Miriam, David and Ruth, and in the New Testament story about Jesus of Nazareth and his disciples. Each individual story adds up to tell one big story, the story of God choosing us as partners in the creation and redemption of the world and sharing with us the saving power of the gospel in order to make that mission possible. It’s a big story, a wonderful story, a challenging story.
This Sunday, I am going to attempt to tell that big story in place of the regular sermon. I will begin with “In the beginning,” and tell the big and important highlights of the story in about 15 minutes. You are welcome to join us for this experience, one that will celebrate God’s message and possibly inspire some new chapters in the ongoing story we are living together.