Our texts this week came from Deuteronomy 30, Psalm 1, and Luke 14.
In Deuteronomy, Moses in a farewell speech reminds the Israelites to focus on God’s Torah, God’s teaching. In Psalm 1, we are told to meditate on the Torah day and night. And in Luke 14, Jesus tells us that the cost of discipleship may include hating mother, father, brother, sister, children, and even ourselves.
This is Highlander. You have probably heard of him before and he was the inspiration for my sermon on Sunday.
This little guy had a smoked beef bone and while he was gnawing on it he didn’t care about [other] toys, other treats. He didn’t even care about his mommy and this boy is a mama’s boy. THAT is why he was the inspiration for my sermon this week.
In Luke 14, it is surprising for us to hear Jesus say that we need to hate, let alone hate these people who are very central to your lives. Jesus is not using ‘hate’ in the same sense that we tend to think about it in our own lives. Instead, Jesus is going to the extreme in order to grab our attention, so that he can make a point.
While Highlander was gnawing on that smoked beef bone, its not that he hated other treats. Its not that he hated his toys. Or that he even hated me. But, that smoked beef bone had his undivided attention and we are called to give our undivided attention to God.
In the Psalm, Psalm 1, we are told to meditate on the Torah day and night. [And] The word to meditate is better translated as ‘to gnaw’, like a dog gnawing on a bone.
The process of faith formation, of spiritual development, of connecting with the divine is a life-long process and we do that by gnawing on different bones. We experience each one of these bones in our lives and yet usually we each have a favorite bone to gnaw on. The three most common would be devotional, experience, and intellectual.
Devotional is when we read a piece of scripture or a devotional text and spend time wrestling with it, about how it fits in with our knowledge and our personal experience. What this does is intially engages us at an emotional and gut level; and then, we have to wrestle with it through our experience and our intellect.
The second one is experience. This can happen in worship, it can happen when we’re serving one another, it can happen when we are walking down the street and we see a flower peaking up out of a slab of concrete and we know God is present in that time, in that place. [And] We have to ponder it. It causes us to ponder God’s presence and we have to reflect on that both emotionally and intellectually.
The third one is intellectual. [And] Its when we hear information and it intially engages our brain, our mind and then we have to wrestle with our gut reaction to it. Did we intially go ‘hmm, that makes sense’ or ‘huh, that didn’t set right and that doesn’t mash with my personal experience’. We have to wrestle with what we hear and what we learn; and how that fits into our experience and that intital gut reaction.
My prayer for us is that we can each be more like Highlander, that we can each spend more time with undivided attention gnawing on the bone that is God’s Torah, His teachings, God’s presence in our space, in our time.
So, go get gnawing on some bones! Amen.
Scriptures: Deuteronomy 30: 15-20; Psalm 1; Luke 14: 25-33
Sermon Originally Preached on 4 September 2016.