LISTENING TO SCRIPTURE

Time and again Jesus instructs his disciples and others in his audience to listen.  “He who has ears to hear, let him hear,” Jesus repeats.  We have come to understand that for Scripture to have the greatest impact on our lives, we must ask ourselves, ‘what does it mean to me?’ Where is it touching me most deeply?  Where am I most affected, and perhaps made uncomfortable, by the Scripture passage?

As we ask these questions, we are better able to see how God might be a part of the situation in the text—and my situation as well.  We are invited to have a personal encounter with the verses we choose to read in the Bible, a prelude to the kind of encounter that God wants to have with each of us.

Look again at the parable of the sower and the soils.  Many interpretations have been given of the various kinds of soil, and even the sower and the grain that finally emerges from the good soil.  But this time you are invited to make your own personal interpretation.

Scripture: Matthew 13:3-8

A sower went out to sow.  And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them.  Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they had not much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, but when the sun rose they were scorched; and since they had no root they withered away.  Other seeds fell upon thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them.  Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.

Residents of Haven House, a residential treatment center for addition,  were asked to listen carefully as the story was read several times and then share whatever they would of the responses they had and the insights that came to them as they pondered at a deeper level what the story might be saying to them.  All of them related the story to their own stories.

One man noticed that the sower lost a lot of seed but gained a great deal in the end.

Another suggested that we need to plant ourselves around a church family so we don’t wither.

Still another suggested that the thorns in the story represent the wrong people we associate with.

One said it seemed to him that to do good, one has to give up something to gain something else.

Another said we must prepare our heart in a way that we have to prepare soil to receive the good seed.

And finally one said we don’t know how our crop will turn out but we want to be good soil so we can produce a good crop.

What varied and insightful responses!  And all from individuals who chose to listen to Scripture with new ears, and with a heart ready to receive and embrace.

What about you?  I invite you to choose a favorite Bible story and sit with it long enough to let it say new things to you.  I believe you will be enriched by what happens to you.

March 2017

(Note: A number of additional meditations are available on this website under Meditations.)

Ann Glover O’Dell

It’s Our Story!

To see the Jesus narrative as our story does not diminish the life and death of Jesus.  On the contrary, to see ourselves as God’s beloved child, with the capability of engaging in a unique relationship with God, just as Jesus was, can’t help but enrich his story.  To see in the story not only the human/divine nature of Jesus but also the human/divine nature of all human beings is to complete the picture.

Our interest in all classic stories is enhanced by seeing something of ourselves in one or more of the characters.  Both fiction and non-fiction give us opportunities to identify with real or imagined characters, to better  understand ourselves, to see new paths opening up for us, to gain new  tolerance and sensitivity to others’ situations, and to find comfort in sorrow.

The Bible doubles as Christian mythology where larger-than-life characters capture our imagination.  We identify with Abram as he is called to leave familiar surroundings, with Joseph as he is scorned by his siblings, with Jonah as he resents the change of heart that occurs with the Ninevites.  Classic literature and mythology always develop characters who embody some of our own traits.  Otherwise, we could never identify with the tragic heroes as we do.

The soul we credit with belonging to every human being is nothing less than the essence of our divinity, the piece of God planted in each of us, not to give us bragging rights but to give us the abundant life Jesus spoke of, the ability to be the person God begat us to be.

A story presents so many more possibilities if interpreted on multiple levels.  Can we not imagine that God wants us to glean the most possible from the stories told in Scripture?  That God wants us to learn from the stories and characters to understand more about who we are and how He loves us?  Oh, let us imagine greatly!

Seasonally Out of Sorts

We are seasonally out of sorts.

Winter did not come

and spring has usurped summer

o’erleaping gradual emergence

making handsprings of blossom

cancelling whatever June

might have had in mind.

Praise God for liturgically

wedding us to predictable chronology

where Easter follows Lent

regardless of the weather.

And after Resurrection plus five o

praise God again

for giving  feast of fire and air

grounding us afresh on Mother Earth.

Our wings are lifted up

Our spirits fanned to flame

Our breath the breath of God

We see ourselves as burning bush

And repeat our own “I Am.”

 

Ann Glover O’Dell

20 February 2017

Transformation

Transformation

that large leaped word

that bounds o’er time and space

and new makes the all of me.

An instant only needed

the Spirit took to do its work

within my still frail frame.

The memory repeats its pulsing

through the channels it devised

keeping me aware always

of once upon a time

the moment I became made new.

Ann Glover O’Dell

17 March 2009