Yearning for More
The Rev. Dr. Judy Fentress-Williams, my Old Testament professor at Virginia Theological Seminary, would read a quote on the first day of Intro to Old Testament. The quote is actually from a book about poetry, How to Read a Poem by Edward Hirsch. It’s how he starts his book:
Read these poems to yourself in the middle of the night. Turn on a single lamp and read them while you’re alone in an otherwise dark room or while someone else sleeps next to you. Read them when you’re wide awake in the early morning, fully alert. Say them over to yourself in a place where silence reigns and the din of the culture — the constant buzzing noise that surrounds us — has momentarily stopped. These [words] have come from a great distance to find you.
And then, Dr. Fentress-Williams would invite us to think about reading scripture as one might read poetry, with an understanding that the words have a surplus of meaning, that the interpretations are inexhaustible. That each word is meaningful, meaning-full. That somehow, the words are lithe and polyvalent, they shimmer differently in different contexts, as a gem might shimmer in different types of light. That these words have meaning in our own context and time and place. Which is to say that scripture is very much alive.
Which is to say that scripture should be a part of life, part of living.
Recently I got pulled into a conversation with Scott Gunn and Miriam McKenney of Forward Movement for the Evangelism Matters Audio conference. We were having a conversation about discipleship and forming disciples. Scott and Miriam talked about Renewal Works research, and how 73% of Episcopalians (by their own admission) are neither deepening nor fully centered in their faith. The top three things that indicated a deeper connection with God and a vibrant spiritual life were these:
- Engagement with scripture
- Transforming power of the Eucharist
- A deeper prayer life
Which is to say that if you want to deepen your relationship with God, the single best thing you can do is engage with scripture daily. (Weekly Eucharist and daily prayer is important too!) But scripture is the first. Because scripture, with its divinely-inspired inexhaustible meaning, has the power to speak directly into the life that you’re living right now. God speaks in many ways, but God very often speaks out of the ages and directly to you through Scripture. When scripture begins to get into your bones, exactly what you need, be it comfort or strength or guidance, will come to mind. If you read scripture every day, and keep reading it every day, scripture can and will transform you.
You don’t have to be a biblical scholar to start reading. You don’t need to know Greek or Hebrew. You don’t even need a study bible. A great place to start is with a gospel (Matthew, Mark, Luke or John, your choice, or flip a coin a few times). Just start at the beginning of the gospel and keep on going. And then contact me, and we’ll have a conversation about going deeper. Maybe I’ll recommend Dr. Fentress-Williams new book, Holy Imagination, or maybe we’ll get you on a reading plan, or find a bible study.
God longs to speak to you, be in relationship with you, every single day, through scripture. So, “read these poems to yourself in the middle of the night…” and let God speak through them.
Grace and peace,
The Rev. Canon Becky Zartman
Every Member Canvass
If you have yet to make a pledge commitment for 2021 but are planning to financially support Christ Church Cathedral this year, please know that there is still time to make your pledge online, over the phone, or via email. We are so grateful for the continued support of the Cathedral’s mission in the year ahead!
Ways to make your pledge:
- Pledging online is easy.
- Return the pledge card you received by mail to 1117 Texas Ave, Houston, TX 77002.
- Make a pledge over the phone at 713-590-3338 or by email by contacting Karen Kraycirik, minister for stewardship.
Ways to pay your pledge:
- Go online to make an electronic payment via credit or debit card. You can also set up recurring payments via this form.
- Donate using PayPal via the Cathedral’s website: christchurchcathedral.org/give/
- Text the word “Give” to 888-998-1634
- Send a check to the Cathedral address: 1117 Texas Street, Houston, TX, 77002.
- Make a gift of stock or securities, using our stock donation instructions.
Learn more about this year's EMC at: christchurchcathedral.org/emc