Rarely, ever so rarely, these newsletter articles write themselves.
A few weeks ago, when we started this sermon series on the Gifts of the Holy Spirit, I talked about counsel and the marvelous adventure of Larry Walters, the man who flew in a balloon-covered lawnchair. Today (Tuesday) in Calgary, Daniel Boria (age 26) was arrested on one count of mischief causing danger to life when he went on his own helium-filled escapade. Do we, as humans, ever learn? And if so, do we understand what we learn?
You may have noticed we have a reading from the Psalter every week; the Psalms are beautiful poems for worship that call on God in no uncertain terms to participate in life with us—give us knowledge, forgive our shortcomings, grant us wisdom, help us listen, etc. This week’s Psalm is the longest of the bunch—number 119. (Don’t worry, we’re reading about twelve verses from it.) What’s neat is that Psalm 119 is one big acrostic—in Hebrew, it can be broken into 22 sections, with all eight verses per section beginning with a letter of the Hebrew alphabet, in alphabetical order. The legend behind this Psalm is that it’s what David used to teach Solomon not only the alphabet, but the alphabet of faith.
And I like that phrase, “the alphabet of faith.” Did Solomon understand? He was wise, so they say; he had counsel around him; he was courageous—but did he understand? Dare we try?
Understanding is applying all the rest of these gifts—knowledge, wisdom, courage, counsel, reverence, and wonder and awe—to the whole picture. This Sunday, the text from Acts is one of my favorites (I know I say that a lot; I do really like the Bible) that I’ve never preached on, never heard a sermon on, and am finding really weird stuff in the commentaries on. It’s about the Apostle Paul preaching so long that he causes a guy to fall out of a window and die. (He gets better.) Maybe it’s not preached on because the comparisons are too easy to make, I don’t know—but we’ll see if we can’t find some understanding on Sunday, right? I look forward to seeing you then.