February 2022 Pastor’s Article

Several years ago there was a national library advertising campaign called “geek the library.”   The campaign would feature library patrons with something they loved.  So for instance if someone loved baseball it might show them with a bat and glove.  These ads then used geek as a verb.  So in the baseball example it would state “I geek baseball.”  The idea is that the library was the community’s source to find more about what one was most interested in.

An after action analysis found that this campaign was fairly successful for libraries.  What I found interesting though was the intentional use as geek as a verb.   The word is typically a noun, but the library campaign used it as a verb to describe “passionately liking something.”  That works well because at the end of the day what makes someone a geek about anything is the love they have for it.   Often geeky things tend to involve fantastical elements, but what makes those things geeky is the passionate love that people have for them.

The Bible contains a few geeks, people who really indulge their passionate love of something.  One of the things that people in the Bible geek out over is scripture.  One of the best examples in the Bible of people passionately loving scripture comes from Nehemiah.  The story in Nehemiah takes place after the return from exile.   Under Ezra the temple had been rebuilt, and then under Nehemiah’s leadership the walls of Jerusalem were restored.  To mark this joyous occasion and to celebrate, all of the people gathered together.  They all gathered back together in the holy city for a grand festival.  And how did they celebrate?   They read the scripture.   They read the books of law found in the Torah such as Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers.   The celebration goes on for seven days.  Nehemiah 8:18 records, “Day after day, from the first day to the last, Ezra read from the Book of the Law of God.”   This section of Nehemiah also records, “From the days of Joshua, son of Nun until that day, the Israelites had not celebrated it like this.  And their joy was very great.”    The heart of this joyous celebration was worship centered on the readings of divinely inspired scripture.

Unfortunately we do not find the scriptures quite celebrated like that anymore.  A 2017 survey found that almost 80% of Americans believe the Bible is inspired by God, but only 48% actually opened a Bible at least once in the past year.   The single biggest reason people give for not reading the Bible more is that they do not have time, but we all know that is not entirely true.  None of us is that busy that we do not have a few minutes a day to read.  We tend to always make space for those things we value the most.   The way people portray the things they are geeks about shows this.  We will spend hours on the stuff we passionately love because it is important to us and it fills us with joy.   This then causes us to ask the question: “Does our engagement with the Bible reflect that it is important to us and bring us joy?”

Obviously, that is a question we have to answer for ourselves.   Personally, all I can do is share with you why the Bible is important to me and why it brings me so much joy.   The Bible fills me with joy, because it reveals who God is.  I affirm the witness of the church throughout the ages that the Bible is divinely inspired and as such it is our primary source on God.   The Bible contains God’s love story with humanity, where the God of all creation fights to win back the hearts and minds of a beloved creation.  The Bible is full of an imperfect people being courted by a perfect God.  For that reason it can be messy and sometimes uncomfortable.  However, the Bible also has a depth that never seems to run out.  No matter how much I read it again and again I continue to discover new things about God and new things about myself.

That is why I love the scriptures and why they fill me with joy.  I hope you have similar feelings.  We make the time for the stuff we love and are most passionate about.   So may you make time for Holy Scriptures.   If it has been a while since you have really engaged with the Bible, then may you not let guilt keep you away.  May you read the scriptures and may it fill you with joy.

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