Thanksgiving for the Word

It is early morning on this Thanksgiving Day 2010. I alone am awake, looking out the back window of a Gatlinburg cabin at the river running below. Many blessings come to my mind, and before I begin a day that may end up being more self-indulgence than thanksgiving, I want to meditate on a blessing that has become more dear to me this past year.

This year I have been preparing myself for a career in theology, focusing on historical theology. Most of my work concerns the late medieval and reformation periods. Today, my reading reminded me of what the reformation really accomplished. Well into the reformation, Luther reflected that an aspiring theologian now has “a major advantage: he has the Bible.” Luther meant not merely that Bibles were available for study, for that had always been the case for professional theologians; he meant “that laymen now demanded that theologians furnish biblical grounds for their statements. They had to be experienced in Scripture-based argumentation and to have acquired criteria to assess the relative significance of various biblical passages” (Oberman, Luther, 168). In other words, whether Protestant or Catholic, thorough scriptural knowledge and argumentation was necessary to be taken seriously.

This legacy lives on in my shelf of Bibles, my e-Sword, my Bibleworks 7. But, as thankful as I am for the written words of Scripture, I acknowledge that they are as much an indictment as a blessing. I have neglected them for trivial affairs. I have read them, and lived no differently. I have twisted them so they would be more palatable to me or more in line with my preconceptions. As good as the Bible has been to me, I have quite poorly used it in return. So, today, I am thankful that in its pages I find a clear testimony to the living Word, the eternal Son of God who became incarnate to commune with me, died to redeem me, rose to justify me. This Word, through his Spirit, speaks into me with all authority from the right hand of the Father.

When the Law thunders against me, he hushes it. When my conscience convicts me, he overturns its verdict. When the works of my hands are tainted, unimpressive fabrications, he purifies them and presents them as masterpieces to his Father. Because he is the Gift, I can return thanks to the Father for every good and perfect gift showered on me from above. My thanksgiving today will not be adequate to the gifts I have received, but in this failing too the Word speaks his message of grace to me.

1 Chronicles 16:34 — Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!

Published in: on November 25, 2010 at 8:48 am  Leave a Comment  

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