Friday, October 7, 2016

Finding God's Word

At a large soup kitchen in an Episcopal Church in the Chelsea neighborhood of New York about 950 homeless people are fed every day of the week not counting the weekend. One of the women who helps serve the meals was asked about her motivation for serving in this way. She said that it was because Jesus said to feed the hungry. It was as simple as that. In Matthew 25, she said, Jesus said "as you have done this to the least of these you have done it unto me." Feeding the hungry is pretty basic in Scripture no matter what your method of interpretation is.

On April 16 in 1208 Francis and two other men wondered what God's will was for them. They went to the parish priest in their town of Assisi and asked for his help. He took his altar missal in hand since he did not have a copy of the whole Bible nearby. The three men prayed with the priest then he took the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ and opened it three times. Reading the passage he opened to in Latin he explained to the men what it said. The first time he opened the missal to the Gospel for Wednesday in the week of the fifth Sunday of Pentecost. It was Mark 10:17-21 which said, "Go, sell all you have and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me." The second time the priest opened the missal at Luke 9: 1-6, which said, "and take nothing for your journey, no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money: and do not  have two tunics." The third time the priest opened the missal he found this: "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me." Francis committed these texts to memory and they became the guide for his life. God had revealed to him what he was supposed to do.

At the time of Reformation the main leaders all agreed that they rejected the teachings, rituals, and practises of the Roman Catholic Church. They did not wholly agree with each other about what God's word said. In 1529, the main leaders met at Marburg to iron out their differences. They agreed on fourteen out of fifteen disputed points of theology. They could not agree on the meaning and practise of the Lord's Supper. That sticking point has divided the Church ever since. The divided Church has fought about many other things to this day.

There are many people who see the divisions and differences in the Church as an indication that the Church doesn't speak with a single voice. No one knows for sure what the Church teaches. It depends on which one you go to. And God's word gets lost in the chaos of conflicting voices.

It's not that complicated. Is it?

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