“NEW LIFE” BULLETIN – VOL. 23, NO. 29&30 – THE SOUND OF MUSIC
Way back in my, or my wife’s life, I don’t remember which, an English teacher said good grammar was like well played music or a song beautifully sung.
What that illustration is all about is how something sounds. Good grammar sounds good to the ear. You don’t have to be an English major to hear a sour note in a sentence. Neither do you have to be musically inclined to hear a sour note in a tune or a song.
Growing up we used to say and hear, “Ain’t ain’t in the dictionary.” It may be now, I haven’t looked. I use the word “ain’t” when I’m writing dialogue. But my ear hurts when I hear someone say it. On another level, it is only the love of the person being sung to that gets most crowds through the singing of “Happy Birthday” without ear strain. Those of us who enjoy the reruns of The Andy Griffith Show know well the program where Don Knotts (who had a good voice) sang off key and messed up Santa Lucia. We also know what it’s like to sit and listen to someone fracture the English language, and I don’t mean with an accent or regional dialect. I can pretty much handle “Gitter done!” But “I ain’t got no” gives me shivers.
The Psalms are written in a form of Hebrew poetry. They have a certain rhythm and style. Taking that into consideration we should not be surprised to read things in the Psalms that sound “sharp” or perhaps “flat”. A good example would be the apostle Paul saying a loveless life is a sour note. It has no harmony. It’s a one note band or a one note song. (I Cor. 13)
What does all of this have to do with scripture? Just this: If an understanding of scripture or an explanation of scripture “sounds” off key, hurts your ears (the opposite of that is not “tickling the ears”), then it is a good idea to look and listen again.
Our hearts and spiritual hearing is developed by what we have already heard, and that conditions the way we hear and understand. When Moses was up on the mountain with God, Joshua, waiting below, heard sounds coming from the base camp in the valley. What was going on was the singing and dancing around the golden calf. In Exodus 32:17, what Joshua told Moses was, “There is the sound of war in the camp!” What made him interpret the sounds of dancing and shouting as war? He was a warrior. He has warrior’s ears. So his first impulse is to think it was war.
Jesus spoke of those whose hearing was dull and whose hearts were hard. How did they get that way? By what they had been taught and perhaps experienced. They understood and interpreted life and God based on that. That’s true with all of us and it makes it hard to see or hear anything but what we have already seen and heard, even if the sound hurts our senses. Such a passage might be Psalm 137:8, 9 where Babylon is cursed. “Happy is he who repays you for what you have done to us—he who seizes your infants and dashes them against the rocks.” Not a pretty picture. But if we take it in its poetic context and not get too literal and assume, as some have, that this looks like God will bless those who kill Babylonian babies, we may imagine this is what the Jews saw done to their own children when the Babylonians invaded their land. Still not pretty, but more of a reflective curse than an actual instruction. However, we should be repulsed but not surprised to see such violence, even among the Jews. Remember Jericho?
We are all subject to our time and place in history. Social influences that influenced one generation will not influence those to come. Even the Bible is understood based on what is happening at the time. Think about the use of scripture to support slavery and the inferiority of blacks. Think about the scriptures used to denigrate women as inferior and not worth as much as men in the vote and in the workplace.
How are we to do our best to make our relationship with God and others sound more like well-played music or words well spoken? I think first and foremost we need to realize that not just incorrect grammar hurts the ear, but so do incorrect words that express incorrect thinking. Jesus spoke a deep psychological truth in saying it is not what goes into the person that condemns, but what come out (of the mouth). What we say betrays who we are. If we insist on using sexist, racist, bigoted, prejudicial language, we betray who we are at our core.
This is true as well when it comes to the application of scripture. A young male or female will find themselves filled with new, exciting and natural attraction toward the opposite sex. If they hear the typical sermon on the words of Jesus about looking at someone with lust in the heart, for them it will be like the day the music died. Someone will need to retune them.
If the scriptures on marriage and divorce are applied without due consideration, there is no harmony. For example, if a woman’s husband beats her, but does not commit sexual adultery, she is told she can divorce but not remarry. So the sweet melody of “It is not good for man (or woman) to be alone” goes sour.
Perhaps the most significant words in both the Old and the New Testament are the words of Jeremiah repeated in Hebrews 8:10, 11. “This is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after that time, declares the Lord. I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God and they shall be my people. No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me.”
Those are lyrics and music too large for me to completely grasp, but to even try requires that I trust the ear of my heart to hear the symphony of God’s love and grace in life and in applying scripture, as well as God’s trust that I can hear the song and sing it to others. Maybe that’s what the Psalmist meant when he wrote, “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.”
CONCERNS: T. J. Hall developed meningitis while he and Judy were in Kentucky. He is doing better now. Also, while there Judy fell and broke a bone in her back, so she will be wearing a brace for awhile. A physical therapist in Del. Bolin’s office has an eye infection that may cause her to lose her eyesight. She has just returned from her honeymoon. Her name is Jenn McCready. Erma Williams’ dad is still in rehab. Brad Hager’s father is having some health issues. He is 102. Former members, Margaret and Tom Kincannon have asked for our prayers while they are in Russia teaching the Bible. Jenni Cullum is having what seems to be problems with arthritis in her lower body. Wilma Cullum, Eleanor Crush, Alma martin, Ron Matney, Joni Beach’s mother, Helen Nicklas, Randy Conner, and Tim Elder.
OUR DAILY BREAD: OCT. 17-22
Monday: Job 1:1-12
Tuesday: Jeremiah 1:4-19
Wednesday: Matthew 11:1-19
Thursday: Romans 2:1-29
Friday: Revelation 18:1-20
Saturday: Psalm 93:1-5
OUR DAILY BREAD: OCT. 24-28
Monday: Exodus 1:15-2:10
Tuesday: Mark 1:16-34
Wednesday: Genesis 17:1-21
Thursday: Job 42:1-17
Friday: Luke 4:1-13
Saturday: Psalm 63:1-11
Today, October 16, is Super Sunday. The leaves are changing and the is a little nip in the morning air, so what better way to spend time after the morning service than to enjoy a good meal together.
PEAKS OF OTTER HIKE AND PICNIC
Today is also our annual Peaks of Otter hike and picnic. It looks to be a beautiful day, so if you are riding the bus be sure to get there in time to get a ticket. They sell out fast. They can be purchased at the gift shop on the Parkway across from the Peaks. The picnic will start about 5:00 PM and we should be done before it gets really dark.
NO BULLETIN UNTIL NOV. 6
Jo and Keith Wagner will be on vacation until Nov 1. This will be the last bulletin until they return. The next bulletin would have had the service roster for November in it. The service roster will be sent to all members who have e-mail. A hard copy will be placed on the foyer table when the Wagner’s return.
Those who will be preaching for Keith will be announced. Also, an order of worship will be available for Oct 23, but perhaps not for Oct. 30.
Don’t forget when you shop to pick up some of the things we are sending to some troops fighting in Afghanistan. Needed are individual packets water flavors such as Crystal Lite, etc., slim Jims, wet wipes, cracker snacks, small toys for the children and of course, home made cookies. You may place the items on the downstairs table.
For those of you not going to the picnic, well known writer and speaker, Philip Yancy will be speaking this evening at St John’s Episcopal Church this evening. Call the church for the time.
Judy McWhorter has returned from the Ezell Clinic in Guatemala. She also participated in a mobile clinic and learned a lot about the locals. As soon as she feels ready we will have her give us all the details about her experience. She also worked with Harriette Shivers.