Wednesday, March 6, 2013

readings for week 4

Formed to live by the word of God

Isn’t it enough for our community to be formed by the word of God, rather than bringing in these old confessional documents which, to be honest, many of us are at best only vaguely familiar with?  We call them (the Heidelberg Catechism, Belgic Confession, and Canons of Dort) “three forms of unity,” but don’t they often come between us rather than binding us together?  Why bother with these difficult confessions, when we have the Bible to bring us together?

Fair enough.  Given the choice between the Bible and the confessions as a lamp for my feet and a light for my path, I would choose the Bible every time, and I would urge you to do the same.  But what if the confessions could actually lead us by the hand to the Bible, could place it in our hands and teach us how to open it, how to hold it, how to read it?  We may not love them for their own sakes, but they put this marvelous treasure within our reach.

The Heidelberg Catechism is a particularly good teacher, a trustworthy guide, in our effort to be formed to live by the word of God.  The last few pages of this catechism are a leisurely, reflective meditation on one brief passage of Scripture, the Lord’s Prayer.  You can find the text here, on the website of the Christian Reformed Church in North America, one of the several church bodies that seek to live by this confession: (You'll need to scroll down to the "Lord's Prayer" link at the bottom of the list.)

As you linger with this selection – maybe even reading it out loud with someone else! – you might ask yourself:

- How does this help me to understand the Lord's Prayer more deeply?  
- If I were to pray the Lord's Prayer every day with the Catechism's explanation of it in mind, how would my life be formed by it?
- If we prayed this prayer together with the Catechism's explanation of it in mind, how would our community be reshaped by it?  How might we be formed in ways that are more responsive to God, more hospitable, more connected?

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