Forest Church Fresh Expressions Thought of the Day

A Dynamic Unity (II)

Some more thoughts by Alison, blogged by Simon for Quartz. Read part (I) here.

In the first of these reflections Alison described encountering God

“Sitting on a bench looking out at the Solway restores my soul, and through it I sense a spiritual truth and reality. In this place it comes naturally to me as a consolation as a gift and without effort”.

Read part (I) here.

The words of Psalm 19 such as these below express this experience. These moments can be a source of connection and the start of many interesting discussions with people from a wide variety of traditions.

There is no speech, nor are there words;
    their voice is not heard;
yet their voice[b] goes out through all the earth
    and their words to the end of the world.

The law of the Lord is perfect,
    reviving the soul

Find the whole Psalm here

However, whilst the first section in the psalm is very agreeable the following section is less clear. It is difficult to find such experiences of consolation in reading descriptions about regulations of cloth of mixed fibres or eating shellfish! In what ways does reading the law books in the bible help us experience the reviving of our souls, or taste as sweet as honey?

The law of the Lord is perfect,
    reviving the soul;
the decrees of the Lord are sure,
    making wise the simple;
the precepts of the Lord are right,
    rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the Lord is clear,
    enlightening the eyes;
the fear of the Lord is pure,
    enduring forever;
the ordinances of the Lord are true
    and righteous altogether.
10 More to be desired are they than gold,
    even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey
    and drippings of the honeycomb.

Find the Whole Psalm here

How can this dissonance between the opening of the psalm and this section be resolved?

Perhaps rather than thinking of “The Law” being laid upon people to limit them, or as a punitive code, we can approach it as a way of expressing our response to meeting God in daily life. In the experience of living out commandments such as:

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart…” and “Love your neighbour as yourself”

Not a direct quote, read more here…

the Law does give joy to the heart. The experience of loving your neighbour can be light for your eyes, in a similar way to the way in which sitting on a bench and #SensingAwareness can. We often talk about feeling at one with nature, oneself, but less often simply experiencing the changed quality in awareness when we feel at one with other people. Once rethink “The Law” and understand it as a means through which people can and do work together to build each other up, then experiences of our awareness of it can be experiences of human being, flourishing.

There will be a third part to this! These are also the themes we are working together towards developing for the contemporary service in St Johns on the 13th of November 2022

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