A podcast I listen to was recently talking about the spiritual journey of a person’s life. The priest being interviewed began to speak about his childhood, growing up in the Missionary Baptist Church and how he experienced hearing Scripture in church. He talked about his hearing of the Scriptures and taking them very literally, but also having a very rich theological imagination, sometimes imagining himself as a comic book biblical character or placing his current life situations in the light of the Scriptures he was hearing.
As this priest began to describe the experience, I found myself drifting back and thinking about my own childhood in the church - hearing lessons from the Old Testament, the Psalms, the New Testament and the Gospels. One of my favorite Scriptures has always been the story of Jonah. I have identified with this story since I was a child - hearing God call to me and running the other way, eventually giving in and trusting in God to lead me and sometimes getting mad that God would do something totally different from what I thought God would do, only to have God point out to me that it was not my labor but God’s own labor in the first place. Yeah, it’s complicated, I know.
Perhaps this is a good way for us to understand the stories of the Bible which seem so far away, understanding the Spirit of God to be continually moving in and out of our lives even today. Can we make the Scriptures more relevant in our daily lives, reading and “inwardly digesting” them and bringing new understanding of how God is present with us? Maybe the question is: “How can we imagine the Scriptures in our lives? Or maybe it’s the other way around, how can we imagine our lives in the Scriptures?
By having a rich theological imagination and listening to the stories, our inner lives can and will be deeply informed by them. And then we should share those experiences with each other.
I invite you to share your theological imagination with me and each other in the hope that we might come to know each other more closely and see the story of God and God’s people in a different light.
Fr. Will +