Taking Flight – Sunday 16 October 2022 Pentecost 19 61C
This week in Taking Flight
“Everything in the Scriptures is God's Word”… So it says in our lectionary reading from 2 Timothy today. The term actually used is “God-breathed”. It is the breath of God that gives life. The breath of God brings an “Aha!” The proof of the power of the Word of God is not in Scripture’s statement about itself. It is in the “Aha!”
Jeremiah 31.27-34 In this important passage in Jeremiah the prophet points ahead to the new agreement between God and his people. “I will write my laws on their hearts and minds. I will be their God, and they will be my people.” In a drastic revision of the repeated idea in the law (Exodus, Numbers and Deuteronomy) that the punishment for the sin of the fathers will come on the children for the following three or four generations, Jeremiah declares that everyone will be responsible for their own actions. This is also where we get the “sour grapes” saying, which must have been widely in use (cf Ezekiel 18.2).
Psalm 119.97-104 The psalmist declares his love for God’s law. He persists in meditating on it all day long. It makes him wise and gives him understanding.
2 Timothy 3.14-4.5 The young preacher Timothy is encouraged to be faithful in preaching God’s message. As the Scriptures are God-breathed they are useful for equipping us to do God’s work.
Luke 18.1-8 Jesus tells the story of a widow who has to pester and annoy a crooked judge to get justice. I followed this reading from the Luke’s gospel in the last round of the lectionary cycle. This resource can be found in the Taking Flight archives 20 October 2019 - 61C.
On this day
Week of Prayer for World Peace - 16-23 October 2022
The Week of Prayer for World Peace is observed around the world as an opportunity for people of all faiths to pray in their own gatherings or with people of other faiths for world peace. A leaflet has been produced with prayers, readings and affirmations from many faiths to use each day. The theme of the leaflet is developed for worldwide distribution by the Week of Prayer for World Peace multi-faith committee based in Great Britain. Religious communities throughout New Zealand are encouraged to celebrate the week both in their observances and together with people of different faiths. For more information visit the Week of Prayer website which includes the following prayer for peace:
Lead me from death to life,
from falsehood to truth.
Lead me from despair to hope,
from fear to trust.
Lead me from hate to love,
from war to peace.
Let peace fill our heart, our world, our universe.
World Food Day – 16 October 2022
2022 finds us with an ongoing pandemic, conflict, a climate that won’t stop warming, rising prices and international tensions. This is affecting global food security. We need to build a sustainable world where everyone, everywhere has regular access to enough nutritious food.
Governments, the private sector, academia, and civil society and individuals need to work together in solidarity to prioritize the right of all people to food, nutrition, peace and equality. Indeed, every one of us, including youth, can work towards an inclusive and sustainable future, showing greater empathy and kindness in our actions. Download multimedia content.
Getting the “Aha!”
Growing up in New Zealand means you are never far from the sea. As a child our summer family weekend outings involved frequent trips to Ocean Beach in Hawkes Bay. I’m not sure why that was my dad’s beach of choice. It wasn’t the closest. But I loved the power of the waves crashing onto the exposed East Coast. Later, I started buying and reading surfing magazines. Then, at the age of 15, I bought my first surfboard. It was brand new and, at 8½ feet long, it was a giant compared to my later boards. But it was ideal for learning. After paddling around for a bit, I finally caught my first wave and stood up. What a rush it was dropping down the face of that first the wave! I was hooked! Reading about surfing was one thing – but this was something else altogether!
In our reading from the Letter to Timothy today, Paul has much to say about the Holy Scriptures. Timothy has known all about the Scriptures from the time he was a child and they have been the source of wisdom for him. But knowing the Scriptures was not sufficient. It was knowing the Scriptures plus his faith in Christ Jesus that changed everything. This brought the reality of God into his experience. It was like the difference between reading the surfing mags and dropping down my first wave.
“Everything in the Scriptures is God's Word” says Paul (2 Timothy 3.16). The term he actually uses is “God-breathed” (as followed by the NIV translation). It is the breath of God that gives life. In the creation narrative it was the breath of God that gave life to the first humans (Genesis 2.7). In John’s account, the power and life of Holy Spirit came to the church of when Jesus breathed on the disciples (John 20.22). It is faith in Christ that gives life to the printed words of Scriptures. They are God-breathed. The words become animated and are absorbed into our living experience of the Lord God. The breath of God brings an “Aha!” The proof of the power of the Word of God is not in Scripture’s statement about itself. It is in the “Aha!”
It is Scripture, plus our faith in Christ Jesus, that issues in salvation (2 Timothy 3.15). We are saved from wasting our lives in selfish pursuits. The way we say that in theological terms is that we are saved from sin to good works. The shift in our culture has meant that we have gradually drifted away from the idea that there are selfish desires in our lives that God can heal and fix. We don’t like to think of sin as something relating to ourselves. Instead, we seek a God who only affirms, encourages and agrees with all our preconceptions. May we be delivered from being those who Paul says, “look for teachers who will please them by telling them only what they are itching to hear” (2 Timothy 4.3). Part of the “Aha!” of the Scriptures is that they reveal to us the truth about ourselves. They correct us and show us how to live (2 Timothy 3.16). They point us to forgiveness, healing and restoration.
One of the results of the secularisation of our culture is that we are less biblically literate than once was the case. Even in the church, we are not as familiar with the Scriptures as Christians were in previous generations. But, more than ever today, we need to have the “Aha!” of God’s breath, bringing life and guidance. The discipline of daily reading the Scriptures can bring the life of Christ into our experience and transform our mundane lives into God-inspired ones.
Proclaim the message
Dropping down that first wave at Ocean Beach was such a rush. More than ever, I wanted to share the experience with others. I was still at school, but before long I had a couple of surfing buddies and we’d be hitting the beach whenever we could after school and on the weekends. Our talk would be of the weather, the swells that were running, and which beach would have the best breaks.
This is what happens when we experience something that inspires us. We talk about it. We want to share it with others. And this is exactly how it is when we sense the “Aha!” of God’s word to us. We want to share it with others.
“Preach God’s message”, says Paul, “even if it isn’t the popular thing to do” (2 Timothy 4.2). Other translations read: “In season or out of season”; “whether the time is right or not”; “when it is convenient and when it is not” and “on all occasions, convenient or inconvenient”. We can sense the urgency implied here. We are to take every opportunity to share about the life we have in Christ. The call is for us to persist in our witness. There are times when it is not popular to stand up for what is right and true, and at those times we need the courage that originates with the breath of God that comes to us. And we need that courage to persist in the face of opposition when the path is not an easy one.
Talking about how Christ brings help and healing, strength and forgiveness was never meant to be a burdensome obligation. It is an overflow of our experience of Christ’s life. God’s message is intended to spread out to all people of all cultures, and this task of spreading it, has been given exclusively to us, the church.
Today’s text says, “Everything in the Scriptures is God's Word” (2 Timothy 3.16). While this is frequently quoted to support the inspiration of the Bible, it needs to be pointed out that it wasn’t until much later that we had the Bible as we have it today. It took until the 5th century CE for there to be agreement about what books would be included in the New Testament canon. There was much debate about what to include and exclude, and the edges are rather fuzzy. The Shepherd of Hermas and the Didache nearly got in. Revelation was a source of much debate and, as late as the 16th century Reformation, Luther was quite keen to exclude the Letter of James.
So, when the writer of 2 Timothy mentions “the Scriptures”, this is a reference not to the Bible, but to the text of Septuagint, the Greek translation of the First Testament. This was the Scriptures for the early Gentile church. The translation into Greek of the Hebrew text by 70 scholars was believed to be inspired. The Septuagint gave the First Testament text access to a wider readership than the Hebrew Masoretic text. It is also of note the Septuagint includes the books that Protestants call the Apocrypha, that are part of the Roman Catholic Bible and pop up from time to time in our lectionary readings.
However, having said all that, as early as Peter’s second letter (2 Peter 3.16) Paul’s writings were also being called “Scriptures”. So, one could argue that it is appropriate to extend the application of the term to “the Scriptures” to the whole Bible including our New Testament.
Living Lord, when we have faith in you,
you satisfy our deepest longings
you sustain us, strengthen us
and fill us with yourself.
We get swept up in this Good News
and desire that others would
also experience the breath of God
and share the joy that belongs to all who trust in you.
Yet so often we find ourselves tongue-tied
shackled by our love of things
or responding only half-heartedly
to your whole-hearted love.
Forgive us Lord.
Help us to come again to your Word believing
and to receive your breath of life.
In the news
The funeral yesterday of Queen Elizabeth II was both dignified and deeply moving. It was a great state occasion, marked by all the pomp and circumstance due to a great queen, but it was also thoroughly Christian and soaked in Scripture.
Bible Society – 20 September 2022
In music, film and literature
A couple of movies that match today’s theme
- John Wycliffe: The morning star of the Reformation (G -1984). This movie tells the story of John Wycliffe, the fourteenth century scholar, who was the first person to translate the Bible into the English language. After his death, Wycliffe was declared a heretic by the Council of Constance which ordered his works to be burned and his remains exhumed and burned.
- God’s outlaw: The story of William Tyndale (PG13 - 1986). The story of William Tyndale (played by Roger Rees) is told in this movie. Tyndale was the English Reformer and Bible translator who was executed for heresy in 1536.
Word of God Speak – MercyMe
Prolific American Contemporary Christian Music band, MercyMe, released this song on their album Spoken for (2002) and as a single in 2003.
I'm finding myself at a loss for words
And the funny thing is it's okay
The last thing I need is to be heard
But to hear what you would say
Dramatised Scripture reading (for 5 readers)
Narrator This is the Apostle Paul’s advice to his young protégé Timothy.
Paul Keep on being faithful to what you were taught and to what you believed. After all, you know who taught you these things. Since childhood, you have known the Holy Scriptures that are able to make you wise enough to have faith in Christ Jesus and be saved. Everything in the Scriptures is God's Word. All of it is useful for teaching
Echo 1 and helping people
Echo 2 and for correcting them
Echo 3 and showing them how to live.
Paul The Scriptures train God's servants
Echo 1 to do all kinds of good deeds.
Paul When Christ Jesus comes as king
Echo 2 he will be the judge of everyone
Echo 3 whether they are living or dead.
Paul So with God and Christ as witnesses, I command you to preach God's message.
Echo 1 Do it willingly, even if it isn't the popular thing to do.
Paul You must correct people and point out their sins.
Echo 2 But also cheer them up
Echo 3 and when you instruct them, always be patient.
Paul The time is coming when people won't listen to good teaching.
Echo 1 Instead, they will look for teachers who will please them
Echo 2 by telling them only what they are itching to hear.
Echo 3 They will turn from the truth and eagerly listen to senseless stories.
Paul But you must stay calm and be willing to suffer. You must work hard to tell the good news and to do your job well.
Narrator Listen to what the Holy Scriptures say.
2 Timothy 3.14-4.5 Contemporary English Version (CEV Copyright © 1995 by American Bible Society. Used by permission).
- How is the Bible divinely inspired? (3min 30sec). Three minute theology: A God-breathed book.
- The history of the Bible (3min 45sec) from National Geographic. This is an animated history of the biblical text from parchment scrolls to the printing press and the book we know today.
- Overview of 2 Timothy (7min 43sec) from The Bible Project. This is an overview video on 2 Timothy, which breaks down the literary design of the book and its flow of thought.
- Paul didn’t know the New Testament from Agnus Day.
- National version from Reverendfun.
- Not the Good Book from Reverendfun.
- Inspired? from Reverendfun.
- Inspired II from Reverendfun.
For youth or group discussion
What do you think? - The Bible is...
- the word of God to be taken literally word for word
- the word of God to be interpreted in the light of its historical and cultural context
- the word of God to be interpreted in the light of its historical context and the Church’s teaching
- not the word of God but contains God’s word to us
- not the word of God but is a valuable book
- an ancient book with little value today
- Don’t know
(These questions come from the NZ National Church Life Survey 2001)
Read 2 Timothy 3.14-4.5
What do you think Paul means when he says, “Everything in the Scriptures is God's Word”? (2 Timothy 3.16). Compare this verse in other versions of the Bible.
What does Paul say about the purpose of Scripture? (1 Timothy 3.15-17)
What’s wrong with telling people what they want to hear? (2 Timothy 4.3) Is that what our church does?
With the kids
(You’ll need to bring along a Bible and a kazoo.)
The focus of our church service today is on the Scriptures. Our Scriptures are found in this book: The Bible. It comes in all shapes and sizes. And you can get versions that have very olde words that are hard to understand, as well as ones that are much easier for us to read.
Our reading from the Bible today tells us that “Everything in the Scriptures is God's Word” (2 Timothy 3.15). Another way of saying the same thing is that that they are “breathed on” by God. That means that God himself inspired the writers when they were writing the words. But it also means that God can inspire us when we read them.
To give you an idea of what it means for God to breath on the words of the Bible I’ve brough along a kazoo. Do any of you have a kazoo? When you look at it there’s nothing very impressive about it. It’s really just a little lump of plastic. It’s not magnificent and shiny like a saxophone. And the Bible can be a bit like that too. It’s just a big book with page after page of words… and you might think, “That’s not very impressive.”
But let’s see what happens to the kazoo when I put my breath into it. (Play a little tune on the kazoo). It comes to life! It can wish you a happy birthday… or play a little love song! And the Bible is like that too. If I read “God is love” it is just words on the page of the Bible. But when God breathes on those words they come alive. And I can realise that God loves me! That’s wonderful! There are lots and lots of things in the Bible that come alive when we realise that God is speaking to us.
We thank you for the Bible.
Thank you that you breathe on it and bring it to life.
Help us, when we read it, to understand what you are saying to us.
Thank you for the message of your love for us.
World Food Day
Encourage your children to enter the World Food Day Poster Contest (for ages 5-19).
Kereru Publishing – Resourcing Christian Spirituality
The story of the Kereru is a metaphor for the church in New Zealand and in the western world. Our dream is to provide resources to engage, encourage and inspire a generation of seed dispersers for the Christian faith.
Andrew Gamman and Caroline Bindon are founders of Kereru Publishing. They live among the kereru on the Whangaparaoa Peninsula just to the north of Auckland city in New Zealand.
Taking Flight is a lectionary resource produced by Kereru Publishing. Unless otherwise acknowledged all material is prepared by Andrew Gamman. Scripture quotations are from the Contemporary English Version (CEV Copyright © 1995 by American Bible Society. Used by permission). While every effort has been made to acknowledge source material, if you believe unacknowledged work has been quoted, contact the email address below to request that it be acknowledged or removed. Material included here may be freely used and reproduced for the immediate purpose of worship. Permission must be sought to republish in any form, or to reproduce for commercial gain. You do not have permission to forward this email to others. Instead, we respectfully request you recommend they purchase their own subscription. For more information on Taking Flight and other resources, please send an email.
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