the ability to read and write. synonyms: ability to read and write, reading/writing proficiency; learning, book learning,
education, scholarship, schooling
"literacy and numeracy are the first goals of education"
competence or knowledge in a specified area.
We now know how the dictionary defines literacy, but what does it mean? It is something that is very important to St. Stephen’s. After all, my letter of call does specifically describe one of my duties as pastor is to help build the biblical literacy of the church.
(I wonder how many of you know that is part of what the Call Committee and the Council have identified as “important” to the church.)
I believe it is important...to be both literate and biblically literate.
However, I am not sure that I am satisfied with the definition, because literacy is more than just being able to read and write. It is far more than book learning, or scholarship, or proficiency or common sense.
Literacy is far more than being just able to read...it is also being able to process that information in such a way that allows you to use it to grow and live more fully.
That is why simply memorizing passages and throwing scripture quotes around is not at all biblical literacy. The ever squeaky wheel of fundamentalism that plagues our air waves and news media is not just harmful because of its distortion of Christ and scripture...it is harmful because it does so with the incorrect thought that memorizing passages of scripture is enough to prove your literacy and love for God.
It simply is not so.
Biblical literacy is deeper, it is more holistic than just that.
We need to be able to tell the story, tell it in our own words and understand that every story has more than just the black and white words on the page.
It has context - what was going on at the time of the writing and telling of this story? What did the people need to hear and why did they need to hear it in such a way?
It has meaning - what is the meaning of God...in fact, where is God in this story? What does God want us to learn? What is the main message/idea of the story?
It has tradition - how has this passage or story been used in our tradition? How does this passage or story relate to our larger spirituality and faith?
You see, literacy is more than just memorizing and regurgitating information. It is deeper and more meaningful. In the quest to know and learn more you will encounter the Holy Spirit, God and who knows...you may have a faith experience that will forever change your way of living into the person God has called and made you to be.
So, let’s become more literate...biblically speaking that is.
Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany...or as we are calling it “Christmas in Trolley.”
The three liturgical seasons upon us - the three seasons that we will, together (because literacy in community is far stronger than anything), work towards a stronger understanding of our faith and our traditions.
Advent will feature “Our Story.”
Midweek services, starting on November 29th at 7 pm will not just feature a time of community gathering over wine and cheese, but it will also focus on the creation of a Jesse Tree.
We will hear passages from what is called our salvation history - bible stories that will sound familiar and some that may sound new
Together we will talk about how these stories relate to our understanding of Christmas...because they do relate to the larger story of Christ!
Our individual faith and understanding of scripture will begin to develop our community story.
Sundays will have our Advent wreath as always...and our beloved hymn O Come O Come Emmanuel. But did you know that the hymn is not just from scripture? It is from biblical prophecy that was told hundreds of years before Christ...preparing us for his coming.
Could it be speaking to us in preparation of “Christ will come again?”
Our preparations in Advent, our anticipation, our new literacy will prepare us for a wonderful Christmas celebration!
Christmas Eve happens to fall on a Sunday (yes, I know you are all worried that your pastor is going to have to have...gasp...two services!! But he will survive).
That means we will have our fourth and final Advent service in the morning...which gives us an awesome once in every 6 or 7 year opportunity to have a special unique service!
The 10 am service will be a typical (though a bit shorter) service of Holy Communion...followed by a transition from Advent to Christmas. Together we will strip the sanctuary of the Advent blue and bring it to white...while also bringing the red poinsettias out. It will give us a chance to change the season together...a tradition that can begin this year!
The full Christmas Eve service will be at 7 pm. (I hope you will bring family and friends)
Finally Epiphany - The Three Kings and Our Story
Epiphany Lesson and Carols? Yes, it can and will be done
Who knows, we may have the visitation of three wise women...and perhaps the Sunday School will lead us into this season...so stay tuned because this is a not to miss moment.
Epiphany also tells us a very important story about who we are!
So using these three seasons we will begin the new church year with very intentional looks at scripture. Listen for it in our prayers and spoken activities in church. Look for it in bulletins and in blogs and in other printed material. Ask questions and have conversations, because this is going to be a great opportunity to grow in our faith together.
Looking towards Advent, Hosea tells us in the 6th chapter “therefore, return to your God, Observe kindness and justice, And wait for your God continually.” Each year we return to the anticipatory mood of Advent - waiting in joy and hope for God’s coming. Let us never forget, that as we wait in anticipation we do so through the observation of kindness and justice...and together we will create a better world prepared to welcome the coming of Christ.
Yours in Christ,