One of my favorite questions that I ask people when they are either going through the process of ordination, or are thinking about it and talk to me about it, is to ask, “Other than the Holy Trinity and the Apostles, who in the Bible do you relate to the most, and why?” What surprises me are the number of people who seem to get stuck on this question and have to sit back and really think about it. Yes I will admit that when that question first came to my mind, it took me a few seconds to think about it, but I did come up with an answer. One thing that did feel good was sitting in the Commission On Ministry meeting with someone who was there for their final interview before ordination, and while talking about the process mentioned that that question was something that they have continued to think about. It made me realize that this person was always going to continue to discern the things that they do in life and in their ministry.
One of the things that does happen is that those who are going through the process talk with each other and their experiences with the Commission, so the questions that get asked are mentioned. Now this is both helpful and a problem, as it means that people will actually have to spend time thinking about the questions and how to answer them, but it also has a disadvantage as people will come to generic answers to these questions. The problem with the generic answers, as you have probably figured out, is that it then makes it hard to really tell if the person’s calling is true or not.
Lately a new question has come to mind, and has made me wonder what answers others would give. I know why my answer has come to mind, and I think that it would surprise some people, but with others they As I thought about this question, I figured that I would have to put some qualifiers on it when asking someone the question, including myself. The reason for putting qualifiers onto these questions is because it makes it harder to give an answer without one having to of really really other things in the Bible. In the Episcopal Church we tend to concentrate and make of importance just four of the books within the Bible, but in reality we should give importance to the entire thing. A number of people who give homilies and sermons will concentrate on one of the lessons given, but won’t talk about the commonalities that are in all of the lessons that are given. But the disadvantage that we also have within the church is that in many congregations finding Bibles within the pews of the church, and I am sure that in most of the congregations where one will find a Bible in the pews, they are hardly ever touched, yet alone used.
When I was a kid, I went to an overnight camp that the local YMCA had. The second year that I went there, I decided that I was going to bring my Bible with me and try and read it all of the way through before I returned home. Well I did make it through a few of the books that were within it, but I didn’t make it all of the way through. In a way I am kind of glad that I didn’t, as I think that the words inside of me wouldn’t mean as much to me today as they do today. Oh sure the bragging rights would have been fun, but I don’t think that the words located in it would have meant much to me. Without realizing it, I was also pretty much a conservative person in my thinking and ways then, and I am sure that with some of the things that are written in the Bible I would have been a bigger pain in the rump than I already was. I have yet to this day read through the entire thing, and I may never read through it all, but still I can answer the question that came to mind. Now the answer could change in a year or two, or maybe even tomorrow, but it’s a question that I think everyone should ask themselves.
“Other than the Gospels and the Book of Acts, what is your favorite book in the Bible and why?” Well, let me re-ask that question another way. “If you were stranded on a desert island, and the only thing that you had to read was one book from the Bible, other than the Gospels and the Book of Acts, which one would you hope it would be, and why?” I would love to know your answer. Please post it into the comments on this blog page.