“Place”

GOSPEL | JOHN 8:33-47

34 Jesus answered them, “Very truly, I tell you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin.  35 The slave does not have a permanent place in the household; the son has a place there for ever.  36 So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.  37 I know that you are descendants of Abraham; yet you look for an opportunity to kill me, because there is no place in you for my word.  38 I declare what I have seen in the Father’s presence; as for you, you should do what you have heard from the Father.”

“Hospitality of the heart” is a spiritual practice and attitude certain people around the seminary are infamous for. The infamy comes because this spiritual attitude presents itself as memorization, a discipline that many find daunting, if not impossible. Much of my Hebrew class works on memorizing portions of the Old Testament in Hebrew: the Shema (Deuteronomy 6:4-9), Aaron’s Blessing (Numbers 6:24-26), the Ten Commandments (Exodus 22:1-17).

The idea behind fostering “hospitality of the heart” is to rearrange our “internal furniture” and invite God’s Word into our lives as an honored guest. The act of playing host to Scripture changes us, reorients us, transforms us from the inside out.

I am not gifted at memorizing. Even in doing theater, I rarely gave a line verbatim; I almost always paraphrased. I also rarely got a character right. They always had a little too much of me in them. Taking on someone else’s words, taking in God’s Word, is an act of humility, that demands me to begin by praying along with John the Baptizer, “He must increase, but I must decrease.”

I also think that I have to stop making excuses that I’m not “gifted” at memorizing. God’s Word is a gift to me, and I am asked simply to welcome God’s Word in, and receive it as the gift it is. Rather than balking at the burden of memorizing, I can get excited about adopting the humble posture of host, and welcoming God’s Word in gladly.

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