people of the book

“We are dealing with a nation of high culture, with ” a people of the book.”
Germany has become a madhouse–mad for books. Say what you will, I fear such
people! Where plunder is based on an ideology, on a world outlook which in essence is spiritual, it cannot be equalled in strength and durability…
The Nazi has robbed us not only of material possessions, but also of our good
name as “the people of the Book.” The Nazi has both book and sword, and this is his strength and might”

Excerpt from the the 1939 diary of Chaim Kaplan, a Jewish teacher in Warsaw


(an old friend’s family Hebrew bible / Julie Cook / 2014)

According to Wikipedia, the origin of the term “people of the book” is Islamic
in nature.

The Quran uses the term in reference to Jews, Christians and Sabians
(those from the land of Sheba) in a variety of contexts, from religious polemics
to passages emphasizing community of faith between those who possess
monotheistic scriptures.
The term was later extended to other religious communities that fell under
Muslim rule, including even polytheistic Indians.
Historically, these communities were subject to the dhimma contract in an
Islamic state.

In Judaism the term “People of the Book” (Hebrew: עם הספר, Am HaSefer)
has come to refer to the Jewish people and the Torah.

Members of some Christian denominations, such as the Baptists, Methodists, Seventh-day Adventist Church, as well as Puritans and Shakers, have embraced the term “People of the Book” in reference to themselves.

Growing up in an Episcopal Sunday School, the only year I can remember really
delving into Scripture, other than later in high school during youth group,
was when I was in the 5th grade and the teacher had us memorize Bible verses.

This sweet woman was bound and determined that we would commit various pieces of
scripture to memory if it was to be her last act on this earth.
And unlike learning weekly spelling words for school, learning the verses was both
positive and fun as she made it game-like by “rewarding” us with various little
Christian trinkets.

That was the carrot for the 9 and 10 year old mindset—learn and recite a verse and
“win” a cool glow in the dark little plastic cross.

This was great for warding off vampires in the middle of the night as this was the time that most kids my age raced home from school to watch Dark Shadows—a campy daytime TV drama in the mid 1960’s about what else, vampires, werewolves and witches…
seems television just can’t get enough of the dark side…..

As I type this, I’m shaking my head as there is just so much wrong with that one memory from childhood that it’s almost comical.

Yet I am so appreciative for that 5th grade Sunday School teacher as I believe that
that was the year in which a true spiritual foundation was actually poured and made solid.

Now I’ve always loved singing hymns, even in “children’s church, as those lines,
stanzas and tunes have stayed with me for most of my life but those Bible verses
from 5th grade, with also having memorized the Nicene Creed, the Lord’s prayer,
The 23 Psalm, and the Agnus Dei….they have each played a pivotal role in my
spiritual growth.

I almost find myself laughing out loud over the thought of what if that Sunday School classroom experience was today…can you imagine how some parents would think such
practice would be considered extreme, cruel or perhaps harmful to the psyche
of the child!? They’d proclaim that every child should have a glow in the dark cross
just for showing up and why should it just be a cross, why not a crows foot lest we discriminate against the wickens…
on and on the 21st century dysfunction goes.

Over the years I have read many a harrowing account of those who were imprisoned in
various death camps, as well as accounts of those who have been held as prisoners
of war, who claimed that it was the memory and the ability to recall those once
memorized and recited scriptures and or hymns that they had learned as children which
was the key that helped to keep them not only sane but actually sustained their
will to survive.

For we are indeed a people of the Book.

A Book that is the divinely inspired words of a very real living God.

Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish
one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit,
singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.

Colossians 3:16

to be heartbreakingly humble

Humility is not thinking less of yourself,
but thinking of yourself less.

C.S. Lewis

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(the dried faded viburnum blooms / Julie Cook / 2016)

“Amid the sparkle and the color and music of the day’s celebration
we do well to remember that God’s insertion of himself into human history
was achieved with an almost frightening quietness and humility.
There was no advertisement,
no publicity,
no special privilege;
in fact the entry of God into his own world was almost
heartbreakingly humble”

J. B. Phillips

Recently reading a blog post by a Scottish minister regarding the ever growing saga
in the UK over Brexit…the UK’s vote for departure from the EU and the UK’s
courts latest counter order to halt all proceedings…
as it is a continuing sickening rollercoaster ride of will it or won’t it stay….
I was struck by the deep similarities of all things political and Governmental in the UK
compared with our own fracas over this Election…
The haves and the have nots of power elites who toil to establish their will,
the movers and shakers who forget who they are actually shaking,
the liberal biased media outlets determined to bend the will of the people,
the votes that don’t seem to count unless they favor the favored one, so revote until it’s right…

More often than not, the average citizen,
make that the average Christian citizen,
who is currently feeling lost in this political melee and
who is actually fearful of what the future might hold in either country,
now needs to hold fast to the one true Sovereign who is indeed sovereign over all…
despite what others would wish for us all to believe….

“We don’t trust in politicians or in judges who think they are sovereign.
The real sovereignty is with the only real Sovereign.
When the result of this court case came out I felt a wee bit depressed –
not so much because of it, but rather because I thought – oh no, here we go again.
But I was speaking at Abertay University that night on Daniel 5
The Writing on the Wall and was greatly struck by the phrase
“he acknowledged that the Most High God is sovereign over all
kingdoms on earth and sets over them anyone he wishes” (v.21).
This trust in the sovereignty of God does not mean that we are political pietists
who don’t care about what happens.
It just means that we have such trust in the Sovereign Lord that we
recognize that we don’t rule and neither
does Trump/Clinton/Blair/Farage/Corbyn/May/Sturgeon or any of the elites.
And so we can respect those in authority and those not in authority.
We can have peace, even when we see things that disturb, anger and perplex us.

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:4-7 NIV)
David Robertson
Pastor of St Peters Free Church
Dundee, Scotland

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit,
but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.
Philippians 2:3