For as long as I can remember, I’ve been fascinated by the idea of the Bible as an actor. I don’t just want to know what the Bible is, I want to know what it does. How does the Bible work? What is God trying to do through it? How should it make me feel? I’ve never been satisfied with the idea that the Bible is only here to teach us something, to fill our heads with good information about God and that’s it. Too many times I’ve run across passages where the Bible’s authors are speaking rapturously about how good the Word tastes, how beautiful it is, and how it impassions them and gives them great joy. These are not “information” words. They are words of art and action, and we’re being invited to feast upon them. So, let’s begin…


Holy God — our Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer — guide us this morning by your Word and your Holy Spirit, so that in your light we might see light, and in your truth, we might find freedom, and in your will, we might truly discover peace through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


Jeremiah 15:15-16

O Lord, you know; remember me and visit me,
and bring down retribution for me on my persecutors.
In your forbearance do not take me away;
know that on your account I suffer insult.
Your words were found, and I ate them,
and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart;
for I am called by your name, O Lord, God of hosts.


“Wonderful Words of Life” — Philip P. Bliss (YouTube video for in-home worship: https://youtu.be/Pi8EGVzV758)

Sing them over again to me,
wonderful words of life;
Let me more of their beauty see,
wonderful words of life.
Words of life and beauty,
teach me faith and duty.

Beautiful words, wonderful words,
    wonderful words of life.
Beautiful words, wonderful words,
    wonderful words of life.

Christ the blessed One,
gives to all wonderful words of life;
Sinner, list to the loving call,
wonderful words of life.
Oh, so freely given,
wooing us to heaven. Refrain

Sweetly echo the Gospel call,
wonderful words of life;
Offer pardon and peace to all,
wonderful words of life.
Jesus, only Savior,
sanctify us forever. Refrain


When I was a junior in college, I studied abroad at the University of Edinburgh. My apartment was in a building older than America. Its windows looked out over the Royal Mile. I didn’t have to set an alarm clock because every morning at 7:00am the bagpipers would start warming up hardly twenty feet below me. If I stepped out my front door and took a right, I could see the giant, cold stone walls of Edinburgh Castle. One night, after a day of snow, some of us went up there and built a snowman, right on the castle lawn. It was surreal.

The Divinity School at the University of Edinburgh is called New College, and its library used to be the sanctuary of the old Free High Church. Tall, stained glass windows which once cast prisms of sacred color across long, full pews now highlight the spines of thousands of books. I loved walking those stacks, reflecting on all the titles about God and Christ and Church, bathed as they were in red and green and gold. There was a beauty there that felt old — older than anything I had ever known. On a particularly sunny day, you could almost touch it. It made me want to do something, to add to all that color and beauty.

Over the years, I had grown up thinking of the Bible as simply a storehouse of facts, a book full of information whose pages could and should be mined if I ever wanted to know more about God and salvation. That semester abroad, however, began to change all that. I can’t say it had anything to do with my classes. It was the sheer presence of the place. If you’ve ever walked into an ancient cathedral with its vaulted ceilings and massive frescos, you know what I mean. There’s a depth there that goes beyond the sheer facts of the building. You can’t just read about it. You have to experience it, to step through its doors, to hear your footsteps echo and then drift away.

Living in Edinburgh, walking through the library’s stacks, hearing an organ concert at Notre-Dame Cathedral — it all changed how I began to read the Bible, what I expected of it, how I would approach it and enjoy it. The Bible is full of ancient stories, great tales of love and woe and celebration and anger. It contains history, poetry, and wisdom that’s civilizations old, and it promises redemption, rest, and peace in a world finally freed of its scars thanks to a God who would do anything for us. Like a good novel you read every Christmas, the Bible is a book that wants to be tasted and treasured, not simply mined and managed. “Your words were found, and I ate them,” says Jeremiah, “and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart.” 

It’s a strange context for such a joyous memory. Jeremiah is in full-on lament. He’s being insulted and persecuted. He’s all alone. A couple verses later, we find him in literal agony, confused as to why nothing is getting better: “Why is my pain unceasing, my wound incurable, refusing to be healed?” He even starts to blame God: “Truly, you are to me like a deceitful brook, like waters that fail.” But, he does not forget what is like to feast on the Word, to be called by the name of God. John Wright explains, “The divine Word calls the one devastated by life into life…Amid wounds that do not heal, God still calls to life.”

In the famous story of Moses and the burning bush (see Exodus 3:1-15), we discover that God’s name — the name that we’re called by, the name that is meant to go before all of us, leading us — it’s the name “I AM.” In ancient Hebrew, it signifies action. God is. God does.

When we talk about the Bible, we often talk about its inspiration — how the Holy Spirit has inspired the book and so has made it sacred scripture. But, standing there among all those color-splashed books in Edinburgh, I began to wonder if the term might not be equally applied to us. The Bible is a book that inspires us. It inspires us to action and not just thought, to passion and not just information. After all, isn’t that what every really good book does? It reminds us of what real beauty and true goodness look like, and in doing so, it inspires us to go looking for them and even to make them ourselves.

So, today, go feast on God’s Word. Enjoy it, and let it inspire you to good and beautiful things.

Closing Prayer

Holy God, we thank you for the joy and beauty of your Word. Use it to fill us up this week so that we can live beautiful lives that proclaim your truth with boldness and perform your justice with compassion. We ask this in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

– John W. Wright, Connections: Year A, Vol. 3 (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox, 2020), 264.