For today's Friday Five, Songbird posts the following:
"Twenty years ago, I was on a Pastoral Search Committee, and one of the questions we asked the ten candidates we interviewed in the first round was to tell us their three favorite passages of scripture. I loved hearing the variety of verses quoted and even learned some that I didn't know, such as the last line of one of this week's lectionary passages:
He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8)
For today's Friday Five, list your five favorite passages/verses from the Bible and tell us something about why you love them."
1. I'll start with Micah 6:8. It's probably the verse most frequently inscribed by adult mentors in the Bibles given to the young people confirmed in my home church each spring; it's the call that permeates our congregation. Last week a former seminary classmate posted a new class assignment on FB: You have 15 minutes to preach your final sermon, the one that will sum up your ministry. This is the verse that popped into my head as what I would choose as the text for such a sermon. To be candid, though, insofar as I'm concerned, it entirely reflects aspiration rather than reality.
2. Jeremiah 31:3: I have loved you with an everlasting love. I've been thinking a lot recently about the two or three messages are becoming the ones that I preach over and over. That's what one of my seminary professors says about preachers; that's what F. Scott Fitzgerald said about novelists: we all have a couple of things to say, and we spend our lives repeating them. This is the first of my three. God has loved us from all time and loves us into all time.
3. Matthew 28:20: I am with you always, to the end of the age. This is probably the verse that has been most in mind for me since my son died. I have not cared that much, not at all really, about God's absence where I myself am concerned. I have been persistently and consistently tormented about where God was for my child, my beautiful child who is gone. And so I try to remember that Jesus is always the most interested in and the most present to those most in need, most lost, most beset by feelings of having been abandoned.
4. John 20:26-27: "A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.” My faith having always been of the wintery rather than the summery variety, always one more characterized by doubt than by assurance, Thomas is one of my favorite people in the Bible. And Jesus' response to him ~ Jesus' willingness to do whatever it takes to overcome doubt and to send forth the doubter ~ is one of the ways that I know Jeremiah 31:3 and Matthew 28:20.
5. Revelation 21:1-4. Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “See, the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them as their God; they will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them; he will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away.” The reasons are obvious. I spent a lot of time on this one in the discussions and paper I wrote for my class on Miroslav Volf last spring, when I became engrossed in his thesis in The End of Memory ~ that the final end of true reconciliation for all of us in the eschaton will be that God will wipe away all tears and that the memory of what we have endured here will be no more. There used to be a wonderful link to the Edgar Bainton setting on youtube that pictured the music (I find it difficult to follow the words in all four parts), but it's gone; here's another one: