These Words are Made for Eating

Monday, November 4, 2013 — Week of Proper 26, Year One

[Go to Mission St Clare for an online version of the Daily Office including today’s scripture readings.]

Today’s Readings for the Daily Office:

Psalms 56, 57, [58] (morning) // 64, 65 (evening)

Nehemiah 6:1-19

Revelation 10:1-11

Matthew 13:36-43

Our second reading today contains a cryptic image: a little open scroll, held by a mighty angel with a rainbow over his head, a face like the sun, and legs like pillars of fire. What do you do with an image like that? Unfold it, ponder it, try to read it? No: it turns out that you eat it.

Sometimes, there is no better way to proceed with the Scriptures. Take a portion, open it, and start eating. The angel warns the visionary in today’s reading that the scroll will be “bitter to your stomach, but sweet as honey in your mouth.” Indeed, the visionary tells us, “it was sweet as honey in my mouth, but when I had eaten it, my stomach was made bitter.” Those of us who have indulged in Halloween candy recently may know the feeling.

And so it is when we read the Scriptures. Some cherished verses feel so sweet on our lips. Other Biblical passages unsettle our guts. Perhaps our difficulty with digesting some passages means that they are challenging and nourishing us, slowly but surely.

The wonderful thing about eating Scriptures—or any other message from God—is that we don’t need to swallow anything whole. We can taste, we can process, we can break things down. Some portions deliver pleasure and comfort right away. Other portions are built into our bodies and incorporated into our lives over time. And the rest, well . . . it can just pass on.

I don’t often know what to make of the Revelation to John, but I find great encouragement in this vision. When God has something to say to us, he doesn’t just write something down. He gives us something to eat.

Lora Walsh blogs about taking risks and seeking grace at A Daily Scandal. She serves as curate of Grace Episcopal Church in Siloam Springs and as director of the Ark Fellows, an Episcopal Service Corps program sponsored by St. Paul’s in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

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