The Rector's Weekly Column

Rev. Victor H. Morgan


 

         Someone has said that the New Testament is to the Old Testament as the rose is to the bud. This saying is true.

         The same point could be made by looking at building and its foundation. Without a doubt, the bricks down below do not get the attention that those above do, but that does not mean they are unimportant. Indeed, the building is kept aloft only because they are there.

         Both of these illustrations should remind us of the importance of being “big-picture” people, that is, people who take into consideration both the bud and the flower, both the foundation and the seen structure. Sadly, many Christians fail to do this. They, for example, seem hopelessly unaware of how central the promises made to Abraham and the story of Israel in the Old Testament are to the story of Jesus and the announcement of the Kingdom in the New.

         If asked, they would no doubt say they believe the Old Testament to be the inspired Word of God, but, in practice, treat it otherwise. They seldom read it, and if they do, treat it as if it is merely a collection of unrelated stories. There is Noah and the Ark over here; the call of Abraham over there; and David slaying Goliath still somewhere else. And, what they usually get out of these stories – if they think about them at all -- is some moral lesson. In the case of Noah, it might be the importance of obeying God; in the case of Abraham, the virtue of faith; in the case of David and Goliath, the value of facing life’s challenges courageously.

         Well, there is nothing wrong with these extrapolations, especially if you are teaching boys and girls in Sunday School. But, my point is there is so much more. The Old Testament is the beginning of the story of God putting the world, battered and bruised by sin, back together again, but it is not complete. It is like a novel with the last chapter ripped out.

         Or, changing metaphors, it is like a piece of music that is building towards a grand crescendo but which, as of yet, has yet arrived at that crescendo. By way of illustration, I once had a tape of religious music on which the last song was “The Holy City”. Unfortunately, the tape ended just prior to the last bar of music, which was the great crescendo. One was brought to this great height and left ‘hanging’. Needless to say, it was rather disconcerting.

         Well, we find something like this happening when the Old Testament ends. God’s redemptive plan is announced and anticipated, but there is no resolution. The New Testament supplies the missing crescendo.

         As I write this, we are in the second half of the church year often referred to as Trinity-tide. The colour typically used for altar and pulpit hangings is a dark green, the colour of growth and life in the world of plants. What better time to focus on growth in our spiritual life?

         One way of cultivating this growth might be to step back and view both bud and rose, both foundation and structure, both Testaments in the light of the coming of Jesus?

         BLESSED Lord, who hast caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning; Grant that we may in such wise hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that by patience and comfort of thy holy Word, we may embrace, and ever hold fast, the blessed hope of everlasting life, which thou hast given us in our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.


The Rev. Victor H. Morgan is rector of St. Luke's Episcopal Church, Blue Ridge.


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