Church Write-Up: Parental Equation, Bruised Reed and Smoldering Wick, Costly Parchment

Here are three items about Sunday morning’s LCMS service.

A. The youth pastor was saying that children should honor their parents. Our parents are not perfect, he said, but they have done for us more than we have done for them. That may not be true for everyone, but it has been true for me.

B. The pastor talked about how we do not like to fail. Some of us quit projects midway because we are frustrated and we would rather quit than fail. Or we paint a bulls-eye around our arrow, rationalizing to ourselves that we hit the target. When it comes to God’s commands about how we should live, we find ourselves in many cases missing the target altogether. God did not give us the law just so we can fail, however, for the law instructs us as to how to live God’s way of life, different from what the world lives.

Jesus is God’s ultimate servant who acted in a manner that glorifies God. Isaiah 42:3 affirms that the servant shall not break a bruised reed or snuff out a smoldering wick. A bruised reed was a reed that was bent over by the winds and unable to become straight. We may find ourselves broken by life and by our sins, unable in our own strength to get back up. Like a smoldering wick, our sin and selfishness have snuffed out our relationships with God and others.

C. The Sunday school class was the series about the production of books in antiquity. Papyri were good for books because they were from plants, whereas animals (for leather and parchment) were costly to raise. But papyri mainly grew in Egypt and, as plants, dried out and became brittle. Leather and parchment were more durable but were from animals, and it was costly to raise animals for writing material, to devote time and resources to feeding and watering them when most people went to bed hungry. The teacher was illustrating and reinforcing a point that he made last week: that it was costly to produce books. Consequently, even scribes with adequate materials abbreviated some words to spread out the supply of their materials.

Suppose, the teacher said, you have Ron in one city and Jay in the other. Both are Christians. They ask each other what books each other’s church has. Ron’s church has the Gospel of Matthew and the Gospel of the Ebionites. Jay’s church has the Gospel of Mark and the Gospel of Mary. They then ask each other what they use in church services, and Ron’s church uses the Gospel of Matthew, and Jay’s church uses the Gospel of Mark. Each wants a copy of the other’s Gospel, but it would take a while for them to get that. They have to get the materials and find a scribe, then transporting the material will be time-consuming. The teacher was saying that one reason for canonization—deciding which books to copy and circulate for usage—was economic: they had to pick which books they deemed important, since books were costly to make.

About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting. I have degrees in fields of religious studies. I have an M.Phil. in the History of Biblical Interpretation from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. I also have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University.
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