Inwardly Digesting

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Then Jesus looked up at his disciples and said, ‘Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled.’

— Luke 6:20a, 21a

One of my favorite collects in the Book of Common Prayer is the one appointed for the Sunday closest to November 16 in Year A of the three-year lectionary cycle. Although I’m sure you’ve memorized every collect appointed for every day in the liturgical year, I’ll refresh your memory. It reads as follows:

Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning: Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

There’s just something about that phrase “inwardly digest” that makes me both smile and think. Sure, I have a fleeting image of chomping on the Bible — perhaps as an appetizer but more likely as a main course. We are what we eat, after all, as the saying goes.

But then I move to the more metaphorical realm of spiritual nourishment. I’m reminded of Jesus’ words when he was tempted by satan in the wilderness following his baptism in the Jordan, “One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” A reminder that we need both physical and spiritual nourishment in order to fully live.

And yet there is something viscerally appealing about the notion of inwardly digesting Scripture. Of devouring this Holy Book that tells the stories of our faith, introduces us to Jesus, actively demonstrates God’s love for humanity, and bids us to go and do likewise. This is the entrée of a fruitful, faithful existence. It is the bread of angels of which we mortals eat and are sustained.

May we maintain an insatiable appetite for the Word of God; a spiritual hunger that never fully subsides. And in so doing, may we be blessed by the fulfillment of God’s love for us.

This week’s author is the Rev. Tim Schenck, rector of the Episcopal Parish of St. John the Evangelist in Hingham, Massachusetts and creator of the wildly popular Lenten devotion Lent Madness. When not tending to his parish, drinking coffee, or blogging at Clergy Confidential, he’s likely hanging out with his family that includes his wife Bryna, two teenage sons Benedict and Zachary, his dog Delilah, and a ferret named Mimi. Friend him on Facebook or follow him on Twitter @FatherTim.

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