Life's interpretation

by Stephanie Olson (WordAlone board member)

April 25, 2005

I just returned from the WordAlone convention. Even though I have been serving as a lay representative of our church on the board for a year now, this was my first WA convention. (I was elected in absentia at the convention in 2004). It was well worth my time to be there and to see so many people who are faithful to Christ and faithfully dedicated to his church, which include churches in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

The convention topic, "The Authority of Scripture," was presented from various viewpoints. Discussion was lively and faith-filled as we looked at the authority of God's Word and its work of interpretation for our lives. My "take-home" from the convention was a new meaning of "scriptural interpretation." "Interpretation" does not mean just "word analysis" or the use of Bible aids to analyze scriptural text. It may also be understood as the work of Scripture as an interpreter/translator for us simple human beings in our daily attempts to know, understand and walk with our awesome, Creator God.

It is with joy that I share that the power of God's Word for human beings, for me, has been more real than two and a half days of meetings even with four great lectures. God's Word has shown its power in my daily life and in the life of a young woman I was privileged to mentor for a year after her confirmation. This is her story, shared with me the first time we met.

Krista's family had drifted away from attending worship in any church because of a disagreement over employment of a family member at a church. Anger pushed them away and they stayed distant. However, as Krista moved into junior high, her family realized she was missing out on religious education and decided to join our church shortly before Krista started seventh grade. They enrolled Krista in confirmation. Her mother, realizing their previous lack of church involvement had limited her daughter's religious education, handed her a Bible and told her to read it because "you'll need to know what's in this for confirmation and you don't want to start out behind the others." So, Krista said, she sat down and read the Bible. She found the answers for which she had been searching for life.

Thus, the interpretive power of God's Word revealed itself again to me, at work in this young heart and mind.

There is a sad component to this story. When Krista started confirmation she found out her mother was wrong on one point. The other kids in confirmation had not read the Bible and did not know what was "in there." Krista emerged from confirmation with faith in a God who interprets life for her daily. She knows her Lord Jesus. Too many of the others in her confirmation class do not, in spite of the best efforts of dedicated Christian adults during three years of teaching.

At this WA convention, we were offered a challenge by Prof. Gracia Grindal and Diane Eaton, also WA board members. Gracia came upon this challenge, which started in Denmark, while on sabbatical. She is bringing it here. It is a Bible Marathon–sitting down and reading the Bible. She and Diane told the story of some clergy in Denmark who read the Bible in two weeks while on educational leave. Because most lay people in Denmark don't have two solid weeks to do so, they are doing Bible marathons, reading the entire Bible in one year. Most meet every two weeks to discuss and support each other in their "running" the Bible marathon.

Through this, the Christian faith in Denmark is being re-born. But Gracia's witness shows God is not limited by geography and that the Holy Spirit is using her to bring this here to the U.S.A. I am excited, and my prayer is that we may again be open to the interpretive power of God's Word in Scripture; that what happened to Krista and to thousands of people in Denmark may also happen here. Why? That we may let God truly show us abundant life through Jesus Christ. That we may have interpreted for us in our daily lives the power and riches and grace and love of the living God who is here and is not silent, but wants to speak, personally, to each of us daily. I truly believe that when we choose to run the Bible marathon we will run and not grow weary, we will bear fruit, abundantly, and we will know the peace that passes all understanding.