At a recent adult class at Trinity Church, we talked about the spiritual life and our understanding of scripture. We acknowledged that the Old Testament consists of books written by the people of the Old Covenant, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, to show God at work in nature and history. And the New Testament consists of books written by the people of the New Covenant, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, to set forth the life and teachings of Jesus and to proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom for all people. These definitions are found in the Book of Common Prayer and are part of the Catechism.

This was the easy part in our class. The difficulty comes when we try to interpret what we have read. For some Christians the interpretation is just what it says as if it had been dictated by God word for word. But that understanding causes a big problem. Why did God change God's mind so many times? For example, "You have heard that it was said, 'An eye for an eye and a tooth for tooth'. But I say to you, "Do not resist an evildoer." (See Matthew 5:38-48) There are a number of times when Jesus changed the message from what was understood in the Old Testament. We also read in the Old Testament accounts of God destroying Israel's enemies or letting the Israelites be defeated because of their unfaithfulness. But in the New Testament God is not identified as a God of violence but a God of Love. (1 John 4:16) Certainly an attribute of love is not mass destruction.

The class acknowledged that our hope in religion is to "get it right." We'd like to have definitive answers to all of our questions. But in our practice of faith we are dealing with a great Mystery. God is beyond our complete understanding. Any assumption that we have a full understanding of God is only an idol of our making. But with a sense of awe when it comes to understanding God, we keep praying and manage to feel the spirit of God in our lives and in loving relationships.

One of our faithful members, a former coach, said, "The goalpost keeps getting moved!" And indeed it does. We think we have God and the Bible figured out even with conflicting evidence, but our venture to reach the goalpost of understanding only puts us further into the realm of wonder. God is so great that our best achievement is humility, with little understanding, yet happy with our journey in faith.

Charles Wesley said it so beautifully in his hymn, "Love divine." The closing stanza lets us know what the journey is all about.

"Finish then thy new creation; pure and spotless let us be; let us see thy great salvation perfectly restored in thee; changed from glory into glory, till in heaven we take our place, till we cast our crowns before thee, lost in wonder, love, and praise."