It’s important to remember that the writers of Scripture never sat down to write Scripture. They sat down to write the truth about God as they had lived and experienced it. Only as their truth was received and blessed by others did it became the truth of a community. And slowly, over time, as each generation received these truths and claimed them as their own, somewhere along the way what began as the truth about God as revealed to one person was transformed to be the truth about God as revealed to a people. In other words, Scripture.
This is something of what happens here in Jeremiah. The prophet charges his scribe, Baruch, with putting the word that the Lord revealed to him to the page, and then proclaiming it to the congregation. Generations later, that scroll that claims to contain God’s truth to the people at that time and place becomes the Book of Jeremiah, which we claim contains God’s truth for us today.
We tend to emphasize the individual nature of our faith, but one of the turning points in my own faith journey was realizing that divine inspiration comes to us most reliably through a community. God may speak to us through individual lives and experiences—in fact, I’m sure God does. But it is the community of God’s people that vets, hones, and refines this raw material into something we can all use.
This process is true with more than would-be Scripture. It’s how we make sense of the yearnings of our own heart, the dream we keep having, the inkling or spark that just won’t let us go, the doubt that churns our stomach, the hope that slows our breathing. We bring these scrolls before the congregation, even if that’s just over coffee with a close friend. We speak them aloud and hand them over to God’s people, trusting that whatever truth there is within them will not be lost.
What, or whom, is your community of inspiration?
God, make me a vessel of your truth and give me ears to hear the truth you reveal in others. Amen.