Thursday, October 16, 2008
My first recollection of memorizing scripture takes me back to a small country church outside of Waycross, Ga. Pierce Chapel Methodist was the name of this church so small the scriptural word about "two or three gathered in my name" would be descriptive of a crowd. Actually, it seated a few more, but not too many. Back then only dirt roads took you there and even then there were more headstones in the surrounding cemetery than there were people in the pews.
On Sunday night a part of the worship service involved the children quoting Bible verses in exchange for a star by your name on the chart which hung alongside the record of attendance. It was because of this holy competition that I learned the shortest verse in the Bible at age 8. It is as you know John 11:35. The NRSV which I now use makes it a bit wordy as it says, "Jesus began to weep." While four words may not seem verbose, please remember the KJV of the Bible simply reads, "Jesus wept." You cannot get any shorter than a verse with two words! Of course, these were also the days for learning things like the 23rd Psalm and John 3:16.
Memorizing scripture is not something I have been as disciplined about as I should have been. The verses I have learned over the years have usually had more to do with frequent usage than being intentional about memorization. For some reason I have recently found myself back at it again. And, yes, I have been working on some verses longer than two words. I have been surprised at the way repeating something for the purpose of memorization causes me to experience the text in a new and different way. Hearing myself say the text over and over brings to light some things I had missed only by silent reading. Interesting. But, then I am likely miles behind you on this one. I imagine some of you remember longer verses than two words when you think of your first Bible memorization efforts. Can you recall the first verse you memorized?