American folk-singer Woody Guthrie’s only novel was titled, “House of Earth.” Guthrie spent his final years in an institution suffering from Huntington's disease. There is a story about Guthrie loaning a copy of the book to a fellow patient. When Woody asked him if he enjoyed the book, the reply was, “best book I ever ate!”
This is what I often think of what I hear today’s Collect prayer. “Eternal God, who caused all holy scriptures to be written for our learning, grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them…” Like so much else in our Faith, this idea is not to be understood literally. I am quite capable of figuratively digesting something.
The point, obviously, is to let the hope expressed in scripture and in the life of Jesus Christ to be so engrained in our lives that it is simply a part of who we are. We are what we inwardly digest.
A common criticism made of Christians is that we are hypocrites. We say one thing but do another. I think that it’s an unfair observation – for the most part. There’s a difference between hypocrisy and failure. Sure, Christians fall short of our goal, we sin, but we also try. While a hypocrite, on the other hand, says one thing and does another without even trying to do what he or she should.
The hope promised by Jesus Christ and attested to in our faith is for everyone. The Christian who fails and the hypocrite who doesn’t even try, both are loved by God and both can be forgiven. The bread we break together is not for ourselves alone, it is for the whole world. That little wafer is the Body of Christ, given for the world and it is, “the best I ever ate.”