Repeat, Repeat, Repeat

Psalm 24 – The 18th Sunday after Pentecost – for Sunday, September 27, 2015

“Our help is in the name of the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.” (Psalm 124:8)

Look both ways . . .
Look both ways . . .

Look both ways before you cross the street.

Eat your vegetables.

Don’t put your elbows on the table at meals.

Make your bed.

Always say please and thank you.

My parents repeated these and many other statements. The oft-said phrases were house rules, family guidelines, loving warnings, and life lessons.

When my wife and I brought a puppy into our home this year, one of the first phrases she heard was, “Do your business.” Actually, Kynzi—our irksome, wondrous golden retriever devil and angel dog—never heard that phrase inside the home. But the moment her cute little butt roamed the yard, and it appeared she might be on the verge of, er, losing a little waste weight, we proclaimed: “Do your business.” Continue reading →

Holy Repetition

Psalm 78:1-7 – The 22nd Sunday of Ordinary Time – for Sunday, November 9, 2014

“I’ll declare riddles from days gone, ones that we’ve heard and learned about, ones that our ancestors told us . . .” (Psalms 78:2)

106098The writer of Psalm 78 wrote, “I’ll declare riddles from days gone, ones that we’ve heard and learned about, ones that our ancestors told us . . .”

And indeed the Bible does repeat (and repeat) those ancestral riddles, stories, parables, and more. How many times are the same stories shared, added to, referenced, and sometimes simply repeated throughout scripture? How often were the Israelites reminded they were the children of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob? How often was the exodus referenced? David lived and died, and was never forgotten, in story after story.

Of course, it wasn’t just one person who wrote the Old Testament; instead the hands, hearts, hopes, and hubris from many went in the telling of the tales. The writing and revising of the books in the Biblical “library” took centuries. Even the New Testament, with Paul’s earliest letters likely written in the mid 50s CE and the final parts of the official Christian “canon” occurring well before the end of 200 CE, spanned several lifetimes. Everyone who had anything to do with putting words in the Bible wanted—needed—to include their version of events.

So, stories were repeated.

I’ve read that people need to hear about something at least six times before remembering that “something.” We require repetition for retention. I’m sure there are those who need to be told about a new event but once . . . well, good for them! However, a story repeated sixty times might be inadequate for the rest of us befuddled masses. We are overwhelmed by the endless torrent of new news (or recycled, rehashed, ridiculous junk) in this “information age.”

We often say we hear. But do we? Continue reading →