The teaching of the Lord is perfect and revives the soul;
the testimony of the Lord is sure and gives wisdom to the simple.
The statutes of the Lord are just and rejoice the heart;
the commandment of the Lord is clear and gives light to the eyes.
The fear of the Lord is clean and endures forever;
the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.
More to be desired are they than gold, more than much fine gold,
sweeter far than honey, than honey in the comb. – Psalm 19:7-10
(Picture of Morio Higaonna, the head of the International Okinawan Goju-Ryu Karate-do Federation)
One of the greatest experiences in college was being able to study Karate (technically, I am a member of the International Okinawan Goju-Ryu Karate-do Federation). I am much more of a novice than I would like to be or admit with regard to this martial art, yet I love it. Being a student of karate has also influenced how I see the study and practice of the Christian faith.
There are some easy parallels that can be made: Japanese often adds the word “-do” to the end of “Karate.” This suffix of “-do” is best translated into English as “the way of.” According to the book of Acts, the earliest Christians called our faith, “the way.” However, there are deeper parallels as well. To gain mastery in Karate, one uses strategic repetition. One might say it is just “going through the moves” but it is mindfully so. In Christianity, and liturgically minded Lutheran Christianity especially, we gain a deeper understanding of the faith through repetition of reading Scripture, prayers, liturgies, and catechisms (the word catechism comes from the Greek verb meaning “to sound again”).
In Psalm 19, the author declares the beauty of God’s teachings and commandments. When the psalms are being composed, the commandments were already written in Scripture. The way to find the joy that the psalmist has in God’s teaching is through repetition. It is in going deeper with the text that the riches are found, unlike a sound-bite that is heard one day and discarded the next.
There is wisdom in the repetition. There is wisdom in “sounding again.” There might be days when you keep going through it but cannot get it (there were definitely some days like that with karate for myself). When you face those days, I encourage you to keep at it. Practice leads us to the way of our Lord Jesus Christ. This can be practice in reading Scripture, in prayer, and in worship.
God continue to be with you,
Yours in Christ, Pastor Paul+