There have been a few members of the church that have read the Bible “cover to cover.” In fact, one of our late members read it cover to cover six times. Six times!
Some of us have read portions here and there - be it in Sunday School or Confirmation. While a great number of us, and I suspect this is true for a rather large population, have had the Bible read to us...on Sunday...in church…
Yet there seems to be a very strong interest in reading the Bible, but how? There are some great suggestions out of the ELCA to help build Biblical literacy and to allow us to explore the texts that make up our Holy Book.
It is highly encouraged to read the Bible in community - reading it alone is problematic. It does not give you the ability to ask questions or to hear the text from others’ points of view. It also is encouraging to be with others especially when the text brings up difficult and confusing subjects.
Reading the Bible outside of its context has yielded centuries of troubles and abuse of the book itself. We have to remember that each book of the Bible was written in a specific time, specific place, and directed to a specific audience that was originally NOT us. That means we need to be prepared for a bit of history and culture lessons in order to fully appreciate what it is we are reading. With careful attention to the original context we can then begin to see how the text can apply to us today - how it can teach us and pose questions to us. After all, the Bible is not a fortune cookie or magic eight ball that answers questions - think of it more as a source to pose questions and encourage us to explore ourselves and our texts deeper.
We cannot force Scripture to answer our questions - faithful readers will allow Scripture to probe us and ask us questions.
When we begin to read the Bible in a more open and prayerful way we begin to realize that we cannot neglect the Bible and relegate it to just a few moments on a Sunday. It becomes part of who we are and how we live.
If you are interested in seeing this in action, I highly encourage you to take part in the Covenant Bible Study program sponsored by the Lutheran Churches of New Castle County and our Ecumenical partners. CLICK THIS LINK to learn more about the study.
For days and times please see the bulletin board across from the Pastor’s Study in Frederick Memorial Hall. (I will be teaching the Tuesday morning class beginning September at St. Paul’s in Newark).
Yours in Christ,