Thursday, August 02, 2012

Reading the Bible/Studying the Scriptures in the Episcopal Church

I've been working on an article for the Living Pulpit on reading the Bible in the Episcopal Church and when it's published, I'll link to it. It's due out later this fall with all the other presentations at the June 18th conference on Reading Scripture in various denominations held at the ABS in NYC. It has been heartening to hear and see so much Spirit inspired activity around reading the Bible in Episcopal Churches up and down the country. I've talked to people in Illinois, South Carolina, Maryland, and the North East. In the meantime, let me encourage people and priests in congregations to consider reading the Bible! There are plenty of resources out there: the Bible Challenge from St Thomas Whitemarsh (they also have a FB page), for example. Here's one from the national church.

The first thing to do is to create a welcoming atmosphere--one that avoids notions of guilt or shame or "shoulds" that people harbor for not having read the Bible at all or enough. "No one's ever invited me to read the Bible before," one parishioner said. Invite people into a wonderful joyous exploration that will be theirs for the rest of their lives.

Plans for a yearly or monthly or weekly Bible Study need to cater for those who can't do all the readings. There might be different tiers of study including maximal and minimal participation or advice that says, "Don't try to catch up if you are behind! Start each week afresh."

Any plan for reading could include a password-protected webspace or discussion board where people can post contributions, comments and discussion topics. This includes participants from the outset and values their contributions.

Making provision for weekly bible reading discussion groups in a parish context are essential even if participation varies. Some parishes had men's breakfast bible studies, choir bible studies, young parents/mothers bible studies, teen bible studies and young adult bible studies. All these could be in addition to the adult education slot on Sunday.

All Bible Study is best undertaken in prayer.

 “BLESSED Lord, who hast caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning: Grant that we may in such wise hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that by patience and comfort of thy holy Word, we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which thou hast given us in our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.”

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