Reading scripture evokes such a wide range of reactions in people. Some will read scripture with daily disciple. Some could not find their Bible if it held family heirlooms. Other people have favorite passages and repeatedly go to the same text to affirm their faith. And yet, others will read with innocence to let the text read them and scripture speak anew about human kind and God. Did you find yourself in this list?
The variety of ways people read scripture was reflected in your response to the first installment of our DysFUNctional Family series about Jacob’s deceit and God’s steadfast covenant:
“I love this story.”
“This was really in the Bible? I mean, people doing those kinds of thing?”
“Rarely does anyone preach on this text.” (In other words: why did you?)
“I’d forgotten about this story – what comes next?”
“Don’t you know this is just myth? These kinds of things never really happened.” (Really? On Sunday, the NYTimes reported on the death of a Vietnamese immigrant who died with 16 children from 5 women and left $100 million estate.)
In Bill Evertsberg’s sermon on practices of highly faithful congregations, he challenged us to tithe 10% of our time to our faith: worship, pray, serve and read scripture.
Reading scripture is often difficult for most congregants since the Bible is rarely a familiar text and the messages can be so shrouded in stories of ancient origin. Somehow seeking The Word of God can lead to more frustration rather than faith.
If you don’t enjoy reading your Bible alone, go easy on yourself. It wasn’t produced for coherence among the breadth of authors, genres or eras. Nor, was it written for individual consumption.
Throughout much of Jewish and Christian history, the Bible was read out loud, and listened to, in groups. Teachers read and led conversation about God and human life.
People memorized the words and told the stories to each other. Generations later, they wrote them down, by hand, on heavy scrolls. There were very few written copies, so people got together and listened to someone read it. But it didn’t end in silence. Naturally, they talked, debated, interpreted and listened to each other’s questions.
In these conversations, we can learn to find ourselves in the stories, discern how God is present in our lives, and find common bonds with others.
Come back on Sunday as we continue to read and ponder our original dysfunctional family. Jacob will be leaving Haran to return to his home and face his brother Esau, who had promised to kill him. In this journey, Jacob will face his fears and those things that go bump in the night.
Associate Minister for Congregational Care