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Reading the Bible

Do we read the Bible?

I’ve heard it time and time again – that we as Episcopals do not read the bible.  That we are not a “bible-based” church or religion.  It has me wondering – what exactly does that mean?  Is it true that we do not “read the bible?”  Far from the truth!

Think about it – what do we hear at every service?  The Eucharist contains three readings – usually from the Old Testament, New Testament, and Psalter – and a Gospel reading.  These cycle over a three year period, so if you do nothing else in bible study except attend the Eucharist every week, in a three year period you will hear most of the bible.  Not bad for a church that is “not” bible-based, eh?  How many people pick up, read, and study what the bible tells us?

Reading the entire bible (and for Episcopalians, that includes the Apocrypha) is a daunting task.  It is full of history, wisdom, war, bloodshed, rituals that now seem out of place, good advice, and examples of how to live life.  But how do you start?

 

 

There are many schools of thought on how to read the bible.  You could try picking it up, starting at page 1 and reading it completely through.  Many try and fail, getting hung up in the early history books of the Pentateuch (first five books of the old testament).  You could stick to the Revised Common Lectionary, which will have you jumping all over the place from week to week.  You could look for a program that helps.  Many exist online; some are free and some are not.  You could join a formal program such as Education for Ministry, which during its first two years sees the old and new testament read.

Reading is one thing – comprehending is another.  Reading the bible might be better classed as “studying” the bible.  Read the scripture.  Study it.  Find out how it may apply in our times, and integrate that into your life.

Every January the youth across our Diocese attend Miqra, an event where starting Friday and ending Monday, the entire bible is read, from the beginning of Genesis through the end of Revelations.  It gives our youth an idea of the complexity of the scripture.  Bishop Wolfe once gave a workshop when he noted just how daunting a task it may seem to read the entire bible.  He also broke it down though, by finding the shortest Gospel (Mark) and asking if the kids thought they could read that.  From there, you just add on.  It was a wonderful way to introduce reading scripture.

Regardless of how you do it, reading and studying the bible is a wonderful thing.  Study tools are out there to help if you feel you need them.  Groups exist that you can participate in if necessary.  But please, READ!  I’ll bet you'll be glad when you do!

 

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