As has become our custom, at the May Congregational Business meeting we announced our new focus for 2018-2019. Beginning with the program year in September, this next year will be “The Year of the Bible.” Pastor Tim and I are developing a plan so that by the end of May 2019 we will have read the entire Bible (with a few breaks to catch our breath). I’m hoping it doesn’t take much to convince you why this is important, but it may take a little extra explanation to convince you why you should join in and include your whole family. The Bible is one of the most influential books in all of history. Whether or not someone is a Christian, they can probably name a handful of Bible stories because they show up in literature, songs, and pop culture. The Bible, while a gathering of books penned by different authors, contains in its pages a long narrative following the faith history of the people of Israel. Throughout scripture, we can see the arc of God’s faithfulness as God cares for and redeems the world. Like any good story, the narrative rises and falls, the people succeed and fail, God celebrates and mourns.
The problem with how we read the Bible is we often read it in sections separate from their context in the broader narrative of God’s story. We often read scripture in devotionals that take a snippet of scripture and try to teach us something. Or we hear sermons about one particular story in the Bible. This has its place but it doesn’t allow us to see the bigger story that weaves through each chapter and verse. Over the next year we will get a chance to put the puzzle pieces of scripture back together so we can see the greater story of what God has done and what God is doing to redeem the world.
When we immerse ourselves in the big picture of scripture, we are invited to find our place in God’s story. We are encouraged to hear the Spirit’s voice calling us through these stories. As we engage the scripture we should ask questions like: With whom do I relate? To which voice or perspective do I resonate? What does this teach me about God? What does this teach me about humanity? What’s my role to play?
Scripture wasn’t meant to be interpreted alone, so we will take the opportunity to engage each other as we do our read-through. We will have opportunities for you to join in the conversation and explore with one another the meaning of these stories for our time and place. It is our responsibility as members of this faith community to seek out what God might say to us through scripture. The Bible isn’t a historical document to be preserved in a museum but is a living Word with relevance for today.
So join in the journey. There will be ways for children and adults alike to be a part of this unique experience. I hope you will take on this challenge and I pray that together we can hear what God might say to us through the gift of scripture.