School is about to start, and with it comes the many “new beginnings” of the school year. Whether it is first day of kindergarten or the first day of college, there is much to look forward to in this season of the year.
Our Church is also beginning a new season. This school year I invite you to join me on an adventure reading selected verses that will take us through the major events of the Bible in 31 weeks. We will begin in September and finish in May. If you have not already picked up your copy of “The Story,” with the biblical texts printed for us in 31 chapters, please do so.
Getting ready for “The Story” has made me think about why we study the Bible. Over my vacation, our younger son was busy reading selected verses of the Old Testament for his tenth grade English class. The Biblical story is the necessary cultural background for a novel they are also reading this summer. You can’t understand the literary allusions to the great flood, or the walls of Jericho, if you have not read the Bible. Reading for cultural understanding is one reason for reading the Bible, but I doubt if many of us read our Bibles more than once with that end in mind.
Why do I continue to read the Bible? I do so because it is through reading the scriptures, meditating on their meaning, and praying about their application to my life, that I find myself transformed into more of who God wants me to be. Reading the Bible changes me.
One of my favorite methods of Bible study assumes that God’s story always intersects our story. In fact, God’s story (as found in the Bible) not only intersects our individual stories but our collective stories. Consider for a moment the story of Jesus and his encounter with two of his disciples after the resurrection while the disciples were returning home to their town of Emmaus. They did not recognize Jesus at first. Only after he explained the scriptures to them, and broke bread with them, were their eyes opened and they recognized him. In studying this passage together we may find that this story of Jesus and his disciples has parallels in our own lives. Perhaps there were times when we were blind to the truth that we now see so clearly. Perhaps someone once explained something to us that had been puzzling to us – and in so doing changed how we viewed the world. Listening to how God’s story intersects our stories is life-giving and life-changing. And it is why I return again and again to study the scriptures.
The words of the Declaration of Faith, found in our Book of Confessions, remind us that …
"The Bible is the account of God’s word and action in history together with his people’s response in faith. It tells how the Lord has moved with Israel and the church toward the kingdom of God, his just and loving rule over all. It is the story of the one God, who is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. That story is still unfolding and in faith we make it our own. It forms our memory and our hope. It tells us who we are and what we are to do. To retell it is to declare what we believe." [Declaration of Faith, 1.4]
“That story is still unfolding, and in faith we make it our own.” It is my hope and prayer that as we read and study the Bible this school year, God may use our study to change us, and through us change the corner of the world nearest to us.
With thanks in Christ,