I’ve never been successful with New Year’s resolutions to exercise more, eat less or get organized. For some reason, however, a promise to read Scripture every week is one resolution I finally kept!
In January 2013, First Mennonite Church, Edmonton, posted a lectionary reading challenge, with goals of encouraging members to prepare for worship, read the Bible regularly and discuss Scripture with each other.
Congregants who signed up committed to reading the lectionary passages as listed in the bulletin each week. As one of the pastors, I signed and resolved to post a weekly blog on our church website to keep myself accountable. Looking back on a year of regular reading and reflecting, I have a chance to evaluate, to see if the goals were met.
One hope was for the blog to create some Scripture discussion online. That did not happen. Comments were few and far between, and the view count was low. I have little evidence the blog made any difference to the congregation, but for me, personally, it was well worth the effort.
Regular reflection on Scripture met the goal of preparing me for worship, especially on the Sundays when I was not preaching or otherwise involved in the service. I listened to sermons in a deeper way. I noticed the inflections readers brought to the passages that were different from my own, bringing out layers of meaning and interpretation I might otherwise have missed. I heard bits of Scripture in hymns, which reinforced the message and helped me appreciate the thoughtful work of our worship leaders, musicians and children’s storytellers.
But more than preparing me to listen in worship, regular immersion in Scripture had me listening for God in daily life away from church. I was amazed at how often the readings cast light on what was happening in the world around me.
On April 30, I blogged about the story of Jesus healing a paralyzed man (John 5:1-9). All that week I had worked on an article about chronic pain for Canadian Mennonite. The passage came alive for me because of the people I had interviewed for the piece.
On May 6, when the news was full of the story of the Bangladeshi factory collapse, I read about how Paul set a slave girl free (Acts 16:16-34). It helped me reflect on how people are exploited for money and what happens when people stand up for what is right.
In July, while our family volunteered at a homeless shelter, many of the Scriptures dealt with issues of poverty and portrayed Jesus as a champion of the poor. Scripture helped me look at the homeless as children of God.
Because I am now regularly paying attention to Scripture, I see things from new perspectives, I have ready words of encouragement when I am down and I am more aware of God in the stories of the people around me.
For 2014, I plan to keep on reading and blogging about the ways Scripture is alive every day and everywhere (fmclectionary.blogspot.ca).
--Posted Jan. 29, 2014
Vietnamese Mennonites read the Bible in a year (Feb. 3, 2014)
A Year of Reading Biblically starts now (Dec. 16, 2013)
Daily Guide for A Year of Living Biblically: Part 1 (Dec. 16, 2013)
Time for what’s important (Feb. 3, 2014)