Gethsemane member Bev Paterson shared a Temple Talk about studying scripture on Sunday, October 5.
Today marks the beginning of our focus on Studying Scripture, one of the Elements of a Living Faith.
The Bible is God’s story—the story of God's interaction and relationship with people, as Creator, as Savior, as Counselor and Guide. Who among us, who call ourselves Christian, would disagree with the need to know that story, for as God's people, it is also our story.
"Thy word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path." These words from Psalm 119 make perfect sense.
In the course of my life I've been in and even led some wonderful Bible studies, some of which I've shared with several of you. Lest others of you be tempted to say, "Well, good for her, but that’s not my thing," I ask you to stay with me.
While I suppose I must give the Holy Spirit credit for steering me into Bible studies, I think I often did it because, basically, I'm a rule follower and I thought it was expected. I wanted information; I wanted to have verses on the tip of my tongue for just the right moment; I wanted black and white answers to life's questions and dilemmas.
Maybe your experience is totally different. Perhaps you are one who "took leave" from issues of faith after confirmation and when you resumed participation in a faith community, Bible study felt awkward. Maybe you think you don’t "know" enough and would be embarrassed if you let that show. Maybe, when trying Bible study on your own, a passage seems too harsh to be "Christian" or the words simply stay on the page, empty. You give up and pretty soon you don't open the Bible at all.
Whatever the reasons, chances are that at some point, Bible study has been difficult for many of us. I never have been able to have the "right" verse at hand for a given situation and there’s too much grey in my life's color scheme for me to always find clear, black and white answers in Scripture.
That being said, the wonderful thing about participating in Bible study over time is that I no longer focus on simply knowing the Bible, but rather on knowing God--God who consistently pursues us, God who abounds with grace and mercy, God who mourns and is even angry over the misplaced priorities of people-then and now, God who desires justice and care for the oppressed, God who, above all, wants to be in relationship with people and cares about how people are in relationship with one another-then and now.
Bible study is no longer simply about accumulating Bible knowledge, rather it is food for the soul, bread for the journey. In Behold Bible study on Thursdays, the texts for the coming Sunday are read and the question is asked, "What do you see here?" or "What strikes you or stirs you?" And then the conversation begins as the Spirit prompts us to share with and listen to another.
Through the words of Mary and Myles, the pastors, and all of the others, my sense of community deepens and scripture becomes the light for my path. It gives enough light for that day, at least for that moment or for the next step. That's why Bible study can’t be a now and again thing for me.
Would any of us eat a big meal at Christmas and then wait for the next holiday or celebration to eat again? Would a nice Sunday dinner last us all week? Of course not.
I encourage you not to be content with listening to scripture only during worship on Sunday. Find an additional way to take it in, chew on it and let it nourish your soul and be the lamp for your feet.