Some Christians call the Bible – the collection of Jewish and Christian holy scriptures – a manual for living. I believe the treasure of these scriptures means so much more than a set of instructions for all who “love Christ, who earnestly repent of their sin and seek to live in peace with one another.” Greek iconography celebrates the ability of an image to transport the viewer – the one who contemplates the image – to another reality (like a window, instead of a picture). I believe the Bible’s enduring power stems from this power to transport us into the presence of God.
We do not so much read the Bible as we practice inviting the scriptures to read us.
So when we study the Bible, we learn to study ourselves from new and ancient perspectives. Though much of the material is time-bound (and disciples profit much by learning and appreciating these ancient contexts), it also resonates with enduring truths about human and divine relationships and realities. Our scriptures did not fall from heaven, but emerged from the human struggle (Yis-ra-El, the name of the children of God, identifies those who struggle, or wrestle, with God) to know God, beyond and within all that is. This process includes collecting, editing, redacting, copying, preserving, translating, and revising translations – as well as the constantly renewing ratification of these truths by each successive generation.
I have included elsewhere on this website, a collection of Bible study and devotional resources, my favorite of which is Lectio Divina, or holy reading – really holy listening. This approach to Bible study invites the Holy Spirit to resonate the timeless truths embedded in scripture with our lives. We read (or hear read aloud) a passage from scripture while remaining open to what “jumps off the page” for us. A word, or a phrase. Or a connection – perhaps a tangent – with a theme or a concept. We notice strong reactions we feel, or situations or people with whom we identify strongly. Not so much to break down or even to understand/explain the idea that catches our attention – but to take notice of it, as Moses did when he saw the burning bush, and to turn aside.
I invite you to turn aside with me, as we take notice of God’s invitation to us all through this ancient and new treasure that is scripture. Perhaps we will come to know, even as we are fully known…
- Whatcoat UMC Bible Study/Worship Plan for September, 2015 – August, 2016