The Bible is a foundational part of our faith. The stories of humanity's encounter with God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit inspire us, guide us, and challenge us. The Bible is made up of 2 main sections, the Old Testament and the New Testament. The Episcopal Church and some other denominations also read the Apocrypha.
The Bible is not one long, coherent story read from the first chapter through to the end. It's instead like a library made up of various books. The name Bible means books. The books may be history, poetry, prophecy, myths and fables. They may be Gospels (a particular name given to the four accounts of Jesus and his ministry), letters, and more history. Some books of the Bible tell the same story but were written during different eras, the books of Kings and Chronicles, for example.
Each Sunday, we read 4 portions of Holy Scripture. Two readings are from the Old Testament, also called the Hebrew Scriptures, since most of the books were originally written in Hebrew. One of these readings often includes a Psalm, a collection of Jewish poetry and hymnody. Two readings are from the New Testament, originally written in Greek, and one of these readings will always be from one of the four Gospels.
The Gospels, a word meaning good news, were written by people as they shared their encounters with Jesus so future generations would know the stories. They are, in order of appearance in the New Testament, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. While they all have similarities, they also have differences.
Most people, if they try to read the Bible, become overwhelmed and discouraged after a few tries. It's a long collection of books. Thankfully, there are some great helps out there if you'd like to read the Bible. One is The Bible Challenge from Forward Movement, a book that guides readers through the entire Bible in a year. We will begin at St. Michael's on October 29th a Journey through the Bible that will invite readers to explore and engage Holy Scripture in some imaginative and fun ways - if you'd like more information, there's a sign up sheet on the bulletin board. And here's a link for a great survey of children's Bibles to make reading the Bible a family event. Some other ideas for reading the Bible include starting with one book, like the Gospel we're currently reading in Church (that's Matthew, in case you're wondering) or reading a Psalm or two each day.
Why read and study the Bible?
Well, first because it is the story of our faith. Thousands of years of humans and their joys, grief, insights, and spectacular failures as they follow God are important to us. When we read and study the Bible, we engage and encounter God. Reading the Bible is an act of worship and prayer.
Secondly, because people quote the Bible ALL THE TIME, and often incorrectly. How will you know if the Bible really says all the things its accused of saying if you've never read it? Well, you can't. If you've never read the Bible for yourself, you have to depend on the person telling you what it says, and that can be a risky proposition given what some people say.
And thirdly, because reading the Bible is a gift. We often are quick to forget that not that long ago, women and men died - yep, you read that right - DIED - for the very act of reading the Bible in their native language. For centuries, only certain people, mostly clergy, were allowed the right to read the Bible and common people (read: most of us) were not allowed to read the Bible. That changed with the Reformation 500 years ago and with the printing press. Many faithful women and men translated, printed and smuggled copies of the Bible to people in Europe so they could read the Word of God for themselves. Reading the Bible as God's Word is an act of faith and an act of thanksgiving.
If you're interested in engaging the Bible, join us as we begin a journey through Holy Scripture. Even if you can't attend every class, you can get some ideas on how you can make the Word of God present in your life through the Bible.
While we rejoice in our time together during worship and other activities, we know that spiritual life is not confined to our beautiful building. We also gather online, using social media to stay connected.
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