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Hoosier Musings on the Road to Emmaus

Friday, January 19, 2007

"That's in the Bible?"

One of the good news/bad news things about Episcopal worship is the tremendous amount of scripture that we use each week. The good news is that we actually know far more of our Bible than we think we do. Not only do we read through a Eucharistic lectionary (Old Testament, Psalm, Epistle/New Testament and Gospel) which covers a tremendous amount in its three-year cycle, but our liturgical rituals and responses are steeped in biblical reference and quotation (though sources are rarely specifically cited as such).

The bad news is that we tend to take this for granted. It is easy to overlook the fact that the lectionary does not cover the whole Bible, for example. Many folks have not realized this. Some are content with their Sunday morning dose, and do not bother to read, let alone study, any further than that.

This was brought to my attention a few months back, when one woman acceded to another parishioner's encouragement to be a lector for the first time. She nervously asked to see the lessons for the following week so she could practice. I gladly began to write down the chapter and verse citations, only to be stopped by her embarrassed admission that she also needed to borrow a Bible, because the only one she owned "is back at our winter house... I think."

Others are intimidated by the thought that they won't understand it if they read it on their own. Still others have been put off by bad experiences with "This Is What It Means and If You Don't Believe It The Right Way You're Going to Hell" hard-line interpreters.

So we are in the process of doing something about it. We are reading the Bible together-- all of it-- using the Bible in 90 Days format that some of the RevGals found so successful last year. It's a good approach. Not selective "pick-and-choose" prooftexting; instead, a page-by-page exposure to the whole canon. Not in-depth; that can come later. Not providing answers, but talking about the questions together.

We've just finished the first week. A good number of people signed up-- almost a quarter of my regular congregants, across the four churches-- and generally the participants have thus far been enjoying the challenge. A few have gotten behind, but are gamely working to catch up; others have surprised at themselves by getting caught up in the reading, and actually have read ahead. Our discussions have been both illuminating and entertaining.

Yes, there are 13 more weeks to go; but we're off to a good start. As my former bishop once told our diocesan convention, "We Anglicans have no business leaving the knowledge of scripture to the Baptists, or other such traditions. With all due respect... we saw it first."


Blogger Young fogey emeritus said...

90 days? Brilliant! Even without the deuteros/Apocrypha that's a good education.

The quotation from the bishop is a Catholic standard.

January 20, 2007 10:44 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

You saw it first?! LOL! Oy veh. What am I to do?

January 20, 2007 6:59 PM  

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