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the Bible

Begin well

The Bible isn’t a novel. It’s not meant to be read from beginning to end.

If you “start at the very beginning”, it probably isn’t “the very best place to start.”

The Bible does have a plot, a story that develops over thousands of years. But it’s really important to know the end of the story first. Knowing the end puts all the parts in perspective.

There is no bonus for being held in suspense about how the story ends.

Remember from last week: the whole point of the Bible is to lead us to Jesus, who described himself as “the beginning and the end.” As best we can, let’s make our reading begin and end with him.

The end of the Bible is Jesus. The whole story is about him. The beginning, the middle, the end – all about him…so we can know him.

So, to begin well let’s choose one of the four Gospels. I suggest starting with John or Mark.

Start with John to focus on who Jesus is. John had an especially close relationship with him and gives us a unique perspective. John adopted Jesus’ mother Mary into his home – I wonder how much his writing passes along Mary’s reflections.

Start with Mark if you prefer to focus on what Jesus did. They say that Mark’s gospel is likely to reflect Peter’s telling of events; Peter is a “get it done” kind of person.

Which ever one you pick, don’t rush. Give yourself time to pause, question, ponder.

Most importantly, pay attention to what your inner voice might be saying. You are reading to get to know a Person, not to pass a test.

I hope you find this hodgepodge of thoughts helpful. Grace and peace to you…

dw

Categories
prayer the Bible

Resolved to read?

Did anyone out there make a resolution to read the Bible in 2021?

(If you want, you can try out this fancy poll.)

I want to share a few thoughts over the coming weeks about the Bible and the experience of reading it. Not that I’m an expert or anything: I’m not. But maybe my experience could be a help to you.

And yours to me.

So this could be kind of a discussion, if you like. What do you think?

There are two things I want to start with – to me they are really important. The first is where I’m coming from about the purpose of the Bible and of reading it; Jesus says it better than anyone:

“You have your heads in your Bibles constantly because you think you’ll find eternal life there. But you miss the forest for the trees. These Scriptures are all about me! And here I am, standing right before you…

Peterson, Eugene H.. The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language . The Navigators. Kindle Edition. John 5:39-40

There are all kinds of reasons for reading the Bible, but for me this is the one that matters: to bring us to Jesus. That’s what I want to focus on.

The second thing I want to mention today: are you familiar with Mary Oliver’s poem Praying? (If not, you can read it here: Praying – a poem by Mary Oliver – it’s by far the most popular post on this blog.)

What does this have to do with reading the Bible? Everything. Reading the Bible is a way to pray. Come to it from where you are, with what you have and what you lack. Just be yourself. Just come.

Jesus says, “Here I am, right here. Just come on, the way you are, so we can be together.”

Grace and peace to you…

dw

Categories
Current Events Music prayer Prayers

Prayers for Perilous Times

We live in a perilous time, a time we need to pray through so we can act with honesty, courage, and love…after we listen with honesty, humility, and love. Listen to the Spirit within us, in the pages of the Bible, and in those we may or may not agree with. Act by following Jesus on his path toward Golgotha and the Cross, in order to finally arrive in Glory, all together, beyond our differences and unified.

Two prayers come to mind for times such as these. Let’s take the opportunity to consider, to imagine, to lean in, and to appropriate these words for ourselves, our loved ones, and even for those we don’t love so much.

I hope you find them encouraging and uplifting.

Grace and peace to you…

dw


May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you : wherever he may send you;


may he guide you through the wilderness : protect you through the storm;


may he bring you home rejoicing : at the wonders he has shown you;


may he bring you home rejoicing : once again into our doors.

Claiborne, Shane. Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals (p. 50). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

You may be interested in reading a previous post about this prayer here where there are some prompts for reflection.


The second prayer, a hymn attributed to St. Patrick, comes in two parts (with music by yours truly). You can see the original posts here and here.

Stone Irish cross in rural landscape
Image by krystianwin from Pixabay

Part One

I bind unto myself to-day
The strong name of the Trinity,
By invocation of the same.
The Three in One and One in Three.

I bind this day to me for ever,
⁠By power of faith, Christ’s Incarnation;
His baptism in Jordan river;
⁠His death on cross for my salvation;
His bursting from the spiced tomb;
⁠His riding up the heavenly way;
His coming at the day of doom;
⁠I bind unto myself to-day.

I bind unto myself to-day
⁠The power of God to hold and lead,
His eye to watch. His might to stay,
⁠His ear to hearken to my need.
The wisdom of my God to teach,
⁠His hand to guide. His shield to ward;
The Word of God to give me speech,
⁠His heavenly host to be my guard.

Against the demon snares of sin,
⁠The vice that gives temptation force,
The natural lusts that war within,
⁠The hostile men that mar my course;
Or few or many, far or nigh.
⁠In every place, and in all hours,
Against their fierce hostility,
⁠I bind to me these holy powers.

I bind unto myself the Name,
⁠The strong Name of the Trinity;
By invocation of the same,
⁠The Three in One, and One in Three.
Of Whom all nature hath creation;
⁠Eternal Father, Spirit, Word:
Praise to the Lord of my salvation
⁠Salvation is of Christ the Lord.

Part Two

Christ be with me, Christ within me,
⁠Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
⁠Christ to comfort and restore me,

Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
⁠Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
⁠Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.