Let’s face it. Episcopalians have feelings of inadequacy when it comes to the Bible. We hear more scripture on Sunday mornings than almost any other denomination. But let a Baptist friend of ours start talking about the Bible, and we get squirrely, saying things like, “I’m an Episcopalian; we don’t know much about all that.” If I never heard that statement again in my life, I would die a happy man!
As I say to Inquirers' classes, we Episcopalians don’t take the Bible literally, we take it seriously. We take it seriously because it is the principal source of our knowledge about who God is, who we are, and what our purpose is in this God-given life. We take the Bible seriously because in its stories, we find our story. Our Muslim brothers and sisters call Christians and Jews “People of the Book.” That’s exactly right. Like all people, our identity comes from the stories we tell. Christians are those who tell the stories of the Old and New Testaments and let those stories reorient their lives.
In 2011, a fellow with a funny name tried out a simple idea. The Rev. Marek Zabriskie serves an Episcopal church in the Philadelphia suburbs, and as a New Year’s resolution he decided to read the Bible cover to cover in a year. On a lark, he invited his congregation to join him. Before he knew it, more than half of his church and another 90 of their friends had joined in. And what he found was profound renewal for himself and for his people as they read Bible stories not usually heard in church and other stories that were familiar, but that they had never read in context, as a part of a whole.
In the years since, Marek has been an advocate for similar programs across the Episcopal Church. The way it works is simple. All of us read the same parts of the Bible at the same time – about five chapters a day, six days per week. We each take personal responsibility for our growth as Christians. Then, the church builds programming to support us as we do that work. At Nativity, that means adult Sunday School is a place to get oriented to what we're reading and ask questions. It means we’re encouraging small groups to nurture relationships and to encourage each other on in the marathon. It means we've dreamed up a monthly trivia night to compete among friends and test our newly gained knowledge! For more information on these and other offerings, check out our website.
Whether you think you’re up for the challenge or not, I hope you’ll make plans to join as a church family on Sunday, August 12 at 9:30 for the launch. This is chance to hear more; ask questions; join a small group; and, crucially, vote on who we want to be our first trivia night’s Master of Ceremonies! The marathon begins Monday morning!
Let’s say it plainly. If we feel embarrassed or unfamiliar with this, our own story, there is literally only one way to address those feelings: pick it up and read! This is our chance to do it with all the love, support, and encouragement we’ve come to expect from this wonderful church family. Let’s do it!
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