Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Reading the Bible in a Year

This is an announcement recently shared with the members of Saint Matthew Lutheran Church in Logan, Ohio. If you'd like to join us in reading the Bible in a year, I'll be putting the reading list on the blog as well.
THIS COULD CHANGE YOUR LIFE FOREVER! Beginning on Wednesday, March 9, every member of Saint Matthew is invited to join in on the journey of READING THE BIBLE IN ONE YEAR. Starting with Genesis 1 (on Ash Wednesday) and ending with Revelation 22 one year later, you’ll have the support and encouragement of the entire Saint Matthew family as you follow through on that resolution you’ve found so difficult to keep in the past. You’ll be acquiring a more intimate relationship with the God made known to all the world in Jesus Christ.

Here’s how it will work:

(1)    On Sunday, March 6, you’ll receive a list of the complete daily readings as we read the Bible in one year together. The entire Bible can be read all the way through by reading an average of three to four chapters per day. (Note from Pastor: My great-grandmother used this method to read the Bible completely through nine different times in her life.)

(2)    If there are days when you can’t get to the three or four chapters of the Bible to be read then, don’t worry. Just pick up the next day and keep on truckin’. Remember that the idea behind this isn’t to face a grim daily appointment, but to get to know the God Who loves you better, through His Word.

(3)    Along the way, usually on Sunday mornings, you’ll also receive brief overviews of each of the Bible’s 66 books to help you better understand what you’re reading.

(4)    On Wednesdays throughout the year, the pastor will offer two different weekly opportunities to gather with him and discuss any issues or questions you’ve encountered in the readings for the preceding week. One weekly session will happen on Wednesday mornings at 11AM; the other will happen on Wednesday evenings at 7PM. If you want to go to the morning session one day and the evening session the next, that’s fine; whatever works with your schedule is great. If you can’t make it every Wednesday, that’s great too. The idea is to keep reading to keep getting to know the God better, in the same day-to-day you build any relationship.

(5)    Don’t be intimidated. Nobody knows the Bible thoroughly. Everybody has questions about the Bible. Reading the Bible together is a way we all learn and grow in our faith together.

Just a few additional notes: We will have our usual Ash Wednesday service on March 9. But we won’t have our usual midweek Lenten or Advent services over the coming year. Our Wednesdays will be focused on discussing what we’ve read in the Bible.

Some will wonder what translation of the Bible to read. The answer is that you should read the one with which you are most comfortable. The translation in the Celebrate inserts that we use on Sunday mornings is the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV). It’s accurate and accessible while retaining the majesty of some of the older translations. Our pew Bibles are the New King James Version (NKJV), which is also very good.

Other really fine, accessible translations include The New International Version (TNIV), very similar to the NRSV; The Message, a beautiful modern rendering written by Old Testament scholar, longtime pastor, and poet Eugene Peterson; or The Good News Bible, also known as Today’s English Version (TEV), pitched to a sixth grade reading level. Yet another one, which you can often find at Half Price Books, is The Bible for All People, also known as the Contemporary English Version (CEV).

It’s advisable to have a Bible that includes maps, topical indexes in the back, and overviews at the beginnings of each Biblical book. The gold standard of such editions of the Bible is The New Oxford Annotated Bible, but it tends to be a bit pricey. The Life Application Bible is excellent, as is the outstanding Study Bible, co-edited by the Christian writer and journalist Philip Yancey.

If you would like help in selecting a new Bible for this venture, just let Pastor Mark know. He will be happy to help you.

As we prepare for this venture, please pray that God will use it to strengthen our faith in Christ and our witness for Him in our daily lives.

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