Advent Day 4

Advent Day 4:  Scripture

As a pastor, I often hear two complaints about reading the Bible. 

One:  “I tried this daily Bible reading program, but I stopped at _______.”

Two:  “I try reading the Bible, but I have no idea what some of the stuff in there means.”

If either of those statements apply to you, consider yourself free from guilt today.  It is hard to read a bunch of words day after day if you aren’t connecting with them.  It makes you feel even worse if you think you are supposed to have a grand revelation every time you open your Bible.

Try going at it a different way.  The method I’ll outline today is easy on the surface, but can lead you to deeper study if you so choose.  It goes by different names, but “Reporter’s Bible Study” is a good name.  You can read about this and other methods in Prayer and Temperament (see info on my “Resources” page.)

First, choose a passage that is more like a story (poetic or instructional passages don’t work as well with this method.)  Try Genesis, Exodus, Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John.  A great passage for trying this method is John 8:2-11.

Then, after reading the passage, answer the following questions:

  1. Who is in the passage?  Is anyone unnamed or silent?  (In the John passage, the woman doesn’t have a name.)
  2. Where (2a) and when (2b) are the events happening?
  3. What is happening in the passage?
  4. How are the events described in the passage playing out?  How are the events being presented to you, the reader?  For example, this passage in John is very brief, and so many details are unknown.  Another “how” question:  is there an image or word that appears more than once in the passage, and if so, what might that mean?
  5. Why do you think things happened the way they did?  There is no right answer here.

If you choose to dig a little deeper after looking at these five questions, head to a library and look for a Bible dictionary.  In a Bible dictionary, you can look up words like “stone” and read all about the punishment the woman in John 8 was facing (death by stoning.)  You can look this stuff up on Wikipedia or in an online Bible dictionary, but keep in mind that Wikipedia doesn’t always have complete information, and many of the online Bible dictionaries are written by people who want to prove a point.  You’d be better off with the print versions published by Eerdmans or HarperCollins.  And while you’re at it, ask the librarian for more books with background information about the Bible.  (Sometimes the good stuff is a little old-fashioned…)

Today’s daily Scripture readings from the PC(USA):  http://gamc.pcusa.org/devotion/daily/2010/12/1/

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