Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The B-I-B-L-E

"The B-I-B-L-E, yes, that's the book for me..."

Somewhere back there I learned this song.  I doubt it was in the Episcopal Church.  There we were more likely to sing a song of the saints of God and to learn the four colors of the Church Year than the four Gospels.  So I probably heard it before my family became Episcopalians, or in a venture to another congregation for VBS or something like that.

Nonetheless, the Bible did function in very important ways in my Episcopalian upbringing.  The Lectern and its Bible were impressive (and now Gospel Books even more so).  The scripture readings were included in the Prayer Book then and it truly can be said that more Bible was (and is) read in Episcopal Churches than in those congregations where the preacher selects a few verses for a sermon.

But perhaps most important was the way biblical phrases, imagery, and narrative were embedded in the prayers and rituals of the Book of Common Prayer.  Scripture passed deep into the heart this way, perhaps more enacted than merely read.  I don't regret it one bit.

But it is a healthy thing when Episcopalians want to read and study the Bible outside of liturgical practice.  And there is a good bit of interest in this these days, more so than in the past.  Whether it is studying the Sunday Readings, or praying the Daily Office, the Bible Challenge (to read the Bible in a year), E-100 (100 key passages), or various kinds of book and study groups -- all of this is healthy and good (more Bible Study links here).  I even find real joy in seeing our cathedral kids learning the books of the Bible or memorizing verses -- they actually line up to do this in our Sunday School!

As so much of Christendom, of Church as we have known it, collapses and dies before us, certainly all of these ways of encountering the Word of God in Holy Scripture will be part of the way forward.  The story will continue as God's People arise in old and new ways in the days ahead.

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