A friend of mine recently glanced at my daytimer, and noting an evening entry. “WOW it looks like you’ve got a rough meeting coming up this week!” he said – there were many giggles as I detailed that my mark “BS” meant Bible Study – and the 2-letter code following it was not a person’s initials, but the community where that Bible Study would take place.
Bible Study is a regular part of my life. Not always in a scholarly way; but in ways that have meaning for the folks I’ve gathered with. The studies at the care homes I visit tend to focus on that week’s scriptures. The parish-based groups gather and we work our way through various books in the bible, discussing not just the context and message in the pages in front of us, but also how we apply it to our daily lives. Some nights were lucky to get through 3 verses, so rich is the conversation!
I also chat on a monthly basis with a group of clergy about what passages have had meaning for us. Another group of churchy folks gathers as a book club, reflecting theologically on some novel we’ve enjoyed (or not enjoyed). This month I’ve been enjoying a FaceBook Bible Study “Rock The Bible”, with guest presenters offering a daily conversation starter, or fitting art and music, and group members making comments. (With nearly 1800 members we’ve had some lively conversations!)
In the past, I’ve taken part in historical studies looking at the who and why and how of Anglicanism or wider Christianity; and programmes that encourage thematic discussion and study; and book studies that encourage spiritual growth and development.
Additionally, I pray the daily office, which includes scripture readings. I have my handy commentaries nearby so I can try to best understand what is being said. I read different translations of the same passage if I’m struggling to comprehend.
Some of the bible studies are formal and follow a prescribed format; others are very casual and conversations can veer quite a bit. Some studies are rich in insights, others seem to fall flat. Some groups gathering are large, some are small. But they’re all worthwhile. Because reading the scriptures opens our eyes to much. As the psalmist says, “The unfolding of your words gives light/ it imparts understanding to the simple.” (Ps 119.130) We benefit from this light and understanding, as we are all desiring to better connect with the mystery of God, we are all aware that cultural references can skew our ‘biblical literacy.’ Bible study also reminds us that God remains active in our lives – the good days and the bad – and allows us to see that we are not the first to have questions/doubts/struggles with our faith. We’re told that “the word of God is living and active” (Hebrews 4.12a) and as such we should be embracing it rather than ignoring it.
Whatever our motivation, we are invited to study the scriptures. They can be exciting and intriguing, helpful and comforting, insightful and extremely relevant, time well spent: not a BS meeting.
What is your favourite method of Bible Study? What studies have meant the most to you?