To My Bible Reading Partners
January 2010 Pastor's Monthly Newsletter Article
"On a New Year, and New Year’s Resolutions"
Who would have imagined that during the Fall of 2009, more than fifty members of Saint Peter Lutheran Church (a congregation numbering about 275 adults) would read the entire Bible, cover-to-cover? But we did it: beginning on September 13th, and continuing through the middle of December, we traveled together through the pages of this sacred text. Friends: I congratulate you for your persistence, and for your desire to allow God’s word to play a larger role in your life and in your faith.
It was a remarkable journey in many ways. Reflecting on the experience, some were pleased to have set a high goal and to have met it. Some described new insights into their God and their faith. Some cited the ability to read the New Testament (especially the Gospels) with deeper insight. Some expressed a fondness for books in the Bible that they previously knew little about, or perhaps didn’t even know existed. Some even came to feel closer to God, and more engaged with their faith, through this reading.
To those of you who have now read all the way through the Bible: you have carved out some new patterns in your lives. You have discovered that you can find 40-60 minutes a day to spend time with God and nurture your faith. It will be easy to slip quickly into old habits, but I encourage you to resist that. Many of you described this effort as a very rich experience. It might be that this could also be, for you, a new beginning. As we embark on a new year, how will you resolve to continue making time in the rhythm of your days for God’s word?
To those of you who have not yet done this: I hope the sight of a few dozen people carrying their Bibles around in lime green bags caught your attention. I hope a 14 week sermon series on the Bible caused you to be intrigued about what is actually in that holy book. There is a strong sense that we should do this again as a congregation. Will you be among those who join us for a future attempt to read the Bible in 90 days?
The structure for this reading project came from outside our Lutheran community – but it proved to be a particularly good fit for us Lutherans. At the heart of the reforming movement that began with Martin Luther and his colleagues in the 16th Century, was a belief in the power of God’s word. They taught, and we believe, that when faithful people make the effort to study and reflect on God’s word, the Holy Spirit can enlighten us in powerful ways about what it means to be a child of God.
A key verse for the creators of this reading project is 2nd Timothy 3:16-17 – “All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for every good work.” I am also fond of St. John 20: 30-31 – “Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.”
The Bible commends itself to us. May we each give it a larger role in our lives. Good reading to you all. And know that God will bless you.
God’s peace to you all,
David J. Risendal, Pastor