“The Second Vatican Council urged priests and lay people to study the Bible.” –back cover of this week’s Spirit
When I taught high school religion, it was always a struggle to get my students to read the Bible. When I assigned Bible reading for homework, they would sigh and tell me how boring the Bible is, and how hard it is to understand. Reading the Bible can be boring, and it can be frustrating. The Second Vatican Council didn’t urge people to read the Bible, they urged us to study it. More often then not, when I taught my students how to study the Bible, it opened up a more fascinating and accessible world of stories.
We believe that God reveals Godself to us, in part, through the Bible. But it cannot sit on a shelf. Revelation is an interaction between us, the biblical writers, and the Holy Spirit. I think we need to work a bit for that revelation. The people who chose to write down the Bible stories came from a very different time and place. They were writing in another language. Things like language translation, history and genre help bring the stories to life in our context today, a context the writers knew nothing about. Reading the Bible is really an interaction between two different worlds. The more we know about the world in which it was written, the more we can know what the stories might mean for our world today.
The Bible is powerful. Harm and good have happened in its name. I don’t think it should be taken lightly, or read flippantly. It is meant to be studied. When we study the Bible together in community, really open to learn more about God’s relationship to God’s people, there is revelation. It is good work.
Every Christmas we read the same passages from the Bible, opening ourselves to what it means for us, right now, that Jesus came to reveal God to us. This Advent, I am thankful for the Spirit community, a place where I come to study the Bible in hopes of knowing God a little more every day.
Photo courtesy of Roger Smith via Creative Commons License