Here is an obvious statement: for Christians, the Bible is important.
That thought has recurred for me several times in recent weeks. I thought of it last Wednesday at our Tri-College worship service in which the preacher convincingly inhabited a single Bible text in a compelling homiletical fashion. I think about it every time we pray Morning or Evening Prayer as a community. These services are saturated in Biblical texts, both in the lectionary readings but also in the words of invitation, canticles, and turns of phrase in suffrages, collects, and elsewhere. I thought about when our Ministry Seminar discussed research from the American organization Renewal Works that concluded one of the clearest methods to congregational vitality was “engagement with Scripture.”
For all the obviousness of the statement that the Bible is important for Christians, it is not always obvious that the Bible takes on the central role we want it to in our churches. At various points in recent weeks, I’ve had conversations with some of you that point this out, that lament sermons you’ve heard that talk about anything but the Scriptural passage, that point out the worrying lack of participation in Bible study groups, that raise concern about the deficit in Biblical knowledge in the church.
In the last several weeks, I have been preparing to teach a new online course from the college about the Gospel of Luke. It is a course that emerges directly from the conviction that the Bible is important and that people in churches need new resources to help them engage with the text. The strong registration for this course so far is, I think, an indication that many people in the church recognize this need as well. As I have sat with my Bible, my commentaries, my Gospel parallel, and my concordance in preparation for this course, I have been so overwhelmed by what an incredible gift the Bible is to us. The Bible broadens my mind and directs my focus. It teaches and it explains. Yes, sometimes it confounds and confuses. But constantly, above all, it invites me into deeper relationship with Christ.
Wherever you are this week and whatever you find yourself doing, I hope that you will pause as you encounter the Bible and hear afresh the invitation that issues from it every time we open it.
This reflection was written by College Principal Jesse Zink for this week’s Wingèd Ox, a community news digest named for our patron, St. Luke, and published weekly during the term on Monday (or Tuesday when Monday is holiday).