Reading the Bible in 90 Days
From January to March I participated in The Bible in 90 Days, a Sunday school elective at BCMC. The purpose of the class– as the title says – was simply to read through the whole Bible in 90 days, from Genesis to Revelation. This meant reading about 15 chapters – approximately 45 minutes – daily. Some people listened to recordings of the readings. Each Sunday we would also gather to share insights and questions about what we had read, and watch a video presentation with more explanation. On the final Sunday, we celebrated the completion of our journey through scripture by sharing in a potluck lunch. Everyone who had participated in some way was invited to the potluck – even those of us who were behind and still reading somewhere in the Epistles, or those who had “fallen off the wagon” (as one person said) after the Old Testament! This was, after all, a Biblical banquet, intended to celebrate God’s good news for all! This experience of reading through the whole Bible in a short time was a great way to review the “big picture” of scripture and the themes of God’s story: God’s creation of the world and calling of a covenant people; God’s persistent and passionate desire to restore this relationship when people are unfaithful; God’s Word made flesh in Jesus whose life, death and resurrection embody shalom in a new way; God’s gift of the Holy Spirit who breathes life into the church; and God’s promise of a new creation in the fulfillment of time. This “big picture” perspective is an essential framework for interpreting scripture, guarding against “proof-texting” and taking individual texts out of context. A full reading of the Bible also raises difficult questions: What do we make of contradictions within scripture? What about all the violence in the Bible? What is the significance of scripture for our lives today? Hopefully, such questions are reason to return to the Bible for further study, to explore it more closely. For me, Reading the Bible in 90 Days was like flying in an airplane and seeing the vast contours of landscape below – mountains, valleys, rivers, fields, roads and cities. Now I am eager to get down on the ground again and explore features of this landscape more closely: To struggle step-by-step up the steep inclines of difficult passages, to soak in the waters of poetry and songs of scripture, to trudge through the valleys of suffering and lament in scripture, to walk the paths of Jesus’ travels and teachings, to be astounded at the mountaintop visions of scripture – and along the way, take time to pay attention to detail, and ponder how this relates to the landscape of life in today’s world. I invite you to join me on the journey of reading the Bible – whether it takes 90 days, or 90 years!