Pick My Brain – Read the Story

     by Marlene Bogard, Minister of Christian Formation (with content from Mike Bogard, from his article in Hope Headlines, October, 2013)

I have some very good news!  Many, many of our Western District Conference congregations are planning their worship services around Hearing the Story – the “big” story of the scriptures as pastors plan to preach through the Bible.  Listen, engage, discuss.  But…will you read? 

Michael Novelli, who presented Bible Storying to representatives from 14 of our churches on September 15 and author of Shaped by the Story and Enter the Story, encourages seeing the Bible as story and allowing that story to form us into the Christians God wishes us to become.  Although his method focuses on telling and hearing the story, his hope is that this method will motivate us to go back and read the story.

His research indicates that:

58 percent of the U.S. adult population never reads another book after high school.

42 percent of college graduates never read another book.

80 percent of graduating high school seniors say they’ll never again voluntarily read a book. (Shaped by the Story, p.43)

I would like to encourage you to consider reading the story again or for the first time.  In September, I began reading the entire Bible chronologically, using an app on my smart phone.  It has been 35 years (my confession) since I have read the bible entirely.  This reading journey is designed to be a one year experience and I am a little behind; but that’s okay.  There is nothing magical or legalistic about the time frame; it is just a goal.  As many of you know, reading the Bible completely can be a very transformational experience.

There are many designs for reading the Bible.  The Year of the Bible website can direct you to a number of options. Go to http://www.yearofthebiblenetwork.org/adult1.html and scroll down to Bible Reading Plans and start clicking the links.  With many of these plans you can read the Bible online on your computer or phone or tablet by clicking the links within the program.  You can also use the plans as a guide to read one of the several copies of the Bible you may have in your home.  If you click “The Bible App!” link you will find a downloadable version for your phone or tablet and a vast number of reading plans for all ages including some brief plans for children and youth around themes.

If you want a hard copy Bible reading plan, Mennonite Church USA offers guides for children, middlers, youth, and adults at http://store.mennomedia.org/Bible-Reading-Records-C1364.aspx for less than a dollar.  Bible reading plans can be for the whole Bible, or just one of the Testaments, or the Psalms, or just the Gospel of Matthew, or some other section of the Bible that interests you. 

One aspect of our Mennonite inheritance is the central role that the Bible played in the formation of our Anabaptist/Mennonite understanding of Christian faith and life.  The early Anabaptists voraciously read the Bible both personally and in small groups.  They memorized Scripture and used it generously in defending their understanding of Christian faith, especially after arrest and in the face of torture and death as recorded in the Martyrs Mirror.  Even if reading hasn’t been a part of your life, consider, at least during this Year of the Bible, a new immersion in the book that informs and shapes our Christian faith.  You probably won’t be arrested, but you just might be transformed!