As you well know over the last few years I have selected a book to encourage our diocese to read together. This year I have a novel idea, no pun intended. My book selection for the Lent is ….the Bible. As Episcopalians, we hear the Bible, if in church, quite frequently, but putting it in a continuous context, focusing on it more as to story and study, and increasing our biblical literacy, we do not often major in that. This would be my hope in our journey in Lent. I have to say I was inspired by a new project I was invited into, The Center for Biblical Studies, started by the Rev. Merek Zibriskie, Episcopal priest and Rector of St. Thomas’ Episcopal Church, Fort Washington, PA, The basic focus of this Center is described by them as the following:
The Center for Biblical Studies has designed a one-year reading schedule to help those who commit as individuals or as members of a church, a church school or a diocese to read successfully through the entire Bible in a year’s time. The CBS intentionally focuses on reading the entire Bible, reading the books of the Bible in sequence and ensuring that a psalm and a portion of the New Testament are read each day in order to provide strong spiritual daily content to sustain readers working through the entire Bible.
The Center has come up with a schedule which will be available on our diocesan website, but also on their own.
If you want the schedule in hard copy you can either print this or we will be glad to send you one.
I have agreed to serve on the Advisory Board of the Center, along with bishops across the Episcopal Church and around the Anglican Communion. The Diocese of Olympia is also a founding diocese of the Center.
And to make clear I would never ask you to do anything I am not willing to do myself, I actually began my year of reading on January 1st, and have kept up even to today. So, I will be continuing my reading along with you as you read in Lent. The Center has designed a special schedule for our diocese so that we might begin in Lent.
As for our ongoing discussion, another facet of this work each Lent, I am hoping we will use my blog to discuss the discoveries we have as we read the Bible with more intensity than usual.
Now, I know there are those among us who will not really want to do this. Last year I selected a book but also gave some options. I would give one, which for me, was a close second to what is described above, that being the Rev. Dr. Sam Torvend’s book on baptism, entitled, Flowing Water, Uncommon Birth: Christian Baptism in a Post-Christian Culture” This is ready made for a group study and is an excellent book which I can highly recommend.
As for the Bible, I am often asked which “version” to get. The translation is certainly your preference, but I like the NRSV and right now, thanks to James Thibideaux at St. Peter’s, Seattle, I am using the Renovare Spiritual Formation Bible published by Cokesbury. This bible has biographies, added footnotes, and some questions for individual and group consideration. I like it.
So, I hope and pray we will use Lent to begin a discipline of more regular biblical reading and increasing our literacy of the primary book of our faith. I will be joining you and have been blessed by my reading so far.
Blessings to you all!