The Bible Challenge — Weeks 1 and 2

12 Apr

Blogging is a growth area for me… actually, to be honest I find most practices difficult that require vigilance and disciple… which is one reason why I think the Bible Challenge experience will be immensely beneficial… I am so glad that you all have engaged this challenge with me.

I do plan to blog regularly as we read, and I invite your comments… I hope this blog space can be a place of discussion and debate, in addition to other “face-to-face” opportunities throughout the year.

I am up-to-date with the reading schedule, but I have not yet posted to the blog until now… and the days have gone by… and so much has happened!!!  In the interest of time, and in the spirit of the non-anxious, guilt-free experience that I hope we will all have, I will only write a bit about the past couple of weeks… and start fresh with a plan for daily posts.  There is always hope.

We have already covered much ground in the book of Genesis, Matthew’s gospel account…  God created everything from nothing, in 6 days, and then God blessed the 7th — God’s first act of blessing.  We’ve been introduced to Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Rebecca, Laban, Jacob, Rachel, Leah, and the sons of Jacob… so much good stuff there to talk about: the two different Creation accounts; Adam and Eve and the Garden (and the Serpent!); the rise and fall of Noah; Abraham and Sarah, unlikely leaders at their ripe old age; Abraham passes his wife off as his sister not just once, but twice!; of course, the near sacrifice of Isaac is compelling; Isaac and Rebecca give birth to twins, and Jacob is a trickster!; Jacob’s wives and their handmaids have many children, an unconventional family! (Interesting in light of the current debate about “traditional” marriage).

Some of us might struggle with some of the Old Testament theology… with a God who would blot out all humankind with a flood, who would ask Abraham to sacrifice his son (his only son), who would favor one people and destroy another.  We might struggle with the anthropomorphic image of God, of a God with whom we can negotiate, talk to as we might talk to one another.  I think it is important as we read scripture, both Old and New Testaments, that we read with an open mind, and understand that although these writings were written in a very different context than our own.  It is OK to read scripture as a metaphor.  There are many valid and appropriate interpretations possible.  Read scripture in community, and ask questions, and share your reflections.  That way when difficult passages come up that trigger a strong emotional response we are in good company to debate, disagree, and discuss…

In Matthew’s account Jesus is born to Mary, in what would seem to be a scandalous situation… we meet the evil Herod, the Wise Men… then we skip ahead to when Jesus finds John the Baptist and is baptized in the Jordan… and soon after he gathers his disciples, who seem to follow quickly and eagerly, we witness his first major teaching moment on mountain, the famous “Sermon on the Mount” which sums up much of what Jesus is all about… we bear witness to his first healing miracles, and his interactions with the Jewish authorities.  We come to know Jesus, right of the bat, as one who serves the poor and destitute, sick and hungry… those on the fringes including tax collectors and prostitutes.

I have appreciated the psalms as prayer partners… one a day is a good reminder that we are not alone in our mixed emotions about God… the psalms are wonderful examples where all at once the psalmist cries out against God, wonders where the heck God is, rejoices in the many blessings that God has bestowed up them, and reaffirms their faith in God’s promise and power.  Very emotionally complex, and spiritually rich.

I will post more in depth about the readings for  4/13/2013 in a little bit… please comment!  Share your own thoughts — both about the scripture and about how you would like to interact with me and one another as we read… is the blog helpful?  would you like to have meetings on weeknights?  on Sundays after church?  Let me know.

Blessings to you all,

Colin+

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