Ephesians – Write on Me!

We will be studying by manuscript method the book of Ephesians in the Sunday Evening Study.  The Manuscript method means that the text will be printed out on plain paper (I have left the chapter and verse marks in and the paragraphs of the ESV).  We will read, take notes, mark repetitions, themes, patterns and look up words as we look carefully at the text.  We will hold off on commentaries and pre digested discussions so we can look for ourselves, at least for a while.

Attached  is a worksheet involving outlines from 3 popular level commentaries.  click – Outlines

A Shift in Plans

So I have already revised the preaching plan for September to Advent.  The topic of Christ as Prophet, Priest, King and Sage is so interesting that I will take it for the first 3 months.  From Robert Sherman’s book, King, Priest and Prophet, for example, the notion that the three temptations of Christ correspond to the three offices.  I’d tell you more, but it feels like a sermon, so you will have to wait.

Scripture reading in church – sometimes it seems like a space filler – though it is one of the things included on the biblical agenda for gathered worship.  On vacation, the reading of Matthew 7:1-5 following closely after a vivid discussion a few days before on same-sex marriage, left me with a reminder about checking my attitudes before examining another’s faults.

“Judge not, that you be not judged. 2 For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. 3 Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.

So having put the study, preach and blog into park for 2 weeks, we are just now getting into about 2nd gear.

Public Reading

“Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of scripture, to preaching and to teaching.”  I Timothy 4:13

In the 1st Century books were expensive.  The bible was owned by the community of believers.  Worship typically included regular reading of the scriptures, often according to a “lectionary” or reading plan.

This continues in churches who incorporate the lectionary in the worship service – usually these are more formal congregations.

Many of us have come to think of the bible as a personally owned book to be read privately.  That is good. However it is also good to be where the book is read to the community.

First, because much of the Bible is written in a fashion that communicates well by clear reading out loud.  (Much like how we were entertained around the camp fire recently with an out loud reading of Pride and Prejudice.)  Books such as Psalms, which were sung, and Job which is poetic, as well as the histories which are narrative, all are served with a good reading well done.

Second, because we learn in community.  When we all hear the text, we can all talk about it.  Just as when everyone sees the latest episode of a TV show, we can talk about what has happened.  Consider the great public reading of the book in Nehemiah 8.

Third, because this may be the only exposure to the word for those who can not, do not, or will not read on their own.

Fourth, it gives the text of scripture primacy against the star in the pulpit, at the podium, with the mike or on the screen.

Fifth, it gives an important work to “lay readers”, who more than the rest will concentrate on what they will read in order to read it well.


coffee shops and biblical study

For the past sermon series in the Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23), the best time I spent was at the neighborhood coffee shop with my printed text of Galatians five, a yellow pad and my colored pencils.  This was because

  1. I was not distracted by office buzz and clutter
  2. Coffee shops are strangely stimulating bc of the coffee and the buzz of people.
  3. Context is important, and reading the short passage in its natural habitat gives a more natural reading.

Incognito – “Armadebtdon 2011”

From the John Stewart show, in response to the Debt Ceiling debate of 2011, we have this word.   A little comedic play on words regarding the conflict in our nations capital.  This has been a feast of metaphors from the biblical to the absurd – Maureen Dowd calling it the Washington Chainsaw Massacre and invoking the spectre of knife wielding zombies (her political opponents) in the halls of power.

“Armadebtdon” is a biblical reference to the future cosmic battle at the end of the world to happen at Armageddon.  See Revelation 16:16

Vacation Approaches

My vacation, as in vacating my usual activities, approaches.  Expect infrequency from this blog until the end of August.  However, since ministry does not always allow for the reading I’d like to do, I may post some things on reading.

I’ve also decided to post sermon-based small group worksheets for Bethany folk to use starting in September.

This is a stay-cation: a wedding, helping a kid move, returning kids to college, and other in-state fun.