Bible & Lectionary
Strategies for Listening
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.
Psalm 119.105 (NRSV)
The Bible is God's written word that testifies to the Living Word, Jesus Christ. God encounters the world by way of the Bible. Though the Bible is a collection of different stories, poems, laws, letters, and visions, as a whole it is the story of God's relationship with the world from the creation of the cosmos through the fullness of time.
The Bible is central to the life of the Christian community and to the life of faith of the individual Christian. At the heart of Christian worship is the communal reading of the Bible - listening together to God's written word and hearing preaching formed and informed by the Bible. The reading and study of Scripture by all Christians enriches the preaching and hearing of the Word.
The writer of Psalm 119 hits the nail on the head. God's written word is a light to our path. This truth becomes more and more evident to the Christian the more she/he is drawn into the pages of the Bible. Being open to the risk of wrestling with God's word, the Christian is encountered by God - an encounter which can be comforting and discomforting, clarifying and confusing. This encounter enriches one's relationship with God, with the Christian community of faith, and with the world.
Frequently in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and other Protestant denominations in North America, the Revised Common Lectionary is used as a guide for the Church's reading of Scripture. For a brief introduction to the lectionary, click here. In preparation for worship, Christians are encouraged to read, pray, and study the texts for the coming Sunday. If your church follows the Revised Common Lectionary, you can find the readings for this coming week here. You can also find a list of additional resources for the reading and study of the Bible here. The study of the Bible deepens understanding and enriches the life of faith.
Like many other world religions, Christianity understands the Bible to be scripture - a text that reveals who God is in relation to the cosmos. It is important for us Christians to remember that the Bible does not belong to any one Christian tradition. It is incorrect also to say that the Bible belongs to the church. Rather, the Bible is God's, and it is God's gift to the whole world.
While the books included in the Bible vary some between different Christian traditions, the heart of the Bible is the Old and New Testaments, which together are God's written word. A unique and rich aspect of the Christian Bible is that Christianity and Judaism share the first Testament, what Jews call Torah or Tanakh and Christians call the Old Testament. Judaism interprets Torah in light of Talmud. Christians interpret the Old Testament in light of Jesus Christ.
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