Strategies for Listening
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.
Psalm 119.105 (NRSV)
Engagement with the Bible enriches the life of faith and listening to sermons. This page offers some thoughts on engaging the Bible in faith both individually and communally. The Bible & Lectionary page offers additional information.
Listening to the Bible Personally
You are encouraged to read ahead. Throughout the week read and think about and pray the texts that will be read and preached on during worship on the coming Sunday. If you're parish follows the Revised Common Lectionary, you will find those readings here. If your parish follows another pattern for reading the Bible, you may find access to those on the Other Resources page.
Listening to the Bible in Community
It is important that Christians read and study the Bible with one another. People who participate in Bible studies, in particular studies of the lessons for the coming Sunday, experience a deepening of relationships - with God, with God's word, and with one another. If you have such a weekly study in your parish, great! Take advantage of it. If your parish does not have such a study, consider starting one in conversation with your pastor/priest. Encourage your pastor/priest that such a weekly bible study gathering will enrich her/his preaching and the congregation's listening.
Bible Study Listening Strategy
Many find the idea of "bible study" intimidating often feeling that they don't have enough knowledge to dig into bible. Instead, God's inviting word draws us in without demanding prior understanding or technical knowledge. One doesn't need to be an expert to be a faithful reader. Here is a simple plan (one, I'm sure, among many possibilities) for shaping such a study. You can use these steps for personal or group study. Such a study is about being engaged by God's word together - about opening our individual lives and our life together as Christians to the "lamp" of God's word.
Reading & Hearing
It is important to begin by reading the text. While not necessary, it is beneficial for someone to read the text aloud so that it can be both seen and heard. Note that the readings for Revised Common Lectionary can be found here. Other reading patterns can be accessed through the Other Resources page.
Questions for Conversation
What follows is a list of questions that can help you begin to digest the text. It is not an exhaustive list but a place to start.
What caught your attention in the reading?
What did you find interesting, odd, comforting, puzzling, disturbing, enlightening?
What in the text challenges you?
What did you hear the text communicate about who God is? About what God does?
How did you hear the text touch your life?
How did you hear the text touch the life of the world?
You are encouraged to continue "to walk with the text." That is, bring the text with you as you go about your daily life and work. Continue to ponder, puzzle over, and pray God's word throughout the week.
When the study meets again the following week, it is good fun to reflect upon what you heard in the sermon in relation to what was talked about the previous week and what insights that you had as you "walked with the text."
May your listening to sermons be enriched by your reading of and listening to God's written word. As it says in Colossians:
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and and as you sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs with thankfulness in your hearts to God.
Colossians 3.16 (RSV)
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