This week, our church will finish our summer 90-Day Bible Reading Challenge. At the beginning of the summer, I wanted to find something we could do as a community. I was also aware the Bible was being used as a prop and as a symbol for certain political opinions. I figured if Hickory Neck is helping form faithful disciples who can participate fully in civic life, we should know what is in the Bible – all of it! And so, we began a reading journey.
The days and nights were long. Twelve pages a day does not sound like much, but for anyone who got behind (or who like me, is still behind), we learned that twelve daily pages of biblical text was no simple feat. We journeyed through fun, familiar stories, we drudged through laws and genealogies, we read stories that were repeated in other books. We asked questions, we struggled with cultural differences, and we found some surprises. We realized the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) comprises two-thirds of the Bible. We fell in love with new books, laughed, and found modern parallels to life today.
This summer, I realized the gift of the 90-Day Bible Challenge was not just a reading journey – it was a journey into deeper relationship with God. The Challenge did not allow us to dive deeply into our questions, particular stories, or even cultural issues. Instead, the Challenge reminded us of who God is – a loving, forgiving, graceful God, whose commitment to covenantal relationship with God’s people is of utmost importance – even when we fail to be faithful over and over and over again. In fact, watching the people God fail so many times helps us understand the tremendous depth of God’s love for us. And seeing that overarching covenantal relationship from God’s perspective inspires in us a desire to reflect that abundant, forgiving, graceful love out in the world.
Thank you, Hickory Neck, for reminding me why the Bible is not a book that is to collect dust on the shelf or to only be consumed in small pieces during Sunday services, but a collection of books that speaks powerfully to this time – in ways that cannot be coopted by political agendas of the day, but whose witness of love does have powerful political consequences. I am grateful for the reading journey that became a journey into deeper relationship with God and with neighbor.