Many of us have read the entirety of Scripture. Once. Maybe. I know that I have, but it has been ages. Since then, I've been delving into my favorite parts, as well as those assigned by classes, by the lectionary, or by devotionals with others.
However, since I began my first call as an ordained minister, I have committed to beginning every workday with prayer and reading 3-4 chapters of Scripture.* Regardless of how busy the day might be, or how early the first appointment might be, I begin each day in conversation with God and God's written word.
One of the many blessings about this practice has been a sort of rediscovery of fantastic scriptural stories. I began in Ezra, and have since read through Nehemiah and Esther. I began with these books because I wanted a biblical perspective about what faith looked like in exile, as well as how to rebuild a community within the promise of God.
But within this books lay an incredible about of detail about Judaism and Christianity. Ezra reveals the origins of Samaritans, as well as the age-old tensions between those people and the Jews. Esther holds the origins of the festival of Purim. Nehemiah gives a theological perspective on the reconstruction of Jerusalem's walls, as well as a historian's look into how the gates were restored.
This process has been fascinating because I have begun to see so many similarities between my own faith community and those within the Bible. Even more so, I have come to see how God's faithfulness reigns, even in the most unexpected places. That is a word we need today.
With this in mind, I encourage you all, and especially those church workers not already in this discipline, to join me on the journey of (re)reading the Scriptures in their entirety. You may want to do this from cover to cover. My process will be much more piecemeal, because I know that I love to read the Prophets, Gospels, and Revelation, but I will also need some of this reading I love to spell my reading of Leviticus. That's just my process. You will need to find your own.
Point being, in my first year as a pastor, I want to read the entire Bible apart from my Sunday sermon preparation. This not only ensures my own personal development as a person and as a pastor, but keeps me engaged with God each day, so that my participation in the days events will flow from the fount of every blessing. I pray that you all might find this time for this kind of devotion as well, and find the abundant life within it.
*Thanks to one of my professors, Robert Wallace, for being the most recent in a long line of mentors to encourage this practice as a grounding facet of vibrant ministry.
An earlier version of this post mistakenly referred to the professor as David Wallace. That mistake has been corrected.
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Simultaneously a sinner and a saint.