Well. I've been going to a bible study that meets at the church... not necessarily a bible study really... they gather to read the bible together, out loud, and have snacks.
Yesterday morning, Ezekiel 23 happened to be where we were (they are reading straight through... I think they might have started with Jeremiah)... and holy cow! I have never read that chapter before... and I don't think that any of them had either! The chapter talks about two sisters who are whores... an analogy for the cities of Jerusalem and Samaria... but if you aren't reading with a careful enough eye or a critical enough spirit, you don't quite get that right away. I'm not quite sure how they would have preceeded through that chapter without me! And while I tried really hard this morning to keep quiet... mostly so I could observe what normally happens in this group... this chapter was just too difficult!
One thing that I have learned from this group however... well, from the church members in general... is that I need to learn how to love the Bible. I think there is a book by Peter Gomes - The Good Book - and I'm going to try to read it sometime soon. I realized that when I go to the bible to read it, I'm looking for the themes, I'm looking for the historical connections, I'm looking at it academically and critically, thinking of it most of the time as a message for people a long time ago and hoping that with the Holy Spirit's help that something might apply to my life today. The people I have met in my congregation just love to read the bible. One homebound member actually said that she doesn't really understand the bible, it gets all confusing, she just loves to read the words. She said - all of that figuring the message out - that's not for us lay people. And that mindset really confuses me! There is a sort of simpleness too it and part of me wants to challenge them and teach them to learn from the depths of the text. That kind of simple-minded reading of the bible leads to a lot of proof-texting and quoting verses without paying attention to the context. On the otherhand, this group is so passionate about reading the word of God, whether they understand it or not, that they gather each week to read it aloud to one another.
As I thought about it today, I wonder if a lectio divina method would work well with this group. I think that it might add just a little bit of structure to their reading and allow them to focus on smaller isolate chunks and really absorb them deeply. It would give them a chance to lift up phrases that speak to them and help them to look more closely at what is going on.