Over the past several weeks as a congregation we have been working through this question: How do we hear God’s voice in Scripture?
For people who want to take seriously the Bible’s authority for Christian faith and life, it’s no small question. And even a quick glance around the landscape of Christianity today will confirm its importance: whether we’re talking about same-sex relationships or gender roles or atonement theologies, or simply about how to live as Christians in the mundane of daily life, all our conversations seem to come back to this question.
In our sermon series we walked through some of the “big ideas” that connect to this question. Here are some blog posts related to those “big ideas”:
- The Bible as Inspired Scripture
- The Bible as Ancient Literature
- The Bible as Diverse Anthology
- The Bible as Witness to Jesus
- A series of three posts on Reading the Bible, Following Jesus
To sum it all up, this diverse collection of ancient human writings we call the Bible is God’s inspired written witness to Jesus, who is the living Word of God, God’s living Voice. We read Scripture to know Jesus, and in Jesus’ life, teachings, death, and resurrection we see God most fully and clearly—we hear God’s Voice to us.
Here’s the way I worded it in my last sermon:
If we want to know who God is, what God is like, how God works in the world, what God’s will is for us and all creation, we need to look through Scripture to Jesus—and then follow him obediently in faith and hope and love.
But how does this work for reading a particular passage in the Bible? Practically speaking, how do we read the Bible to hear God’s Voice in Jesus?
I’ve put together a brief guide to help with this: Hearing God’s Voice through Scripture. You can use it on your own as you read a passage of Scripture with your coffee in the morning, or you can use it in a small group as you work through a Bible passage together. The guide also offers options for either a more devotional “quick reading” of a Bible passage, or a more “serious study” of the passage appropriate for sermon or teaching preparation.
This guide won’t make you into a biblical scholar, and it’s no magic formula for getting “the right interpretation” (there are no such magic formulas!). But it can help you to learn to read Bible passages carefully, in context, and in connection to Jesus.
And one more resource: the Revised Common Lectionary. Like many churches with Mennonite Church Canada, we generally follow the Bible passages in the lectionary each Sunday. Through this summer you’ll find that most of our sermons are based upon these lectionary texts. Some sermons will draw on more than one of the Bible passages for that Sunday, others will focus in on just one of those texts. I encourage you to read the lectionary texts for each Sunday through the week ahead, even using the guide above, and I can guarantee that you will get more out of the sermon when you come on Sunday morning.
As a congregation may we “commit ourselves to persist and delight in reading, studying, and meditating on the Scriptures,” so that we may together “discern what God is saying in our time” to us, and so follow Jesus more faithfully in faith, hope, and love.*