- Reformation Bible Reading Challenge
One of the most important changes Martin Luther initiated was the translation of the Bible into the language of the people. His actions moved the Holy Scripture from the elite to common person.
Luther put the Scripture in our hands and it is our duty and our joy to read it. This Lenten season, to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, we are calling on you to add something for Lent and for the rest of this year. Our challenge as a congregation is to read 200,000 chapters of the Bible before the end of the year. While that number may sound daunting, it is an attainable goal. Let’s look at the math. The Bible contains 1,189 chapters. If one was going to read 200,000 chapters by the end of the year by themselves they would need to read the Bible cover to cover over 167 times. This is not a task for one person; it is a task for many. If each of the approximately 650 members and friends of Zion read a chapter of the Bible every day from March 1st until December 31st we will have read 198,900 chapters of the Bible. By including all of those who attend Zion in this challenge we should be able to attain our goal. Each week we will ask people to mark the number of chapters they have read that week on the tally sheet located next to the men’s restroom in the fellowship hall. You may also email the office with your count or call in your number. We will compute the results and keep the congregation informed with numbers published in the bulletin.
The rules are simple.
• If you are in a Bible study and you cover 2 chapters in that session, each member is considered to have read 2 chapters. If there are 12 people at the Bible study this would count as 24 chapters.
• If you have the Bible app on your phone and listen to the Bible, this counts as reading. The New Testament is available in our Library on cassette tapes.
• If an adult reads a Bible story to children, each story would be considered a chapter. The number of chapters would equal the number of stories read multiplied by the number of children hearing the story.
• If you choose to read and reread your favorite books, rereads count just like an initial read.
• If you read all of the Scripture lessons for a day, we will consider that a chapter.
• If you’re not sure if your reading counts, ask El J, Lynn or Pastor Jim.
Several years ago El J made a new year’s resolution to read his Bible every single day. Here is his story: “I started with the New Testament. I read first thing every morning before the rush and business of life gets in the way. Sometimes I miss a day. When I do I don’t feel guilty. We are Lutheran and understand GRACE. I read because I want to not because I have to.”
If you come to a chapter of “begats” and find it boring skip to the next chapter – just don’t count the chapter you skipped. There may not be a lot of extra time in your day; so get creative with your Bible reading. Listen to the Bible while you wash dishes or drive to work. While you are mowing the lawn listen to the Bible on head phones. Instead of starting that new book of poetry read the poetry of the Psalms. Don’t stress over the newspaper by reading stories that raise your blood pressure - find the peace that comes from reading the Gospels. It takes about 21 days to establish a habit. If you start reading on March 1st it should be a habit by the end of the month. If you want to read the entire Bible in a year’s time, we have resources to help you with that.
So, there is our Reformation Bible Reading Challenge. El J will talk about it in Church and will answer any question you may have. Our goal is Martin Luther’s goal. We want to put the Bible in the hands of the people. It starts with Lent but we want you make reading your Bible a habit for life.
On the reserve side are some resources for you.
Reformation Bible Reading Challenge Resources
There are as many ways to read the Bible as there are people. Here are a few resources we have found helpful:
1. Find a topic that interests you and read about it. The office has plans that cover:
a. Major Biblical Events
b. Ministry of Jesus
c. Miracles of Jesus
d. Parables of Jesus
e. Teachings of Jesus
f. Jesus’ Last Week
g. Jesus’ Resurrection Appearances
h. A list of some of the best-loved or best-known Psalms
i. 100 People in the Bible you should know
2. Looking for a 2 week plan? The office has plans that cover:
a. Two weeks on the life and teachings of Jesus
b. Two weeks on the life and Teachings of Paul
c. Two weeks on the Old Testament
3. Looking to read the whole Bible in a year? The basic plan: read 3 chapters a day M-F and Sat/Sun read 5 chapters each day. The office has a few more structured plans to read the Bible in a year.
a. Consecutive Daily Bible Reading
b. The ‘One Year Bible’ Plan – You can order a ‘One Year Bible’ in the office.
Having a hard time fitting Bible Reading (or anything else) into your busy life? Here are a few tried and true options:
1. Use your phone. There are several Bible apps for a computer, Apple and Android phones. One favorite is ‘BIBLE’ from YouVersion. It is an app you can download on a PC or Phone. It has over 300 free Bible versions and 200+ reading plans. Reading plans can come with daily reminders too. There are reading plans for the whole family. Plus you can listen to the Bible as well on this app.
2. Use your car or home stereo. Zion’s library has the Bible on cds. You can also purchase the Bible in audio versions.
3. Use your PC. There are many websites that have reading plans you can subscribe to. Here are a few:
http://www.elca.org/Resources/Bible-Studies (This includes daily lectionary listings.)
Want some background on specific books or chapters? Try https://www.enterthebible.org/. It is from Luther Seminary. Click on a book and find the Scripture as well as a summary, outline, background, introductory issues and theological themes. The site also has great resources like maps, images, videos and a glossary.
The website http://www.bookoffaith.org/ also provides some great insights into how to read the Bible. The purpose of the Book of Faith initiative is to increase Bible literacy and fluency in the world. This is an ELCA website.
Find what works for you – try a few things. Just remember Martin Luther’s goal was to put the Bible in your hands.