Read the bible
The greatest resource we have as christians is the bible, and close, prayerful familiarity with it and regular reading is the most important and the most effective way of deepening our discipleship, increasing our familiarity with Jesus Christ, and becoming faithful followers.
Use of the bible at All Saints
The careful reading of the bible is central to all our public worship at All Saints. Our daily services of Morning Prayer, Evening Prayer and Holy Communion each contain two intelligently chosen readings from both Old and New Testaments. Our Sunday Eucharists generally have three readings from the bible. In most of our services we work regularly through the Psalms, the bible's song book. Most of our preaching and teaching starts with the unfolding of the scriptures. Our small groups generally are structured around understanding and responding to passages from the bible.
You and your bible
Our personal copy of the bible should be a big part of our life, and should be handy when we sit and think, when we go to bed and when we travel. If we aspire daily to build our relationship with Jesus Christ and to follow him more nearly, we need the book of the faith that spawned him, of the life he lived and his teaching, and of the earliest efforts of people to make his church. Recent research into what kind of people are most inclined and most able to communicate the christian life to others and help them come to faith themselves named frequently speaking of Jesus and frequently reading the bible as the top signs.
There are dozens of versions to choose from. In church, and on this website, we tend to use the New Revised Standard Version, in its Anglicised form (the original is American and apparently they speak a different language over there). It reads well and sounds good out loud, it is highly respected for the scholarship and even-handedness of its translation, and it avoids sectarian emphasis. It can be bought very cheaply, either from Unicorn Tree Books in Lincoln Central Market (tell Melanie you are from All Saints), or online from Church House Bookshop, which you can access by clicking here. Do try other versions. The New International Version is widely available in a variety of shapes and sizes and popular across the protestant world. The Good News Bible is probably more of a paraphrase than a scholarly translation - the best version that uses modern language and new metaphors to make the spirit of the bible communicate with a 21st century readership, though at the price of accuracy, is The Message, which we quite often use in informal worship and with young people. The New Jerusalem Bible is a good and readable version from the Roman Catholic Church - same stuff but with their strange mis-numbering of the psalms! They make a small, light, leather-bound and zipped version that nestles very comfortably next to your sponge bag! You can read the bible (and search and research it) very effectively on the internet or on your phone, and we have an online bible resource you can reach by clicking here.
Getting some tips on reading the bible
Reading and understanding the bible can be quite a daunting task. Luckily there is help at hand
It is important that you decide how you are going to use this amazing, God-given resource.
Brushing up on what you hear in church
You could simply decide to read for yourself more carefully the passages you hear in church, and maybe the ones you miss. You could set yourself the task of reading a bit of a particular book of the bible each day, or whenever you set aside for this work. You could decide - it is a great thing to do just before Easter - to read a whole Gospel at a sitting - St Mark's gospel takes barely a couple of hours even if you are slow reader.
Choosing the right bits
Choosing what to read is a challenge. It is fair to say some bits of the bible are easier and some bits seem more relevant to us today than others. Whilst some of the Old Testament history books shed light on God's relationship with the people over many centuries, and indeed contain some cracking stories, they also can seem to go on a bit. Speak to one of the ministry team if you'd like some advice. One of St Paul's letters (the Epistles) is always going to raise relevant issues for the reader.
Not reading alone and unsupported is probably good advice for most people. There are hundreds of books to help you read the bible - they give you context, explanation and suggestions of meaning for us as Christians. They are called commentaries. We have a great collection in the new parish library in the Parish Centre. A general one of your own would be handy - many of us use Harpers Bible Commentary as a starting point, and it covers the whole bible. Again, commentaries come from a variety of perspectives - some based on high levels of scholarship, some from a more motivational approach, some from a strict belief in the instructional nature of the bible for every aspect of our lives, and some from a different angle relating passages to the life and teaching of the church. Talk to one of the clergy or our reader if you want a bit of advice.
Doing bible with others
Finding a bible-buddy, or a group of bible-buddies is helpful to most people. Maybe that is your house-group, maybe it is a small group of friends or like-minded people within the church community. Organise it yourself, or ask one of the ministry team for advice.
Joining a study group
We have close links at All Saints with an organisation that promotes structured, informed reading of the bible and discussion - Community Bible Study International. It is ecumenical and quite a few at AllSants belong to groups - there are several in the area, two with close links. To find out more, speak to Sandy or Andy, or click here.
If you prefer to do it alone or with your own little circle, try the fantastic bible-study resource available online from the Bible Society. Called Explore the Bible, it offers a clear readable text, fantastic teaching notes, and a way of relating each and every passage to a host of themes, So if you want to explore the life of the early church in Corinth, you can do it. If you want to find, read and understand bible texts that have something to say, for example, about Empathy, or Communion, or Peace, it works a treat. Try it by clicking here, and tell us what you find! Wouldn't it be great if some of the conversations in church over coffee were about "what I found this week in the bible".
As we learn to use our new Parish Centre, we hope to increase the ways in which we can support you in reading the bible, with groups for different age-bands, and from a variety of perspectives. Watch this space.
Praying the bible
Curiosity, desire to get closer to Jesus and prayerfulness are three reasons to read the bible regularly. If you'd like to explore linking your bible reading with your prayer life, look at advice from Paula Gooder, and click here