Reading Scripture as a Daily Spiritual Practice

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The Bishop's Blog

God is always giving us a new beginning.  As we enter into 2013, I want to offer a method for spiritual growth.  You may already have a plan, and if so that is wonderful.  If not, I invite you to consider this spiritual practice.

I find that a plan and a structure helps me.  I will read one chapter a day from the New Testament, beginning with Matthew 1 on January 1.  When I reach the last chapter of Revelation, I will start again with Matthew 1, and read through the gospels, to the last chapter of John.  This will take me to the end of 2013. 

Several of the new bishops (including McAlilly, Harvey, Steiner Ball, McKee, Cho, Mueller and Wallace Padgett) are participating, as is my friend Bob Tuttle, but it is not about us.  It is, in the words of Eugene Peterson, "a long obedience in the same direction", grounded in our confidence that God always changes us and renews the church from the "inside out"---through listening to the Word.

I write this on January 4, and so today is Matthew 4.  This year I am reading from The Message, but any translation is fine.  My general practice is to read the chapter through once, then to read it a second time, underlining words or writing notes in the margins, and then to use a yellow highlighter to note the most significant phrase for me on this day.  I try to carry this phrase through the day, and connect it with what is going on around me.  This is a very simple form of lectio divina, an ancient practice of meditating on scripture. 

We are, all of us, becoming disciples of Jesus Christ.  To be a disciple is to undertake a discipline, and to be a disciple of Jesus is to be more disciplined in knowing more about him.  Then we will fulfil the desire of the prayer:  "to see thee more clearly, to love thee more dearly, to follow thee more nearly, day by day."

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