Reflections on Summer Bible Reading Club – 2018
I love the Summer Bible Reading Club! The content is timeless truth and the style is “study it your way.”
This is a great combination. The three discussion times are wonderful opportunities to be with other women and share what God is teaching us. As usual, Cara’s great questions stimulate meaningful discussion.
Last summer, while driving on Market Street to The Chapel for this Bible reading club, I was stopped at an intersection behind a car on which the bumper sticker read, “All who wander are not lost. J.R.R. Tolkien.” Since I’m directionally challenged (in comparison to my husband), I thought, “Yes, sometimes I wander and am lost, and sometimes I wander just to explore.”
The really great part about this reading club is that we are encouraged to read one of the three short portions of Scripture every day for a month. Pastor Tim had mentioned this immersion way of reading the Bible in the past. A couple study plans are suggested, and we are also encouraged to honor our “wonderings” and wander into the Scripture for answers to our questions. There’s opportunity to explore ideas of interest to us, and we’re even encouraged to doodle meaningful drawings in response to the truths.
Last year after the club had ended, my wondering led me to wander through Scripture looking for information about Mary, the mother of Jesus. In the Five Aspects of Woman Bible study we are encouraged to study the personality and character of women in the Bible, so I began to approach Mary’s life from this point of view. In applying the immersion approach to Bible study, I repeatedly read several passages, trying to discover what God was teaching me about her life, her relationship with God, and her character. What I learned was fascinating, and the process was engaging. I actually like a treasure hunt. Yes, Bible study can be stimulating and fun. Studying this way helps me learn better.
I learned so much about Mary, but one aspect of her life really impressed me. It is said that God tells us everything He wants us to know but not necessarily everything we’d want to know. I began to wonder what Mary looked like; what was her physical appearance. Sadly, our culture emphasizes style and physical appearance rather than character, especially for girls and women. On several occasions God does mention the physical beauty of women: Sarah, Rachel, Abigail, Tamar, Abishag, the beautiful virgins in the book of Esther, Esther herself, and Job’s daughters. To my knowledge, He does not mention how Mary looked. Her life gives evidence that she nurtured her soul, even though we don’t know what she looked like.
In Luke 1:46-55, her words give evidence that she was a young woman who was deeply immersed in God’s Word. In these ten verses (1:46-55), her own words are re-phrases of at least 12 Old Testament Scriptures. As we wander through her life history, there’s opportunity for us to wonder where she learned the Scriptures. Since her ancestry came through the line of David, we can assume she was reared in a household in which Scripture was read, discussed and observed. As an observant Jew, her father would have travelled to Jerusalem three times a year, and the family would have gone once a year at Passover. (Isn’t it interesting that we are also studying the Psalms of Ascent this summer!)
Since most young women her age were uneducated, we can assume she had no formal education. However, that is not confirmed in Scripture. We can probably accurately assume she listened to and assimilated the Scriptures being read both at home and in the synagogue. Her response of humble obedience to the angel’s announcement proves she knew and had pondered biblical truth.
God reveals her godliness, strength of character, and how she lived out her roles as servant of God, wife and mother. Her words in Luke 1 reveal the depth of her knowledge of Scripture, her humility (1:49), obedience (1:38), and faithfulness (1:30). She writes in 1:49, “He who is mighty has done great things for me.” In 1:38 she states, “I am the servant of the Lord. “In 1:30, the angel Gabriel affirms her faithfulness when he says, "You have found favor with God.” Her response in 1: 46-47 affirms her as a worshiper, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.” Her words, and later her actions, reflect a life characterized by humble obedience to God. She received His call, responded to it, rejoiced in His call and remained faithful to His call.
As I spent many hours reading and reflecting on Mary’s life, I was stunned to realize she is the only human person present at both the birth and crucifixion of her Son (Jn. 9:26-7). And talk about faithfulness!! The last mention of her is in Acts 1:14 where she is praying with the disciples. Mary lived out God’s definition of beauty as later given in I Peter 3:4, “the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.”
I’m looking forward to this last session of the 2nd annual 2018 Summer Bible Reading Club. Hope to see you there.
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