Monday, March 31, 2014

march (ing) through the new testament

Charlie and I have been hosting a Small Group at our home for the past two months. Every Sunday night, from 6 until 8, four other families - with ten children across them - come to our home for fellowship.  With five couples and 14 kids running around, it's a great time.


When we first started our sessions, we had a pamphlet to work through that the church had provided as part of a "starter package."  And fortuitously, once we wrapped up our 'starter package', the church gave us the assignment of reading The New Testament which coincided with the start of Lent. The goal is that we will have finished our reading by Easter.  That translates to approximately 18 pages of reading, five days a week. Provided you actually do your reading five days a week.

Unfortunately for me, instead of reading the Bible everyday, I got totally hooked on Jane Austen (esque) movies. After I'd watched Emma, Sense and Sensibility, Bridget Jones' Diary (including The Edge of Reason), and the six series BBC version of Pride & Prejudice three times (once by myself, once with Charlie, and once with the kids), it dawned on me I really should give up Colin Firth / Mr. Darcy for Lent.  Before I do, I must say ... Pride & Prejudice ... if you have six hours, is the BEST MOVIE EVER. Especially the third time you watch it in less than two weeks.

While I've never read the Bible cover to cover, I've certainly tried. Years ago, I started the Old Testament and made it to Leviticus and then had to stop with all the slaughtering and blood and sacrifice. I've also skimmed through the New Testament and am familiar with all of the parables.   And what I didn't pick up from reading the actual Bible, I picked up from reading our Children's Bible which is much more my speed.

The pictures really help. 

So we've got this assignment that we're supposed to be reading the New Testament (this is the version we're reading) and when our group met last night, we should have already read  through page 206 (Ephesians).   As for me, I was still hung up on the introductory chapter trying to decipher the map of Israel in the First Century.  Charlie, however, who felt like he was totally behind the game and very much dislikes feeling like he's behind the game, had read AHEAD of where we were supposed to have read, and was quoting Bible passages like a scholar and correcting people from our small group who honestly, know a lot more about this than we do.  

I was trying so hard not to crack up, because cracking up at someone else during Bible Study seems so wrong, especially since he'd just scrambled to read the information that day.  

Anyway.  Today, I had to fly to Puerto Rico (again) and I thought this would be a great opportunity to get caught up on my reading.  By the time my flight from Washington had landed in Miami, I'd read Philemon (that was easy, it's only 1.5 pages), Philippians, 1 Timothy, and Titus.  We then had a mechanical difficulty which resulted in a three hour delay that included a plane change, followed by a 2.5-hour flight to San Juan, Puerto Rico.  Instead of feeling vexed (that's a Pride & Prejudice term), I seized the opportunity to read so that by the time we landed, I'd read 2 Timothy, Matthew, Luke and Acts and am now only 50 pages behind my group!


I probably could have read more, but I was taking my time and reading passages 2, 3 or 4 times to ensure I understood what had been written. I also kept flipping back to my Israel in the First Century Map to envision where all of this was happening.  There was a lot of highlighting and questions written in the margins.  I did wonder if it's sacrilegious to write in the margins of a Bible, but decided I'm not going to dwell on that, too much. Although I don't want any one to think that I'm practicing my righteousness in front of others (Matthew 6:1).  Honestly, I'm just trying to understand the story!

This was one of my favorite passages, written in Paul's letter to Timothy, to which I totally took heed: Stop drinking only water, and use a little wine because of your stomach and frequent illnesses. 


It was only 10 AM, so I opted instead for champagne.


Along with my chocolate chip cookie.