A lot of people think Episcopalians have no real relationship with Scripture. Because we have historically spent more time with our prayer books than our bibles, there is a misperception that we do not value Scripture or at least the the Bible is subordinate to our prayer books and therefore not central to our faith. I think many of the people who believe this are Episcopalian. The irony of this belief is that it betrays a lack of understanding about the Prayer Book, which is itself a profound mediation on Scripture that draws deeply from the well of biblical wisdom and devotion.
In other protestant traditions there can be a strong focus on private Bible devotion, which is fine and good, but the Episcopal tradition of engaging with Scripture is not solitary. We encounter the Bible together in liturgy, prayer, and song. Together we consider what God has been saying to us through the generations and what God might be trying to say now. Studying God’s Word is a communal project, one that has been going on for more than two thousand years. Like our Jewish cousins, we recognize that engaging with Scripture is a living conversation with God. It requires us to listen multiple voices—those who have gone before us as well as those at the table now—in an effort to discern what is true.
And so I urge you to join us this coming Wednesday evening at 7pm for group Bible Study. We are starting at the beginning with a deep dive into the book of Genesis, and so will be joining in a conversation thousands of years old about who God is, what it means to be human, what it means to be the children of God, and how to make our way in world full of both beauty and hardship, both love and violence. This is the essential work of the people of God.
Here is a truth I have learned about Scripture. Nobody ever got saved just by reading the Bible. But if we engage with Scripture together, together—with God’s help—we could save the world.