There is a men’s Bible Study group in one church in Cincinnati that meets once a week to exchange ideas about the scripture readings for the following Sunday – and of course any other things they choose to discuss. This is possible in churches that follow lectionary lessons, for example the Catholic, Lutheran, Episcopal and some Methodist congregations.
In this particular group, they read the lessons, discuss any ideas that come out of the reading and then try to guess – if you like – what the sermon on Sunday will be like. First, they ask one another what message they get from the lessons. Then they try to figure out what the pastor will preach about on Sunday. In other words, they put themselves in the pastor’s shoes.
However the pastor applies the readings during the sermon – sometimes their guess is inexact, and other times, it is in perfect agreement with the pastor’s message – those in the bible study group always experience a deeper connection with the scriptures.
Some bible study groups meet in the morning before service and discuss the pastor’s notes for the sermon. Yet others meet after the service and discuss the sermon. Both of these lack spontaneity where the scripture speaks to the group first.
Think about this Sunday’s lessons: January 29 is the Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany. The First Reading is Deuteronomy 18: 15- 20; then Psalm 111. The Second Reading is 1 Corinthians 8: 1 -13; the Gospel is Mark 1: 21 -28.
How does this scripture touch you? Remember, the Word meets you where you are.
See the illustration in the next article.