Happy New Year!
Dear Cathedral Family,
After the feasting and football of the Thanksgiving holiday, we begin a new church year this Sunday, the First Sunday of Advent. This can be a wonderful time, apart from the cultural New Year’s resolution cycle, to make a spiritual “New Year’s Resolution,” to set (or reset) an intention in your personal spiritual life.
If you do not presently have a practice of quiet time with scripture, you will be amazed at the joy that it can bring. One place to start might be with the Daily Office lectionary as Year One begins on Sunday; you can easily follow it through the Forward Day by Day app or other online resource. I use this myself now, as many of you probably do, too.
Still, there is something more personal, peaceful, and contemplative about holding a physical copy of the Bible, turning and lingering over its pages, returning to passages that you have read or marked as you feel moved to do so. There is no one “right” or perfect translation; choose one that feels comfortable to you, that makes sense to you.
And pray for the grace to set aside any anxiety you may have about “not knowing enough” or not understanding enough. Encountering God’s word in scripture is a gift, a personal aspect of the life of every disciple, every follower of Jesus. Try to come to the word with hopeful expectation and openness to surprise, reading slowly and prayerfully, listening for the words or phrases that speak to you. This is one way that God speaks to you wherever you are in your life now.
If you feel ambitious or ready for a challenge, there are many plans for reading through the whole Bible in a year. One good plan in the Episcopal tradition may be found at www.thecenterforbiblicalstudies.org. Or, you may choose to read slowly through the New Testament, beginning with Matthew, our primary gospel for the year ahead. Reading through the Psalms is another simple plan.
Whatever way you choose to encounter scripture in the year ahead, my prayer is that you will discover the truth expressed in Hebrews 4:12, “the word of God is living and active,” and that you will find, in the words of Paul in Romans 10:8 (echoing Deuteronomy 30:14) that “the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart.”