A Very Special Time

Dear Friends:

Yesterday morning was a very special time of reading the Bible for me.  God’s Word fell on me like water seeping into a sponge or oil being applied to dry, flaky skin.  It seemed just what I needed to nurture, guide, illuminate and inspire my soul as I read, pondered and applied the Scripture to my life.

As you may know, on October 4th I finished reading the New Oxford Annotated Version of the Bible and immediately began re-reading the Bible using the King James Version in honor of the 400th anniversary of the making of the KJV Bible.   I must confess that a few weeks ago, I switched to the New International Version of the Bible, which is easier to read.  I also found myself longing to underline important verses in the Bible, and I was reluctant to do this with my more formal KJV Bible.

As the morning sun poured through our front bay window, I read from the Book of Leviticus, which I found more interesting than I ever had before.  Many of the rules and regulations were fascinating.  Over and over again there was a theme that God wanted God’s priests and God’s people to be holy and clean.  Some of the rules seem strange or outdated, but the principal remains the same.  In a society that seems to believe that all things are permissible as long as they are possible, the Bible suggests otherwise.

I continued to read from the Psalter and Matthew’s account of Jesus’ Passion.  The story never grows old.  Every time I slowly and meditatively read about Jesus’ final days in Jerusalem and his death, it cuts to the heart.  Did God truly do this for us in Jesus Christ?  If so, then why don’t we lead our lives differently and offer greater gratitude for all that has been done for us in Christ Jesus?

The Gospel of Mark

This Sunday in our Sunday Forum from 11:00 – 11:45 a.m. with time after for questions and answers, we welcome back a dear friend of St. Thomas – Bishop Fred Borsch.  Bishop Borsch is a distinguished biblical scholar, a former seminary dean and the former bishop of the Diocese of Los Angeles.  His life is full of wisdom, knowledge and experience.  He has written many books, but speaks on a level that all of us can appreciate and understand.

We have asked him to speak about the Gospel of Mark, which we began reading last Sunday on the first Sunday of Advent and will read for the coming year in church as we worship.  Read Mark’s Gospel carefully.  Listen to Mark’s tone, thoughts and portrayal of Jesus.  Join us and find out about what is unique about Mark’s message.

Bear in mind that this was the earliest gospel to be written.  It is also the shortest and in some ways the strangest gospel as well.  There are no resurrection scenes in the earliest versions of Mark’s Gospel.  The action is fast and furious and the Greek word for “and” (kai) appears constantly along with the word “immediately,” so the action propels us from one event to another.  Jesus says or does something and “immediately” there is a result – a miracle, a healing or a resuscitation of someone dead.

How does Mark portray the disciples?  What was disturbing about Mark’s Gospel that other gospel writers tried to address in order to shore up the infant growth of the Church?  Why does Mark use apocalyptic language?  Why is there no birth narrative in Mark’s Gospel?  When Mark introduces us to our Lord, Jesus is already an adult.  Hence, Mark offers no Christmas story.  What are we to make of the empty tomb, but no resurrected Jesus?  Come, find out and ask Bishop Borsch hard questions based upon your careful reading of the Bible.

The Bible Challenge Banquet

Please don’t forget to mark your calendars for Saturday, January 21 for our first Annual Bible Challenge Banquet.  The schedule is at follows:

5:30 p.m. – A Choral Evensong in the church at St. Thomas in your honor
6:15-6:45 p.m. – Wine and cheese in MacColl Auditorium
6:45-7:20 p.m. – A scrumptious candlelight dinner
7:30-7:45 p.m. – A keynote address on being passionate about the Bible
7:45-8:00 p.m. – The awards ceremony

Everyone who has participated in the 2011 Bible Challenge will receive a special certificate for a year of faithful Bible reading.  Those who finished reading the Bible by January 20 and let us know by noon that day will receive a special certificate for reading the entire Bible.  Those who have finished reading it and have begun re-reading it will receive a special award and commendation from the rector.

Please RSVP to Anita Burke at: aburke@stthomaswhitemarsh.org and PLEASE let Anita know if you have finished reading the entire Bible and if so, if you have begun reading it again, so that we can know which certificate or award to bestow upon you.

With prayers for your continued and inspired reading of the Bible,