In the fourth grade, my church presented me with my first Bible. To me, it was a big deal. I think my peers could care less. Since I had another 45 minutes to sit in the pews and the pastor’s sermons never made sense, I opened my new Bible to the Book of Genesis and began reading. I stopped somewhere around the weird, unpronounceable descendants of Noah.
I carried that Bible with me to church and Sunday school from then on. I highlighted and wrote in it, which no one did. In fact, I think my mother told me not to do such a thing. It’s a Holy text, not some textbook after all. When the spine started to fall off, I duct taped it, or tried to. It didn’t work. Now that Bible sits among many on my shelf in my office.
I always thought the Bible was simply another book to be read and studied, a story of God’s people and their relationship with God. Yes, it’s Holy. Yes, it’s important. But it’s also this living, breathing book, a library of books actually. Meant to be read and interpreted and, as Rob Bell suggests in his book, What is the Bible?, danced with.
So why not write in my Bible? Why not treat it like a textbook a bit? Isn’t this the one place where I was able to learn about God and what God did for us humans? And about Jesus and the Holy Spirit? And church? And faith? And yet, it’s not a textbook or instruction manual. So what do we do with it? How should we be reading the Bible?
In seminary, my professors warned us they would be deconstructing everything my classmates and I knew about the Bible and more. And they did. However, I also learned how to really read the Bible, how to look at this inspired word of God and see things I hadn’t seen before. Like, how to read periods as if they were commas because God is always talking to us, even in these ancient stories. I learned to love the Bible again.
In her book, Inspired, Rachel Held Evans looks at the stories of the Bible and dances with them. She rewrites the story of Job and the woman at the well. She engages the ancient stories for today.
When I finished reading Rachel’s book, I thought – this is my Lent study. Because sometimes we need to dance with the Bible and view it from another perspective. Because the Bible is always moving and transforming, changing and adapting, even though these stories have been around for thousands of years. I invite all who wish to join me this Lent for a few Sunday evenings of engaging with Rachel’s book and the Bible.