By Judy Gibson Holmes
Around New Year’s every year, folks bring up the subject of possibly reading the Holy Bible all the way through in one year. Some accomplish that goal, others continue to try each year. Some local ministers have given some advice on how to accomplish that worthwhile resolution goal. “Let’s read the Bible all the way through in 2016.” Reverend Tommy Barwick of Johnston said, “There are different methods for reading through the Bible in one year. The first important step is to find a schedule so you’ll know which and how many chapters to read each day. One method of course is to read straight through from Genesis to Revelation, dividing the daily readings as evenly as possible. Another method is to read a little of the Old Testament and a little of the New Testament each day, perhaps one reading in the morning and one in the evening. There is also a One-Year Bible which provides daily Scripture reading: one reading from the Old Testament, one from the New Testament, and also a little of the Psalms and Proverbs each day. Finally, there are also audio recordings of the Bible that someone could listen to while in their car, while working or while walking or whatever they are doing. Reverend Cheryl Toothe of Trenton plans on reading the Holy Bible through again this year. Reverend Toothe said, “Yes, I plan on reading the Bible cover to cover this year.” Her favorite way to do this is by reading a couple of chapters from the Old Testament one day, then a few chapters from the New Testament the next day. By that she means to read a few chapters in Genesis, then the next day, a few chapters in Matthew. She will continue back and forth until she finishes the Bible. “I do this Monday through Saturday. On Sunday, I read whatever the scripture for that day’s sermon is. Some books are very short, so I read them through in one night.” She goes on to say one can always find guides in book stores, on line, or even from certain radio stations. “I find my way works best for me.” Reverend Frank Nicholson of Johnston said, “The Old Testament is about the law and studying it gives you knowledge. The New Testament gives you the grace of obedience to Christ’s living grace. I believe in reading the Bible all the way through, learning about the law and accepting Jesus’ love and grace. Because He lives and saves us, our obedience is to Him.” Reverend Paul Frey of Dalzell, formerly of Johnston, said, “Reading through the Bible in the course of a calendar year can be accomplished with ease and with joy, but it may take some planning, or at the least. a good plan. Many a devout person has started reading the Bible from cover to cover with great fervor only to become bogged down by the minutia of the regulations set forth in Leviticus or the seemingly unending “begats” in Numbers. It’s not surprising that, glassy-eyed and confused, they give up and start to feel guilty over their lack of tenacity soon after confronting Deuteronomy! Rev. Frey notes that some folks can get through the Holy Book that way, but for most that becomes a truly overwhelming endeavor. Reverend Frey added, “However, there are other ways to do it! Let me suggest three online resources that can help. First he notes that an excellent resource is www.commonenglishbible.com. It is the home site for the Common English Bible, a relatively new, accurate, and very readable translation of the Scriptures. Their plan includes some very helpful tips for maintaining your reading program and presents a series of topical downloadable readings for the year. Another is www.biblica.com, the official site of the NIV Bible. The folks at Biblica have a plan that divides the Bible into a year-long adventure that includes daily readings from the Old Testament, New Testament, and Psalms or Proverbs. Bible Gateway, www.biblegateway.com, provides plans for reading the Bible with daily Old Testament and New Testament readings, a chronological plan (reading events in the order in which they occurred), a beginning to end plan, a plan for reading the books in the order in which they ere written, and even an intensive plan the will take you through it all in just ninety days. “Using these online plans can be of real benefit in keeping the reader on track, giving variety in readings, and providing encouragement in knowing that others are reading with you. It may be even more helpful to pursue any one of these plans with a small group of friends. There is strength, encouragement, and accountability in a group and you’ll be amazed and gratified by the conversations and the depth of relationships that will grow out of this shared experience!” And he adds: “The key factor is to start — the sooner the better!” Father Emmanuel Andinam of St. Mary’s of the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church explains how his church reads the Bible through in three years: “Regarding the use of the Bible in the worship life of the Catholic Church (the Mass), we have one division for Sunday and another for Weekdays. The Sunday Order for the reading of the Bible is divided into a three Year Cycle. Whereas the weekday reading is divided into a Two Year Cycle. In each of these divisions we have the opportunity to read the whole Bible in our worship within the two time frames.” Father Andinam noted that there is also a tradition in the Catholic regarding the reading of the Bible for growth in an individual’s personal spiritual life. One of the traditional forms of Bible reading where the intention is to open oneself to what God wants to say to us through the Bible is called Lection Divina (Divine Reading or Sacred Reading). This method of Bible reading pertains to the use of the Bible in prayer and not as a text to be studied and understood in an intellectual manner. This way of reading the Bible goes back to the 4th Century and it was started by the monks called the Desert Fathers. This was made poplar by St Benedict when he employed the practice in his Monasteries. The way of reading the Bible consists of four steps which are called in Latin; Lectio (Reading), Meditation (Meditating), Oratio (Praying) and Contemplatio (Contemplating). After selecting the scripture passage which is the first step, the individual or group that is practicing Lectio Divina begins by reading that scripture passage slowly and reflectively to allow it to sink into their hearts. The aim in this practice is based in seeking to hear God’s word as if it is addressed to you personally and directly. The second step is Meditating. This involves thinking about the text with the aim of finding what God wants to tell you. The third step is Praying. this involves letting ones heart to respond to the word of God and to speak to him from the heart. The fourth step is contemplating or resting at the deepest level to what God is saying. There is a nice summary of this practice that is attributed to a Southern Minister who speaks in the vernacular thus; “I reads myself full, I thinks myself clear, I pray myself hot and lets myself cool.” Lectio Divina is a way of reading the scripture whereby we gradually let go of our own agenda an open ourselves to what God wants to say to us.