The Wesleyan Means of Grace have become an integral part of my life. I pray without ceasing, fast at least one day in ten, meditate, attend worship in churches throughout the District, and share witness and testimony about how you, who are my sisters and brothers in Christ, are bringing the Lord into peoples’ lives, hearts and souls. One of the first sermons I shared with a congregation was called “Getting Out of the Routine.” I spoke about how easily what we do can become a habit, a comfortable way of the same practices in the same way for weeks, months or years. Intentionally or not, we put our faith on automatic pilot.
One example I used, was how we recite the Lord’s Prayer. The words are so familiar to us, that we may not hear the beauty of this very awesome prayer Jesus taught to the disciples and us. So every once in a while, I try to do something completely different, get out of my routine, so that I may see what is before me with new eyes, and hear God’s Word with fresh ears. I say the Lord’s Prayer in another language, look for new interpretations or reflect on each phrase as I utter the words our Lord and Savior taught us. The same is true for the Bible.
For several years I have committed to reading the entire Bible between January 1 and December 31. I have never read the Bible the same way twice. These are some of the ways I have read it in the last 10 years: chronological order, reverse chronological order, alphabetical order, longest to shortest Book, Wisdom Books first, prophets first, and New Testament, then Hebrew Testament. Last Summer, I received the CEB Storytellers Bible. Through narrative and commentary, a few scholars offer their perceptions about the cultural, political and social climate of our ancestors in faith.
This version of the Bible adds another layer to our understanding of the relationship between our Lord and creation. Like The Message, the Storytellers Bible will enrich how I read, meditate and reflect on Scripture as part of my spiritual devotion. Of course there are numerous versions of the Bible available to us. Biblegateway and Biblehub are two of the websites I frequently visit to read several versions of the Bible, as I prepare for my time of meditation and reflection.
What resources do you use for sermon preparation?
Do you consult the same commentaries and versions of the Bible each week?
Does your message follow a clear pattern — possibly a 3 point sermon, a so what moment, a challenge or a time of reflection for those in the service?
Have you ever gotten out of your routine?
What new insights and discoveries will occur as you read a different version of the Bible, or consult a new commentary?
How will the living Word speak to you as it did the first time?
May each of us, as we practice Wesley’s Means of Grace, do so in new ways . May the means we do bring us to a greater and deeper understanding of who we are and whose we are. And Amen.