Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Begin the year with the Bible

How long does it take to read the Bible cover to cover—nonstop? It took us 81 hours!

Beginning the first minute of 2003, the sound of scripture echoed through the halls of our church. Each person took a 15-minute assignment, reading from wherever the previous person left off. The marathon concluded with a unison reading of the last chapter of Revelation shortly after 9 a.m. on Jan. 4. Almost 150 people participated in the reading, with approximately 75 people present for the conclusion. News coverage was provided by area television stations and newspapers.

The senior high youth planned and led the project. The church newsletter and bulletin were used to explain and promote the idea. A few weeks before the reading began, youth were available before and after worship to sign up readers. When a snow storm made it difficult for some readers to come to the event, youth camped out in the church overnight to make sure the reading didn’t stop.

Most importantly, the marathon had a surprising and wonderful spiritual impact on those who participated. Many were blessed not only by the time they spent reading, but also by the time they spent listening. A sense of reverence filled the sanctuary and church building as voices of young and old gave sound to the ancient, yet living texts. A spirit of community emerged as readers greeted and encouraged one another throughout the marathon. Those who risked a night-time reading quickly signed up to come in a second or third night, indicating that the sacrifice gave the experience extra meaning. The boundaries of the church expanded as members welcomed friends and relatives to participate in the project.

When the last verse was read an overwhelming feeling of joy broke forth—joy not so much over having finished, but over having made the journey simply… peacefully… together. What is difficult to accomplish as an individual, is more easily done in community.

For more details or resources, contact me at dlohr@palmyracob.org.

Dennis Lohr is pastor of Christian nurture at Palmyra (Pa.) Church of the Brethren.

Source: The Seed Packet – Winter 2004

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