Dear Hyde Park Family,
Some of the most serendipitous privileges of ministry occur when I am planning a funeral with a family, and they hand me their loved one’s personal Bible. Its pages often contain highlighted scriptures, underlined words, and handwritten notes in the margin, creating a living journal of that person’s journey of faith.
As a congregation living into its core value of being biblically rooted, we believe that the Bible is not just an anthology of stories or a collection of pious phrases. It is a living book, through which the transformative power of the Holy Spirit can change the trajectory of your life.
And the only way that can happen is if you read it.
That’s why one way we are living into the vision plan that we adopted last fall is to take an intentional journey through the Bible next year as a congregation. Last Sunday, I announced in my sermon an exciting new endeavor called “The Bible Project 2020,” in which we will read the Bible cover to cover, Genesis to Revelation, from January to December next year.
Why? Well, first of all, the Vision Team heard a strong desire from this congregation to strengthen its connection to God and to each other by reading and studying the Scriptures. It’s an idea that came from all of you. Second, following the same reading plan will be more than just checking an item off a daily to-do list. It will help you develop a rhythm to your routine, enabling you to spend more time with God every day. And by doing it together next year, we will receive new clarity, “2020 vision,” in understanding and applying the Bible to our lives.
So, since last January, teams of staff and lay people have been working on lots of resources to guide and support us as we take this journey last year:
WORSHIP: We will be preaching our way through the Bible through thirteen separate worship series that will track our way through the Scriptures. And we’ll follow the same daily reading plan, so that we can follow along together.
DAILY DEVOTIONAL: We are currently developing a daily devotional with daily insights on the reading from me, as well as reflections written by church members like yourselves.
PODCAST: To help us unpack the meaning of some of the more challenging passages, we are creating a weekly podcast, led by a team of lay people and featuring guest experts on the texts.
CHILDREN AND YOUTH: Our Children’s and Youth Ministries will be taking a journey through the Bible as well in their curriculum, so that families can talk about these stories together.
ONLINE DISCUSSION: We’ll be creating a way for you to share your questions and insights on the daily readings with me and others through online discussion groups.
SMALL GROUPS: Finally, we will be creating small groups for you to choose to be a part of at times along the way. If you join one, you’ll be able to meet together and have a safe place to ask questions, gain insights, and figure out how to apply these Scriptures in your lives.
You’ll hear much more about this exciting journey between now and when we start it on January 1. But for now, here are answers to a few initial questions:
What reading plan will we be following? And is there a required Bible or translation we will be using? The daily readings will come from a plan that is part of the NRSV Daily Bible, which we will make available in our Aldersgate Coffee Shop, along with many other Bibles to choose from. However, you do not need to use that particular Bible, or any particular translation, to join us in this journey. We will make the reading plan available to everyone for free.
I’m already in a small group. Does our group have to do this? We hope that every existing small group will consider being a part of this experience. However, there is great flexibility in this journey, and your group can choose to join in just for parts of the journey along the way. If you have any questions, feel free to contact our Director of Small Groups, Nicki Taylor.
This is all part of strengthening our GRIP, our four private spiritual practices of Giving generously, Reading the Bible, Inviting others to Jesus, and Praying. I am excited about what learning to read the Bible faithfully, without fear or frustration, will do in your life, and in the life of our congregation.
Grace and Peace,
The Rev. Magrey deVega
Senior Pastor, Hyde Park United Methodist