Friday, August 20, 2010

St. David's News & Notes, August 20, 2010

Blessings to you all this week. My family and I are back from a wonderful week of camp. We are looking forward to launching into a wonderful season of school and, God willing, cooler temperatures.

I trust we will notice the upcoming temperature changes, and suspect that we will welcome the cooler weather (come on October!). I want to let you all know about another upcoming change that may or may not be noticeable to some of you. And, as to whether or not it's a welcomed change, I'd be happy to hear your responses, positive and negative.

The change will be two-fold, (1) a new lectionary (schedule of Sunday Bible readings), and (2) a different Bible translation (the New Revised Standard Version).

The lectionary we have been using is found in the back of our Book of Common Prayer 1979. It's a three-year lectionary that has been in use since the Prayer Book was revised. As of coming Advent we will be required to use the Revised Common Lectionary.

The Revised Common Lectionary is very similar to that of the BCP 1979. Most of the changes bring it more closely into line with the lectionary used by the Roman Catholic Church. The main difference is that it includes various options in selecting Old Testament lessons which, oddly enough, make it less "common." The option I'm choosing is the one that keeps us closest to what we've been doing. For those of you who would like some additional information about the Revised Common Lectionary, click here.

The other change will involve a change in translations from the RSV (Revised Standard Version) to the NRSV (New Revised Standard Version).

When I arrived, both churches were using the NRSV for most of the readings and the RSV for the gospels. The bulletin inserts were also in the NRSV. Since our Gospel books were RSV, I standardized all the readings in the RSV translation and ordered different inserts as well. That change went quite smoothly. I trust the change back will be just a smooth.

A few more notes on Bible translations:

I preach out of the ESV (English Standard Version) and you may have noticed that the link I use for our upcoming readings is to the ESV website. By the way, you may click this link for daily readings from the Prayer Book Daily Office lectionary from the ESV translation.

I think the best translation is whatever translation you will actually read.

In my sermon preparation I usually translate the passage from the Greek New Testament (with many helps) and reference the RSV, ESV, NRSV, NASB (New American Standard Bible), NAB (New American Bible), and NET Bible (New English Translation, click here for more info) as I work through the text.

For study I recommend using multiple translations: at least one word-for-word (i.e. ESV, NASB) and one thought-for-thought (i.e. NIV, NLT).

Click here to read a short, informative article about Bible translations. The article also contains a helpful graph comparing the various translations. Click here for a graph comparing Bible translations.

Here endeth this particular lesson (because this Bible nerd could go on and on!).

Readings for Sunday, August 22 are:
Isaiah 28:14-22
Psalm 46
Hebrews 12:18-29
Luke 13:22-30

Our regular weekly Wednesday evening Bible study is on break until after Labor Day.

Our regular weekly Wednesday evening 6pm Mass has resumed following my week of vacation.


Fr Greg+

Saturday, August 7, 2010

St. David's News & Notes, August 7, 2010

I urge you all to read--carefully, repeatedly, thoughtfully--the Dallas Willard article, How Does the Disciple Live?

If you find his thinking and writing helpful--and I dearly hope you will--you might print the article and keep it in your Bible for easy reference. This is what I'm doing as part of my spiritual exercises, because this article can help us as we employ good Bible study method: context, observation, meaning, application. And it can help in this way.

The first step in Bible study, context, most specifically refers to what part of the Bible we're reading, (1)  what kind of writing it is (law, letter, gospel, poetry, prophecy) and (2) what section of the writing it is (Exodus 12, or John 3, or Colossians 5). But there's another, and perhaps more fundamental way to think of context, namely, our personal context.

Our personal context involves especially the question of how we are coming to the text. I would suggest that there are two basic approaches, (1) at a distance and (2) as a disciple.

On the first approach, we might ask ourselves, Am I an observer from a distance? In other words, do I simply want to be aware of what the Bible contains so that I can then form my own opinions about it? This strikes me as the approach of much Bible scholarship. This approach has some value, yet it can become quite dangerous to us spiritually as it tends to put us in judgment over the text.

For the second (and recommend approach) we can ask ourselves, Am I coming to the text--a text unique in all human writing as God's inspired revelation--in order to learn from Him how things really are so that I can live with Him in His goodness? This assumes many things. For instance, it assumes that we trust a good and loving God who can and does communicate with His people in writing. It also assumes that His people can, with His help, understand and practice the things He communicates with us in His inspired and fully reliable text.

Willard's short article on discipleship (along with his many books and lectures) will help form us in this second and life-giving approach. And this approach, this context, which is the context of discipleship, can also become the context from which pray, worship, read Scripture, relate to each other, and do everything else that we do.

I'm deriving much benefit from these articles, and they are benefits that continue to accrue after over 10 years of reading and reflection. I hope I'm not over-selling one particular writer. Please know that these recommendations come from my experience and excitement that this is some of the best guidance on Christian discipleship that I've found. And much of this guidance is easily available, short, clear, and of astounding depth.

Of course, the best guidance is in the Scriptures. And here are our readings for the next two weeks.

Readings for Sunday, August 8, 2010
Genesis 15:1-6
Psalm 33
Hebrews 11:1-16
Luke 12:32-40

Readings for Sunday, August 15, 2010
Jeremiah 23:23-29
Psalm 82
Hebrews 12:1-14
Luke 12:49-56


Our Wednesday evening Bible study will resume after Labor Day, and we will study the book of Colossians. Please make the time, in preparation for our study, to read through the book 3 to 5 times. This will greatly help our conversation, and will help you grow in the practice of reading and re-reading (i.e. meditating on) larger sections of Scripture.

Wednesday Evening 6pm at St. David's will be Evening Prayer on Wednesday, August 11th.

Blessings to you all,

Fr. Greg+