Celebrate the Easter Season with The Episcopal Church through Online Bible Study Group
The Episcopal Church invites online visitors into a Bible study by posting comments and thoughts on each week”s Sunday readings from the Revised Common Lectionary (RCL). The complete weekly readings are posted along with study questions and reader comments at: http://www.episcopalchurch.org/107902_116094_ENG_HTM.htm
Mark Harbour, a volunteer and regular contributor from the Diocese of Los Angeles, explains, “The simple act of sharing our understanding of a Biblical passage with others is powerful. This exchange of ideas and observations has become, for me, personally, a remarkably helpful catalyst in growing my faith.”
According to its mission statement, the online weekly Bible study intends “to grow an active, web-based community of laity and clergy to share insights and perspectives from the Episcopal Church”s Revised Common Lectionary (RCL) Sunday readings.” Its vision is “to develop a deeper understanding of the Bible and to foster spiritual growth by applying the understanding gained from lectionary readings into the context of daily life.”
The readings for the week of April 19-25, the Fourth Sunday of Easter (commonly known as Good Shepherd Sunday) are Acts 9:36-43; Psalm 23; Revelation 7:9-17; John 10:22-30.
The online Bible study also offers a downloadable list of weekly readings for the current lectionary year, which facilitates not only online participants but congregational Bible study groups as well.
Links with Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/pages/RCL-Bible-Study/110318355668405), Twitter (http://twitter.com/RCLBibleStudy), and other websites such as the ecumenical scriptural resource www.Textweek.com have driven traffic to the Bible study pages, helping the website grow into a resource useful not only to Episcopalians, but to all who seek to connect to an online faith community for study and reflection on Scripture. Some leave comments, some simply read what others have written, and some raise questions.
As Harbour explains, “The process of becoming a better Christian is not finding the answers to questions as much as getting better at asking them.”
A special feature of the online Bible study is the weekly focus verse, designed for readers who want to participate but don”t have time to review all the lectionary readings each week. Highlighting a single verse or a few short verses from each week”s gospel selection allows even those with busy schedules to ponder a single sentence or two.
Since the online Bible study began in February 2009, reader comments have been generated from across the United States and Europe.
Commenting on this week”s gospel reading, John 10:22-30, a reader from the Diocese of Northern Indiana noted: “We hear Jesus” in our prayers, as long as we learn not to chatter at him; as we read and hear the Scriptures, as we worship and as we receive him in the Sacrament. The proof of the hearing is that we follow Jesus. That is the bit we don't like. The fold is so comfortable and safe, a place where we can concentrate on getting things the way we want them to be. It is a thorough nuisance to be told that we are to follow Jesus as his witnesses into all the world. The fold is so much safer, behind those closed red doors where we can have meetings, take votes and establish policy. Jesus calls us into the world. Perhaps deafness is safer.”
A reader from the Diocese of Kansas added, “At Chanukkah as well as at Succoth, Jesus refuses to let himself be trapped into claiming that he is what the Jews expect the Messiah to be. His answer is the same that he gave to the disciples of John the Baptist, that he was giving sight to the blind and healing the lame. Although this had been adequate for the baptists, the temple Jews kept demanding that he conform to their conception. Hence the dichotomy of my sheep” and not my sheep.” Claiming the shepherd role was itself a messianic attribute, but again their hostility prevents them from seeing what Jesus is driving at.”
The readings for the week of April 26 – May 2, for the Fifth Sunday of Easter, are Acts 11:1-18; Psalm 148; Revelation 21:1-6; John 13:31-35. The focus verse is: “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another” (John 13:34).
For more information on the online Bible study contact the coordinator, Sarah Johnson, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Weekly Online Bible Study: http://www.episcopalchurch.org/107902_116094_ENG_HTM.htm
The Episcopal Church: www.episcopalchurch.org