As I reflect back on my children learning to read I remember them first learning letters, then words then sentences. My oldest started reading at 3 we know this because he went on a Ferris wheel and said “don’t rock the seat” over and over and when asked why he pointed to the sign in front of him .
He read the sign.
My other children also read early, but with one difference. They seemed more able to make connections to what they read.
For multiple reasons(maybe we pushed too hard with the first but making connections was never easy for him.
You may ask, “What does this have to do with the Bible?”
Well as we mature in our faith we read differently…yes…it’s true
we can pick up the bible and read the words, the prayers, psalms and stories it contains but at an elementary level…that is all we are doing is reading…and perhaps memorizing some of what we read.
At some point though, it becomes clear that just reading the words is not enough.
I am not suggesting that we need to fully understand what we read; but it is important to make connections to what we are reading.
The next question is how do we do that? How do we start to realize the relevant connections of ancient scripture to our own lives?
and once we do that : How do we make those connections start happening for the classes we teach, whether first graders or senior citizens how do we help other’s make connections to the stories of Jesus, the stories told by Jesus, and the other stories in the bible.
Here are my suggestions:
this does not mean hours upon hours of digging into academia, rather get a good bible with a concordance, one that perhaps even gives you some history of the book you are reading from right at the beginning of each book
do a search online
It is so super easy to type in a passage you want to share and find much true information, stick to the first few headings when you search and you should be ok
for example I just searched
“Pauls Letter to the Ephesians”
and the first thing that came up was a link to a page on the United States Council of Catholic Bishops Website giving an introduction to Ephesians
you can find it here
another great resource is Bible Gateway they talk of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians here
I like bible gateway especially for bible study because you can look up a verse in many different translations of the bible and it opens up for discussion the different ways people may understand that verse.
2. Make connections for yourself
read, read and reread, basically do a lectio divina on the passage you are going to discuss
think about what stands out to you in that passage
think about why it stands out to you
what is it saying about you, your faith, etc.
3. Share your connections and encourage others to share what they get out of the passage
regardless of the age of your class be prepared to offer mini suggestions to get them thinking about how they may act on what they have heard or read in that scripture passage
maybe it speaks to their internal faith
maybe it speaks to their interactions with others
4. Discuss what to do next
Reading is one thing
Making connections is one thing
Acting on what you read is quite another
perhaps acting is
going out and sharing their bible reading experience with someone else
perhaps it is volunteering somewhere
perhaps it is just praying for more insight on what to do next.
Yes the Bible was meant to be read
but without making connections to what was read
and then acting on those connections
and how they impact our life
the Bible may just as well be any other book that we read and set aside.
We must act
we must continue to read
to make connections
to spread the Good news.