On most Sundays, I publish the Sunday Lesson. They’re nothing more than an observation or an idea or a study I’m working on that has useful applications. For anyone.
Writing this, I feel deeply blessed and deeply responsible. I schedule the posts to publish at 1:35 on Sundays. Sign up to the site, and you’ll be notified anytime I publish something new. I love comments and try to respond to them all. Be forewarned that I reserve Sundays for my family. It’s a work in progress, but a goal we’re all growing into. So, if I don’t respond, I’m probably playing chess with my daughter or watching lousy TV with my wife. On an outstanding day, I might catch a couple innings of Braves baseball. With my wife, of course. It’s Sunday.
I hope that this longest of years is behind us. At least in the West, aside from specific family issues, it hasn’t been horrible in the worst sense. We have food and water and, if we can’t see our family face to face, we can at least phone or text them. In 2021? I hope we can dance together, sing and read and nosh on glorious cake for our daughter’s birthday party with all the guests, but that is yet to be seen. In any conversation, Wisdom always holds up a hand, palm out, even in the best of times, to say, “Not so quick…”
Regular readers know I read a lot. And write a lot. There is something that burns in me to do this, to live a life of ideas and thoughts and writing about them. So, this, the first Sunday Lesson of the year, is not really a lesson but me urging you to lay back and read more. For enjoyment. For edification. For learning. For change.
First, read more in general. Read everything. In all genres. Read the newspaper and the back of the cereal box. Think about people and faith and your family and yourself when you do. Who knows what you’ll discover?
Secondly, read your Bible more. Lots more. There are different ways to read anything, and what I recommend here is not studying but soaking. Read the Bible until its thoughts swamp you. Both the Christian and Hebrew stories. Until it begins to transform your mind. I heard a man years ago talk about how the words of Jesus are just brainwashing. “Well?” he said. “I guess that’s okay. My brain needed a lot of washing.” Read until you understand what the two followers of Jesus meant when they mysteriously met Him on the Emmaus Road after His crucifixion. Afterward, reflecting on meeting the King of Kings, and talking with Him, they said, “Didn’t our hearts burn within us when He spoke?” Read until that feeling envelops you like a wool blanket on a cold day.
Third – controversy ahead -read other religious books and books about humankind. Understand them enough to broaden your scope of being human. Apply the same reason you do in reading the Bible. Don’t be afraid of it. Augustine famously said that all truth is G’s truth. Embrace it.
Here are some reading helps to get you started:
We are mostly taught the story of Israel and of Jesus in a piecemeal fashion, a verse here and a story plucked from there. Reading either Testament in chronological order is eye-opening. I do the Chronological Reading Plan from Blue Letter Bible. Check out all the plans here. Each has a printable checklist, too, to scratch off as you go. The printable motivates me to read something each day so I can check something off. I am nothing if not a maniacal list doer. Pick a plan, and, if you like it, trudge on. If not, start another. There’s no rule, and G will still love you.
Wouldn’t you know it? Catholic On-line has a reading plan with a more Catholic bent. I like their daily readings and there’s plenty here to sift through. A great resource.
The Greek Archdiocese of America has this handy annual checkoff list that includes the Apocrypha. As is their wont, they have more of an emphasis on saints, feasts, and the calendar.
Here’s an interesting one: I haven’t read it, but it comes well respected. Karen Swallow Prior is a Literature prof who believes that reading the right literature aids in growing your Christian character. She outlines this idea and gives reading suggestions in her book On Reading Well.
Here’s a post from last year with reading ideas, too. All good stuff!
Enjoy and happy reading.
By way of explanation, I label myself as an agnostic Christian. I attend a Southern Baptist church and am comfortable with Roman Catholic and Orthodox theology and all kinds of Protestant thought. For Bibles, I generally use the Jerusalem Bible, the English Standard Version, and the Amplified Bible. A favorite verse is Micah 6:8 where the prophet says:
G has already told you what is right and what to do: do what is right, love loyalty, and walk humbly with G.