Cultivating Community through an Immersion into Scripture
by Pastor Joshua
This past Sunday, I spoke a little bit about the way Jesus did a little post-Easter cultivation leading up to Pentecost. Typically, we focus on the “big events” in the Bible and miss out on a lot of the details leading up to these events and through which God works to cultivate. At least that’s true of me.
I’ve always imagined the timeline looking something like this:
Last Supper – Crucifixion – Resurrection – Ascension – Pentecost
In this way of thinking, it’s easy to think that Pentecost is a spontaneous event that comes out of nowhere.
But there’s a lot missing.
- After breaking bread with the disciples, Jesus goes to the Mount of Olives to pray.
- From the cross, he quotes the Psalms.
- After the resurrection, he appears to the disciples along the way to Emmaus and interpreted “all the scriptures.”
- When he appears to the disciples (who have locked themselves away in a room) he “open[s] their minds to understand the scriptures.”
- He spends 40 days with them prior to the ascension instructing them and speaking about the kingdom of God.
When we carefully follow the story from the cross, we begin to see that Pentecost is not something that “just happens” – rather, the moment of Pentecost is the culmination of the Christ’s careful cultivation of the disciples.
It’s no wonder, then, that the earliest formation of the church was centered on prayer, the breaking of bread, and reading the Scriptures together. These are the practices that build Christian relationships and create Christian community – and this is the way in which God continues to work in the world, even today.
As I was thinking about this, I came across a post by a clergy colleague, Pr Chris Wulff, who serves at Cross & Crown Lutheran in Indianapolis. She offered a wonderful invitation to her church to join her reading through the entire Bible in 90 days, beginning on Pentecost Sunday.
I am accepting her invitation, and extending it you. Together, let’s dig deep into the Scriptures and try to cultivate the kind of community Christ established among the disciples.
Here’s how you can participate:
Choose a bible. You can use any translation you like. The translation the lectionary uses is NRSV, in case you want to read the same translation you hear on Sunday morning. If you’re really into translation choices, you may find this helpful. But don’t get too caught up on choosing the “right” translation. The Bible you have is a great one to use. (And if you don’t have a Bible and would like me to give you one, just let me know!)
Get a schedule and keep it handy. Since this, in some way, a communal project, the schedule will keep us “on the same page” each day.
Make space for reading. The amount of Scripture you will be reading in a day will be daunting. You might find a quiet place where you can read each day. You might also think about setting aside a good block of time each day. Some may find it best to be done in the morning. Others might wish to break up each day’s passage into sections and carry your Bible with you to read throughout the day. Go with what works best for you.
Begin and end in prayer. Remember to say “please” and “thank you.” Before checking the schedule and cracking open the good Book, say a simple prayer asking God to help you keep focus and guide you through the reading. After you have completed the reading, say a prayer giving thanks.
Reflect on and talk about what you read. It’s easy to treat these kinds of devotionals like a checklist. Find a way that works for you to reflect on the passage and talk about it with others who are also participating.