Friday, November 26, 2010

It's that time of year again...

The calendar year is winding down, and the time of preparation for Christmas is at hand.  In fact, the new church year begins this coming Sunday.  And, if you do belong to a church body that keeps the Advent season, it is a penitential time, that is, a season of the year in which we have the opportunity to take heed of our spiritual life, to examine ourselves, and employ the means of grace that not only give us full and free salvation, but also the means to grow in our Christian life and faith.

It is also the time of year of New Year's resolutions.

I think most such resolutions are a waste of time.  But there is one commitment for the new year that you will not regret, that will provide you with being immersed in the Word of God, a commitment that can become a treasured part of your daily routine for the rest of your life: the One Year Bible.

The OYB is a systematic read through the Holy Scriptures in which the Bible is already divided into 365 readings, one from the Old Testament, one from the New Testament, one from the Psalms, and one from the Proverbs.  In this plan, the Psalms are actually read twice over the course of the year.

While the readings technically begin on January 1, I would strongly urge anyone who wants to begin this journey for the first time not to wait until New Year's day.  In fact, I would recommend starting in early December if not before.  I don't remember where I read it (ironically, because it has to do with memory), but I have read somewhere that it takes doing something 21 times before it becomes a habit.  You can get a running start in December, reading the minor prophets and Revelation, and be ready for Genesis and Matthew on New Year's Day - after the habit and routine has been established.

And for Christians who believe the Scriptures are the very Word of God, that they are a means of grace, that they are the constant companion of the believer, and that it is our responsibility (and our privilege) to make Bible reading and reflecting a routine part of our family life - per God's own exhortation.  The OYB is an outstanding way to go.

I'm not suggesting that this replace devotional uses of Scripture, such as the Treasury of Daily Prayer.  To the contrary!  I find that a systematic read through the Bible makes praying the Bible all the more meaningful.  It allows the opportunity to look up difficult passages, to become familiar with chronologies and historical details and cultural matters, and to get the Big Picture of the sweep of God's Word from eternity to eternity, from Genesis to Revelation. 

The One Year Bible provides a way for couples and for families to spend 20 minutes or so together each day drinking in God's Word, providing an opportunity for reading aloud, for questions, for reflection, and for meditation.  There is also a small companion book with a short page of Q&A on each day's readings.  I would recommend this book in a qualified way - as the questions and answers reflect a Protestant bias that most of the time is okay, but for Lutherans, some of them are contrary to our confession (such as whenever sacraments are discussed).  So just be careful if you use that resource.

If you want to do the readings online (including many different translations and languages), you can do that here. There is also a helpful blog with resources and encouragement.

If you are interested in including the Apocrypha, you do have an option.  There is a so-called Catholic edition of the OYB that adds a supplemental reading from the Apocryphal books of the Old Testament.  The bad news is 1) it seems to be out of print, and 2) it is a paraphrase translation (NLT).  So, you could find a copy of this Catholic edition, record the readings for each day, and read the Apocrypha in the version of your choice - including the LCMS quasi-official version, the ESV.  (Note: the ESV's apocrypha translation is not without its own faults.)  This tends to make the whole process more cumbersome, which is one of the advantages of the OYB.  The point is this:  If you really want to read the Apocrypha, you can do it.  But at very least, the OYB provides you with daily readings from the 66 books considered canonical by all Christian churches.

The One Year Bible is also available in several different translations.

One way or the other, at the end of 2011 you will be another year older.  Time passes either way.  You could have read the entire Bible cover to cover, or not.  The commitment is (like I said) about 20 minutes or so each day.

It's worth it, and I guarantee it will be a blessing to you!


Steve said...

Fr. Beane,
I think you put the final thought into what I had been thinking for a little while. I'm sure I'll still keep my TDP handy for the historical readings but I really want to incorporate the apochrypha, RSV, and BOC into my reading.


Bibliophile said...

One way to add the BOC into your daily reading would be, read five pages per day. You will read through the BOC about three times in a year that way. Well, you will if you are using the Tappert edition! ;-) I haven't paid attention with the new Concordia yet.
Rev. Benjamin Pollock, S.S.P.
Odessa, MN