This month’s Vestry meditation comes from Marjorie Lell, who is completing her second year on the Vestry. Marjorie currently serves as the head of the Martha’s Ministry (coordinates receptions for funerals, weddings, baptisms etc.) and oversees the church kitchen, as well as serving on the Altar Guild.
Throughout my life I have never been a regular Bible reader. I grew up in the Catholic faith, attended Sunday school, studied my catechism, and had my Saint Joseph’s Missal for various services and prayers. Bible study, reading the Bible or even referring to the Bible was not an important part of my family’s religious or spiritual life. I had a Baptist best friend, Vivian, who was very proficient in knowledge of, and use of, the Bible. I admired her for her skills but I never felt called to follow her lead in Bible study. As an adult I attended study groups which referenced Bible passages, not only using the passages as examples of the history of the formation of Christian religion, but as a means to grow spiritually and a guide for living my life. I listened to the liturgy readings on Sundays trying to apply the readings to my life. Nothing quite sparked an interest in making the Bible an important part of my spiritual growth.
In 2011 I was a member of the Education Commission at Good Shepherd. We decided to offer the program “The Bible in 90 Days.” The program was a Bible study and we were invited to read twelve pages of scripture each day until we had read the entire Bible in ninety days. I decided I could do that. Study groups for the program were established and I facilitated one of the study groups on Tuesday afternoons. It was an interesting program and, as I read along, I got a sense of history, the formation of a community of believers, and the development and establishment of the Christian religion. I sometimes got lost in the name changes and the chronological order of the Bible, but I would soon get back on track using the companion book that supplemented the readings.
It was all very interesting but nothing sparked a great need to make the Bible an important part of my life. On day 85 I read my twelve pages from Hebrews 1 to James 2. This was my “AH HA” moment. James spoke to me as though we were friends, talking together to find a spiritual path for my life. Every idea, every teaching seemed to be clearly showing me the way I should be living my life. “What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds?” I have always felt a need to live my life or to volunteer in some capacity in order to show Christ’s love to others. “…Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” How many times have I interrupted to speak when I should have been listening, become angry before the facts of the situation are clear? “…you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that’ “ Not worrying about what is ahead in my life and learning to live on God’s time is a discipline I practice over and over, sometimes getting it right, sometimes worrying needlessly.
I couldn’t wait for day 86 to read the rest of James, more wisdom, more direction. The Book of James, in five short chapters, has become a guide and a light on my spiritual path. Have I become a Bible scholar? No, but I have come to understand that, for me, there is much more to study and explore in reading God’s word.