Deans' Note March 06, 2022
Every year on the First Sunday in Lent we hear one of the account's of Jesus' wilderness experience. In Luke's version of the story, it's striking how Jesus uses his intimate knowledge of the Torah to fend off the Devil's temptations. While it may seem like Jesus is just batting Bible verses at his adversary, his use of texts, all from Deuteronomy, bespeaks a deep and grounded knowledge of Israel's Scripture.
Many contemporary Christians would do well to emulate our teacher Jesus, not simply by improving our Bible literacy, but by steeping ourselves in the knowledge of the Scriptures and being formed by them. I know many Episcopalians are insecure when it comes to knowing the Bible, despite the fact that we probably hear more of the text in our weekly worship than most of those often called "Bible Christians."
This is why the lion's share of our adult Christian Education focuses on studying the Scriptures, not only to learn about the text, context, history etc. but to let the text speak to us, and hopefully to form and transform us. We currently are in a six-part study of the Gospel of Luke, a Gospel we will hear all the way through this year until next Advent. This Sunday we welcome one of the foremost experts on Luke's Gospel in the nation, Professor Luke Timothy Johnson. Throughout this series we hope to uncover the Jesus who speaks and is alive through the presence of the Holy Spirit in the words of the Gospel.
Study of the Scriptures can of course be done in your own personal devotional reading, but it is best to be broken open together, using both the expertise of wise scholars, and the insights and experiences of ordinary Christians reading and struggling with these sacred writings.
In the service for Ash Wednesday, the Church invites us to the "observance of a holy Lent, by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God's holy Word" (emphasis added). So this Lent, make it a priority of your Lenten practice to read, meditate on and study the Bible. Come to our Christian Education events on Sunday mornings, read the Daily Office and immerse yourself in God's story and ours:
Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for
our learning: Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn,
and inwardly digest them, that we may embrace and ever
hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which you have
given us in our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with
you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
(Collect for Proper 28 in the Season after Pentecost)