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One of my religion courses this fall at NVCC is The Life and Teachings of Jesus.  Part of the course requirement calls for me to journal every week for at least one hour on any questions and/or issues that arise from exploring these scriptures, our discussions in class, and hopefully God’s revelation to me.  The class will focus mostly on the New Testament’s Synoptic Gospels according to Matthew, Mark and Luke, but our text also includes John’s Gospel as a separate section.  


I knew journaling would be part of this class because I had the same professor during summer term.  I very much enjoyed her class (Religions of the World: Eastern Traditions) and learned a lot.  When I shared with her my path of discernment and call to Holy Orders, she lobbied me to take this course with her.  She said it would prepare me for the type of biblical exploration required in seminary.  I figured she being a graduate from VTS in the early 1970s probably knows of what she speaks.  EH is not ordained, but she is a very good instructor and she proclaims LTJ is her favorite class to teach.


So for my first journal entry as I begin this study of Jesus and his teachings, my professor asked that I consider what I want to learn from her class?  What do I want to get out of this course?  What kind of understanding and knowledge would I hope to gain from it?


Well, first to be honest: my other religion course is a Survey of the Old Testament.  So I guess I’m going for a “biblical immersion” through our local community college system.  Both the instructors have theological educations, having earned their M.Div. from different, but respectable, seminaries.  One has an Episcopal heritage; the other a Lutheran background.  But the Bible is The Bible – The Word of God – divinely inspired, written by the people of the Old and New Testament.  Thankfully, both classes are small so it will be an intimate process of learning.  What I seek is to know the Bible more fully through these works.   


At my parish church, I lead a monthly Bible study by employing an informal method called the African Model of Reflection or “Praying with Scripture”.  It is easy to use, and promotes good interaction by any or all who gather.  We do not seek an “actual” or “correct” meaning of the scripture we explore.  Rather, we merely share how the Bible speaks to each of us.  It doesn’t require any teaching by me (not than I’m qualified) so it doesn’t constitute ‘heavy lifting’ on my part.  I’ve “taught” other bible studies, but have never felt sufficiently informed or comfortable enough to push that too far. 


My interest this fall semester is to learn more about critical methodologies and practices to expand my “tool box” for exploring the richness of the Holy Scriptures.  I have had only a brief taste of exegetical workings to consider a critical explanation or interpretation of a portion of the Bible.  Through that, I’d hope to find new and different things in texts familiar to me that I have read several, even multiple, times before.  My aim is to press further into the fruits of scripture, while sharing with and learning from others, to hopefully reach a better understanding so I can ably share God’s Word and The Good News more fully. 


And specific to the Gospels, I’ve never actively engaged in a side-by-side cross reference of texts, one to another, in any great detail.  To draw out themes and contrast or compare the stories of Jesus will be an interesting exercise.  Having only glanced at the primary text for the class, I know H.B. Sharman’s book, Records of the Life of Jesus, is one I’ll be adding to my own personal library.


I’m very much looking forward to the time ahead.  I hope it will be fruitful and transforming.  I expect it will be hard, but fun.  I pray it will be another ‘Lego piece’ in my formation as I continue to step out humbly and move forward bravely in obedience to God’s call of me.    


( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
Aug. 29th, 2008 10:21 pm (UTC)
Is that journaling for one hour straight!??! Like, one entry?!?! Like. Woah, my head is spinning just thinking about that prospect. Have a great semester Man!
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )