Six weeks ago, I sat down to write in this space about getting ready to read daily scripture together for the season of the Epiphany in “The Good Book Club.” While I was pretty clear with myself that I didn’t think it would be an easy practice to take on reading daily scripture together, I was hopeful. And, in fact, it has been a hope-sustaining and lovely time.
By the numbers: at about a week away from the end (50 days) we are at day 26. So just over 50%. There were weeks we didn’t miss a day, and probably there were times we skipped four in a row. An average of every other day seems just fine to me.
On a practical level: the times we made it work the best were when we ate dinner all together and read at the table. I can think of several times when someone was rushing off to basketball practice or a meeting. Just sitting together at the table for any length of time was the miracle of the day, and reading scripture on top of it would have just been more than we could ask.
Our kids generally attend church at my husband’s congregation, where their Sunday school and confirmation classes are reading John as well, so that support helped us when our energy flagged. Not a surprise—community matters! Whatever we each thought of the practice at any given time, knowing that other kids and other parents were doing the same thing was definitely a help for us all. The competition for the Sunday school class with the highest participation earning a party didn’t hurt either.
Worth remembering: the sabbath was made for humankind, not humankind for the sabbath. At some point it became clear that very long, often obscure texts read aloud were hard on the reader as well as the listener. So, we found ways to make the practice work for us. We adopted a practice where one person took the day and chose a shorter portion to read aloud, who then shared what caught their attention about it. One of my hopes for this time together was to listen in on my kids’ own interior journeys, and it was very cool to hear what they chose. Yes, sometimes the answer was just a shrug, but there were times of real connection, too. On one of my days to choose my son repeated almost word for word the invitation to communion at my husband’s church, that the altar is the Lord’s table and not our own. “Like, um, everyone’s welcome,” he said. If he learns nothing else from church, ever, let it be that everyone is loved by God and that we know that in sacrament and scripture.
We started this project assured it would not last forever, and so my hope is that we will continue through Lent (which should, at this rate, land us at the resurrection stories by Easter). Like my own spiritual disciplines, there are times when it is more spiritual, and there are times when it is more discipline. For this season together, as for all things given us by God, our most important prayer is “thank you.”