We just started a new bible study at St. Paul. We are using Brian McLaren’s book: We Make the Road By Walking. FYI: It’s a really good book. We have read the first four chapters–we’re doing two chapters a session. Each chapter is quite short, about 3-4 pages, and the text is designed for small group use, or even for congregational use as an alternate lectionary. Last year, Brian McLaren spoke with our Synod rostered leaders; we found him compelling and congenial. His addresses included research on the life of the church in the 21st century, and some of his own experiments and responses to the changing religious landscape. He stressed, as all inspiring speakers do, the church’s engagement with scripture. He couldn’t say enough about the power of immersing ourselves in God’s Word. Of course, Luther said much the same; it’s a refrain down the centuries. The Word is alive! It’s very near us, on our lips, and on our hearts. I had purchased the book last year, and had been waiting for a good way to use it at St. Paul. The book follows the structure of the church year, in quarters; if one begins in the fall with the first quarter, by the time you finish those chapters; the second quarter on the life of Jesus starts about the time we would start Advent. McLaren starts at the very beginning with the two Genesis creation stories, and pairs them with relevant Gospels, as well as a Psalm. So far we’ve covered creation, our first parents and their adventures in the Garden of Eden, and Jesus’ direction to his disciples: don’t be anxious–Consider the birds, the lilies of the field. We’ve read the praise of Wisdom in Proverbs 8, and the first chapter of the Gospel according to John, with its hymn to the Word/Logos present at creation. We’ve read a story of Jesus healing on the Sabbath, and Jesus as the Tree of Life. McLaren’s goal is to familiarize us all with the great biblical story of God’s mighty loving acts from creation to resurrection, and our stories within that great story. I particularly like the way McLaren structures his readings, where each comments on the other. It’s skillfully done, and he’s a good writer–enough too chew on in each chapter, but not too much. I told the class I would blog each week, for people to keep up. But each chapter can stand alone as a bible study, so feel free to drop in, and come and go. We’ll be at this for awhile, and you are all invited. Currently, we meet at 8:00 a.m. in the Church Library; bring your own coffee as the Undercroft is in use.
My daughter, Pastor Amy Beveridge, of Bethel Lutheran Church in Templeton, CA is using this book with her congregation as her lectionary this year. She’s started a blog site that includes the sermons she’s giving using Brian McLaren’s book. She’s also included art work, and some other resources. If you are interested in McLaren, and you can’t come to the bible study, she said I could post the link to her site here: http://thegodjournals.com/sermons-3 You can scroll down through her sermons to find the early chapters and see what someone else is saying about these if you are interested. She advises people before listening:
“Three Things to Know Before Listening
1) These sermons were recorded live with my congregation. I am in interactive and intuitive leader. 2) I don’t ask you to agree with me. I don’t preach for people to agree with me. I do ask for you to be open and reflective and willing to be challenged. 3) I am a pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America. I preach from the pulpit out of this tradition — grace as the bottom line. But I have to say: my church is not responsible for what I say.” Amy Beveridge. http://thegodjournals.com/