I am always looking for new ways of reading scripture. I love to read the Bible and have read the whole thing many times. But sometimes it starts sounding all the same. Read that, remember that, boring! The Bible is anything but boring and I want to be sure I’m reading it with attention and intent.
When I was a pastor, we had liturgists who would read the scripture every Sunday. One Sunday the liturgist was a teenager named Heidi. Heidi was very outgoing and you never knew what she would say or do. On the Sunday she was liturgist, the scripture was the genealogy from Genesis 5. I’m not sure why I had that particular scripture on that day. The sermon is long gone from everyone’s memory. But Heidi’s scripture reading lingers on and makes me laugh each time I think of it.
She started off well enough with Adam and Adam’s sons. Then it was as if she started really paying attention to what she was reading. She read Genesis 5:18: “Jared lived one hundred and sixty-two years, and begot Enoch.” and then she added, “Wow, he was really old to be a dad!” She read verse 22, “Enoch walked with God three hundred years, and had sons and daughters. 23 So all the days of Enoch were three hundred and sixty-five years. 24 And Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him.” She turned to me and said, “Didn’t he die? He walked with God – it doesn’t say that about the other people.”
By the time Heidi reached verse 27, “So all the days of Methuselah were nine hundred and sixty-nine years; and he died.” everyone was cracking up at her comments. None of us were disappointed by her comment on this verse, “That’s REALLY old!” It was the most humorous reading of Genesis 5 I’ve ever heard. But it taught me an important lesson. In reading scripture, we need to pay attention and try to hear it in new ways.
We can read scripture in new ways by trying a different translation or a paraphrase. Over the years I’ve read “The Message” and “The Cotton Patch Gospels.” We can watch a movie that makes us see a familiar Bible story in a different way: “The Passion of the Christ” or “Godspell.” If we approach our Bible reading as a chore or something that we already know, we won’t get much out of it. But reading scripture in new ways allows God to talk to us in new ways.
I will always be thankful and blessed by a teenager’s fresh reading of a “boring” genealogical passage in the Bible. When we read the Bible with fresh eyes and a willing spirit, we see God in new ways.