Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Read the Bible Before Going to Church

Nehemiah 8:8-11
One of the ways that we focus our attention on the Lord each Sunday is by reading ahead of time some of the Scriptures that will be read in our church that day. It increases the odds that we'll remember those readings for more than 30 seconds after we leave the church and we'll be able to internalize them more fully.
Does your church use a lectionary? A basic online search brought up this link to the Revised Common Lectionary. Catholics have the readings posted for every day of the year here. Often a church bulletin will include the readings or the theme for the upcoming week so attendees can prepare ahead of time. If there isn't a way to know ahead of time what the reading(s) will be, I've often found that just reading something from Scripture in the morning before leaving for church prepares me to be more attentive to whatever is read aloud while I'm there.
I'm a visual learner so I'm more likely to remember what is being read if I can either read along or read by myself beforehand. So my Bible study on Sunday mornings usually begins with a review of the passages that will be read in church later that morning. While at breakfast as a family we read the passages again so our daughters can hear them and prepare. It took awhile for them to make the connection: for several weeks our oldest tugged excitedly on my skirt during the middle of Mass to tell me that the priest was reading the same passage I had already read aloud at breakfast! I think she understands now that the similarity is intentional. When I don't have easy access to the readings beforehand I like to be at church with a few minutes to spare. Often there is a book available with the readings in it so I can look them up and quietly read them before Mass begins.
Even when what I read from the Bible doesn't match up with what is read aloud at church I still benefit more from the readings at church if I've read something from Scripture beforehand. It puts me in the right mindset spiritually. By doing so I've told my brain to focus on things that are above (Col 3:1) and can therefore internalize all Scripture more readily. That doesn't mean my experience at church is always deeply moving, but it brings the experience one step up, closer to Christ.
Linked to Works for Me Wednesday and Modest Monday

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