Thursday, September 1, 2016

My reflections on the Daily Texts

Today I'll be starting a new routine: a brief post about my reflections on daily scripture reading. I've started working with a group of ELCA church leaders who are trying together to create a set of small groups that encourage growth in discipleship. One of the pieces of those groups will be reading the Bible each day and spending a little time in reflection and prayer. The people initiating the groups will post their reflections online, as a way to hold ourselves accountable; encourage other people to keep up with the habit; model a daily discipline of looking for God in our ordinary lives; and offer a starting point for discussion.

The ELCA leaders group decided to use the Moravian Daily Texts, which you can find at http://www.moravian.org/faith-a-congregations/moravian-daily-texts/subscribe-to-the-daily-texts (with an option to receive them in email each morning, and another option to buy the book version) or at http://www.mountcarmelministries.com/daily-texts-devotionals (with a slightly different book version available; this is the one I've used with seminary colleagues and congregations in the past, and still use myself). Each day, there is an Old Testament passage, a New Testament passage, and a short prayer. There are also two annual reading plans, one that gives daily readings that will take you through the whole Bible in a year, and another that covers the Psalms in one year but slows down a bit to take two years to get through the whole Bible. Thousands of Christians around the world use these texts every day, so you get a feeling of community and support as you read.

Because I was so familiar with the Daily Texts, I was happy that they were chosen for our group. I have a daily scripture-and-prayer routine that has worked well for me, and I was comfortable continuing with that. But I've struggled with the posting piece of the routine! As a pastor, there are so many things that I do for other people that I've come to look at my morning scripture-and-prayer time as my time, something I do for my own connection with God, a time of rest and refreshment and openness that's just for me. I tried the daily posting for about two weeks, but found that it was making me feel that I had lost that time that I need; I was using it instead to get ready for one more piece of life that was for the benefit of someone else. I stopped the posting in order to protect the time.

But later, I came to see it differently. As the group progressed, and we talked about the small-group goal of helping others grow as disciples of Jesus, we saw that there is a need for people to see how we ourselves grow as disciples. Our ways of doing things are the most visible, accessible ways available to others. We certainly aren't perfect, and our ways shouldn't become sacred things carved in stone. But people need to see something to begin with, try out, learn from, and expand on, as they find their own unique ways to connect with God.

This insight helped me see the total reading-praying-and-posting practice more completely. It's not an either-or (either completely for me or completely for others) but a both-and (for both me and others). And I think I can do that. I can let it be my time with God, letting go of expectations of what will come out of it that might be relevant to anybody else. And I can comment on it afterward, getting in the habit of sharing, as if somebody asked, "So, how did it go today?"

So today my time with God changes, and my habit of using this blog changes. If you're following along, you're welcome to reflect with me! And if you'd like to check out the Daily Texts for yourself, I'd be glad to help you do that. I'll try to tag these posts with the "Daily Texts" tag, and anything else I write here will be tagged differently, so you can look for what you want. Thanks for reading.

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