Traditionally Friends rejected the idea that the written scriptures are the “word of God” (see the talk given by Jack Smith “The Scriptures as Understood and Used by Conservative Friends” at our first Quaker Spring gathering). God has the capacity, however, to speak to us and transform us as we read, listen to, or reflect on biblical passages. Many Friends have had the opportunity to become acquainted with and moved by the Bible in fresh and unexpected ways at Quaker Spring.
There is an opportunity to read and reflect on the Bible together each morning at 9 before meeting for worship. We do this in different ways based on where people are feeling led during the week.
- We often use an approach of listening together to passages read out loud that one of us is drawn to without preamble or commentary (sometimes referred to as a “Meeting for Bible Reading”).
- Some days we spend time together exploring a particular passage that one of us feels led to bring to the group – sharing what God is saying to us now in response to the passage rather than having an intellectual discussion about it.
- And at times we have used “Faith & Play” to explore a biblical story with our children using role-playing and sharing.
Some biblical passages lifted up may be puzzling or disturbing. No one is expected to believe or respond to the Bible in the same way as others present.
Below is a description of what shape our bible times took at one of our gatherings:
“Meeting for Bible Reading”:
Isaiah 53 Prophecy: He (Christ) has borne our grief….
Psalm 139 O Lord, you know me thoroughly. I will praise you. You are everywhere I might go.
Isaiah 44: 1-8 I will pour water upon those who are thirsty. Fear not. There is no God but me.
Psalm 30 O Lord, I cried to you. You heard me and turned my mourning into dancing. I will give thanks to you forever.
Romans 11:33 – 12:8 O the depths of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! … We, being many with differing gifts, are one body in Christ.
Jonah 2 Jonah said, “The waters surrounded me, even to my soul, yet you brought up my life from corruption, O Lord my God. I will speak with the voice of thanksgiving.”
Job 3 I should have lain still and been quiet; then I would have been at rest. I was not safe nor was I quiet, and trouble came.
Micah 5:3 Prophecy: (Out of Bethlehem will come a man who is to be ruler in Israel, who has been in existence from the days of eternity.) And he will wait until the woman has labored through childbirth and then return to the children of Israel.
Isaiah 55 Whoever is thirsty, come to the water…. Seek the Lord while he may be found…. You shall go with joy and be led forth in peace.
Psalm 42 My soul thirsts for the living God….The Lord will command his loving kindness in the daytime, and in the night his song will be with me.
Sharing in response to:
Matthew 5:5-6 Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
“Meeting for Bible Reading”:
Luke 5:17-26 A crippled man is let down through the roof to Jesus and healed.
Luke 4:16-30 Jesus reads from Isaiah in the temple: The Lord has sent me to bring good news to the poor, to heal the broken-hearted….
Romans 12 Treat each other with brotherly love. Be patient in difficulties. Bless people who persecute you. Overcome evil with good.
Zephaniah 3:11-12 (In that day I will turn all the people to call upon the name of God.) Then you will not be ashamed of any of your deeds and all people will trust in God.
Acts 16:1-26 Paul travels in what is now western Turkey and Greece. He frees a slave woman from soothsaying for her masters, who then have Paul jailed. An earthquake frees Paul and the jailer is converted.
Isaiah 58:1-6 The “fast” God desires is not outward display but rather to loose the bands of wickedness and let the oppressed go free.
James 1:19-21 Let everyone be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger, and meekly receive the Word of God in your hearts.
Psalm 34:4-6 I sought the Lord and he heard me. He delivered me from all my fears.
Luke 1:26-39 God’s angel tells Mary that she will conceive a son to be called Jesus, and that her childless cousin Elizabeth will also have a baby.
Deuteronomy 24:5 For one year after a man has married he shall not go to war or be charged with any business but shall stay at home with his wife.
Job 40:4-5 42:1-4 and the next to last sentence of v.8 God said to Job, “Act like a man now. I will question you and you will answer.” Job said, “I know that you can do everything. I have talked about things I didn’t understand. Let me ask you questions.” And God said, “I will accept my servant, Job.”
Sharing in response to:
Matthew 5:1-4 When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying: Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
[or: “How blest are those who know their need of God.” NEB]
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
“Meeting for Bible Reading”:
Jeremiah 31:31-34 The days will come, said the Lord, when I will make a new covenant. I will put my law in the people’s hearts and forgive their sins. I will be their God and they will be my people.
Acts 10:9-45 Cornelius sent for Peter. As the messengers approached, Peter had a vision in which God showed him that regardless of the person’s identity, anyone who respects God and does what is right is accepted by God. Peter visited Cornelius and explained the good news about Jesus. The Holy Spirit came upon Cornelius and his household.
Lamentations 3 My strength and my hope perished, but God’s compassion fails not. His mercies are new every morning. I will hope in him.
2 Esdras 4 (found in the Apocrypha; a vision of the prophet Ezra, as summarized in Wikipedia) God’s ways cannot be understood by the human mind. Soon, however, the end would come, and God’s justice would be made manifest.
Revelation 4:1-11 The writer had a vision of a throne in heaven surrounded by four animals and 24 elders praising God.
Revelation 5:7-10 The vision continues, with the animals and elders playing harps and singing praise to Christ.
Isaiah 42 (This is the section of scripture that Jesus read in the temple at the beginning of his ministry. See second passage from Sunday.)
Revelations 22:16-17 I, Jesus, am the bright morning star. Let whoever is thirsty come and take the water of life freely.
Psalm 1 Blessed is the person who does not follow the counsel of the ungodly. That person shall be like a tree planted by the river, that brings forth fruit in season.
2 Timothy 3 Everyone who lives in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution….All Scripture is given by God for learning doctrine, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness.
Luke 1 Mary’s song upon learning that she would give birth: “My soul does magnify the Lord and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior….”; and Zechariah’s prophecy about his infant son, John: “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people….”
Luke 5:36-39 No one puts new wine in old wineskins, for the wine will burst them and be spilled. New wine must be put in new wineskins….
Psalm 121 I will lift up my eyes to the hills. Where does my help come from? My help comes from God, who made heaven and earth.
2 Timothy 1:3-7 I thank God that I remember you constantly in my prayers. I very much want to see you, that I may be filled with joy. For God has not given us the spirit of fear, but the spirit of power and of love and of a sound mind.
Numbers 14 The Israelites grumbled about Moses, saying they would have been better off if they’d stayed in Egypt. God was annoyed at their impatience and said he would disinherit them. But Moses pleaded that if God did so, the Egyptians would tell everyone that the Israelite’s God had failed. So God said he wouldn’t kill them, but that only those people who had trusted God would be allowed to enter the land that God had promised them.