For most of my life I read Scripture like a text-book, seeking what information it could tell me about God and God’s relationship with creation. I learned stories of encounters by prophets and apostles, by sinners and saints. Even today, when I study a passage to prepare before writing a sermon, I delve into the details and nuances of each passage. I look at word usage including the meanings of named characters and consider why the Church has preserved particular details for two thousand years.
And as I reread familiar stories again and again I notice how familiar passage that I can almost recite word for word tell about me. Thus the Bible becomes a book that reads me. I wonder how am I like this character, or need to hear that counsel. Each time I open the Bible it shows parallels with my life and demonstrates why it remains near the top of best seller lists.
Sometimes when listening to a very familiar passage, especially one I have heard several times in close succession, I get caught up by the flow and sound of the words. My mind wanders to think of other things. Only by considering this third way of reading Scripture do I understand that the Church chose passages for their usefulness as liturgy in worship. This third way helps me appreciate why people who suffer from memory losses and other cognitive impairments can recite familiar passages along with me as I read them. In this third way of reading there is no longer a need to ask what did the author intend or how might it affect me. Instead Scripture reading becomes a key that opens my mind to God with us. God with us though ages past. God with me this day. God opening a way to a glorious future.
Your word is a lamp that gives light wherever I walk.
— Psalm 119:105 (CEV)