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Reading Scripture with Fresh Eyes in 2021

Fraser recently wrote a blog that was featured on the Praxis website here. He also talked on this topic in more detail in this sermon.

Reading Scripture with Fresh Eyes in 2021

“Hi, my name is Mike and I’d like to cancel my subscription to 2021. I have been using it for the last seven days, but it is really not to my liking, and it doesn’t match the advertising. So refund please.”

So goes a tweet by scholar Mike Bird as we start 2021. It’s not been a great start to the year, the goodbye to 2020 was not quite what we hoped for as we enter into lockdown number three. So we need to ask ourselves the question, again, how are we going to get through this.

I didn’t realise the full effect of the first lockdown on me, the deep weariness inside, until our week away in Mayo in August. There Kilcummin beach became a healing place for me, it gave me a cathartic experience of the ocean. It was as if it provided me a new rhythm, resetting my internal cadence to the lapping of the water, wave after wave. This lockdown could be tougher: with kids at home again, in the dark and cold, and third time around. We won’t do well if our rhythm is dictated by a frenetic balancing of work and home-schooling, or the sameness of a minimal social life, or by a diet of the daily covid numbers. We need a counter balance to the negative effects of lockdown.

Psalm 1 speaks of a man “whose delight is in the law of the Lord” becoming like “a tree planted by streams of water.” Herein is life. Water flows, it moves, we see life within it. And water provides nourishment; it feeds us, hydrates us, and brings us life. And this all produces fruit within us, now there is a thought for this season.

This is all a beautiful picture of the role of Scripture in our lives. It is no mere command to have a quiet time, or to knuckle down and try again at bible reading. It works by positive motivation, not duty, or threat. The first word of the Psalm, indeed the very first word of the whole book of Psalms, is “blessing” which means happiness. God wants us to be happy and meditation on Scripture is one way His blessing flows into our lives. We need this; we need it to counter balance the struggles of lockdown, we need it to give us life, and we need it so we can then be people who go and bless others.

Below is a list of 14 ways to read Scripture afresh in 2021.[i] Go and try one this week.

  1. Add a new translation to your bookshelf.
  2. Read Scripture out loud.
  3. Listen to Scripture while driving or walking.
  4. Read the Bible chronologically.
  5. Use a commentary, e.g. the short ‘For Everyone Commentary’ series
  6. Use Multimedia resources, e.g. the BibleProject’s videos
  7. Read a whole book in one sitting
  8. Use a Reader’s Bible, where there are no chapters and verses and it reads more like a novel
  9. Reflect on a Psalm a week.
  10. Read the parables of Jesus back to back.
  11. Write out Scripture.
  12. Read it Together, e.g. in families, or small groups
  13. Read it Slowly, e.g. Lectio Divina
  14. Use a Reading Plan, e.g. Youversion, lectio 365 app,

[i] The start of this list comes from an article by Traci Rhoades in Christianity Today magazine.


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