Proclaiming the Good News of God in Christ

Bible Challenge

Bible Challenge Week 52 December 30th – January 5th

12ba4fb9-5a18-4263-b078-33c47ce543e3Weekly Word from Bishop Barker for Week 52
December 30th-January 5th

We finish our Bishop’s Bible Challenge this week. If you have read through the year in order, and completed all the readings, Saint Luke will have the last word. In the story remembered in Luke 9, Jesus raises the beloved daughter of two distraught parents from the dead, and in the final words of the story, commands those amazed and grateful parents, “to tell no one what has happened.” The so-called “Messianic secret” is a theme sprinkled through some of the Gospel accounts. Scholars still debate about why, during his life on earth, Jesus wanted his followers to keep his power and identity a secret.

You and I are given no such prohibition. Quite the opposite in fact. We have Good News to share with all our friends and neighbors. Good News which you and I may have a fuller appreciation of now that we have read together the entirely of the Christian sacred story. We may now have a deeper appreciation of the wonder of Jesus’ own religious heritage. We may now have a better sense of the story of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. We may now have the story of the early Church much more clearly set in our minds.

I hope you have been blessed, as I have, by this challenge. I admit to starting out as a skeptic – I figured the read would be too difficult (and too boring!) to stay with. While I’ll admit that some days were tough, the larger tale is that I quickly came to appreciate starting my day with Bible reading, and I am proud today that I managed to complete this task. Though I have read the entire Bible through a number of times, I still learned more than I might have imagined was possible.

In this new year I plan to continue starting my day with daily Bible reading. Rather than repeat a read-thru of the whole Bible, I’ll be using our lectionary for the Daily Office, and reading the chapters appointed by the Episcopal Church for daily use. I encourage you to continue with daily Bible reading as well. Even on the days when I was confounded by what we encountered in scripture, I knew that I was still working with “the Word of the Lord” and that God was pleased with my efforts.

Thank you for joining in this challenge. Well done! I’d love to hear your thoughts about our work and about what you might do next to maintain this discipline in your lives. Write me at: sbarker@episcopal-ne.org.

Congratulations again on completing the Bishop’s Bible Challenge!

Faithfully Yours in Christ –

+ Bishop Barker

 

This week’s readings:

Day 358  – Monday, December 30, 2013
– Zechariah 12, Psalm 141, Luke 3
Day 359  – Tuesday, December 31, 2013
– Zechariah 13, Psalm 142, Luke 4
Day 360  – Wednesday, January 1, 2014
– Zechariah 14, Psalm 143, Luke 5
Day 361  – Thursday, January 2, 2014
– Malachi 1, Psalm 144, Luke 6
Day 362  – Friday, January 3, 2014
– Malachi 2, Psalm 145-146, Luke 7
Day 363  – Saturday, January 4, 2014
– Malachi 3, Psalm 147-148, Luke 8
Day 364  – Sunday, January 5, 2014 – Malachi 4, Psalm 149-150, Luke 9

DAY 365:  REJOICE!  You have completed The 2013 Bible Challenge!

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Bible Challenge Week 51 December 23rd-29th

12ba4fb9-5a18-4263-b078-33c47ce543e3Weekly Word from Bishop Barker for Week 51
December 23rd-29th

This Christmas week we will read from the Old Testament Book of Zechariah and from the Book of Psalms, numbers 135 through 140. In the New Testament, we will complete Mark’s Gospel and begin reading the Gospel According to Saint Luke.

I wonder…

– Zechariah’s prophetic vision includes imagery of a humble and peaceful messiah yet to come. For Christians, that hope is realized this week with the birth of the baby Jesus. Where do you see the Holy One in innocence and humility during this Christmas season?

– There are no more beloved hymns in our Church than the ones we will sing on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning. Here is a beautiful rendition of, “O Little Town of Bethlehem,” from the King’s College service of Lessons & Carols. Which is your family’s favorite Christmas hymn?

You Tube Link – “O Little Town of Bethlehem”

– There is one week left in our Bible Challenge. As we move towards the end of our journey, what feels like the most important thing you have learned over this year of reading together? Do you believe the Bible Challenge will change your life in any way? I’d love to hear your thoughts at: sbarker@episcopal-ne.org.

Merry Christmas beloved friends!
May each and everyone one of us be blessed by the Word this week!
In love and Faith –

+ Bishop Barker

 

This week’s readings:

Day 351  – Monday, December 23, 2013
– Zechariah 3-4, Psalm 135, Mark 13
Day 352  – Tuesday, December 24, 2013
– Zechariah 5-6, Psalm 136, Mark 14
Day 353  – Wednesday, December 25, 2013
– Zechariah 7-8, Psalm 137, Mark 15
Day 354  – Thursday, December 26, 2013
– Zechariah 9, Psalm 138, Mark 16
Day 355  – Friday, December 27, 2013
– Zechariah 10, Psalm 139, Luke 1
Day 356  – Saturday, December 28, 2013
– Zechariah 11, Psalm 140, Luke 2
Day 357  – Sunday, December 29, 2013 – Enjoy hearing the Scriptures read aloud in church

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Bible Challenge Week 50 December 16th-22nd

12ba4fb9-5a18-4263-b078-33c47ce543e3Weekly Word from Bishop Barker for Week 50
December 16th-22nd

We will continue reading from the Old Testament this week by finishing the books of Habakkuk, Zephaniah and Haggai. At week’s end we will begin reading the book of Zechariah. We will also read Psalms 129 through 134. In the New Testament we will continue reading the Gospel According to Saint Mark.

I wonder…

– God speaks to us through the prophet Zephaniah this week. In the midst of our Advent preparations for Christmas, we hear a clear command from the Lord that resonates with the work of this season: “Be silent before the Lord God! For the day of the Lord is at hand.” (Zeph 1:7.) Can you take the time to find some meaningful silence today, as a simple affirmative answer to the voice of the holy one?

– On Friday we will read Psalm 133, a resounding call for unity between brothers and sisters in the faith community. As the feast of Christ’s nativity approaches, what do you need to accomplish in your life by “preparing the way” through some work of forgiveness, reconciliation or community building?

– In the Gospel of Mark this week, Jesus asks his disciples the question of the ages: “Who do you say that I am?” (Mk 8:29.) There are over 200 names and titles for the Christ in the Bible and in our ancient Christian tradition, from “the rock” to “the Lamb of God.” Who do you say Jesus is?

May you prepare well for the coming celebration of Christ’s incarnation!
May each and everyone one of us be blessed by the Word this week!
In love and Faith –

+ Bishop Barker

 

This week’s readings:

Day 344  – Monday, December 16, 2013
– Habakkuk 3, Psalm 129, Mark 7
Day 345  – Tuesday, December 17, 2013
– Zephaniah 1, Psalm 130, Mark 8
Day 346  – Wednesday, December 18, 2013
– Zephaniah 2, Psalm 131, Mark 9
Day 347  – Thursday, December 19, 2013
– Zephaniah 3, Psalm 132, Mark 10
Day 348  – Friday, December 20, 2013
– Haggai 1-2, Psalm 133, Mark 11
Day 349  – Saturday, December 21, 2013
– Zechariah 1-2, Psalm 134, Mark 12
Day 350  – Sunday, December 22, 2013 – Enjoy hearing the Scriptures read aloud in church

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Bible Challenge Week 49 December 9th-15th

12ba4fb9-5a18-4263-b078-33c47ce543e3Weekly Word from Bishop Barker for Week 48
December 9th-15th

This week in the Hebrew scriptures we will finish the Books of Micah and Nahum, and begin the Book of Habakkuk. We will also read Psalms 123 through 128. In the New Testament we will begin re-reading the Gospel According to Saint Mark – the last New Testament Book we will cover in the Bible Challenge!

I wonder…

– The writer of the short Book of Nahum speaks to the historical event of the downfall of the Assyrian empire, interpreting that event as an example of God’s judgment on a villainous nation (including the great city of Nineveh.) Are there ways in which our nation is out of sync with God’s hopes for us as a country? Do you believe God acts in this here and now to punish wayward states?

– The opening lines of Psalm 127 are used in our Episcopal rite for the “Blessing of a New Home.” Have you ever hosted or attended a house blessing? Would it be a meaningful celebration for your family to work with your parish priest and bless your home at the beginning of the new year?

– The Gospel of Mark – which we begin re-reading this week – is sometimes compared to a newspaper story for its brevity and plain language. If you had to tell the whole story of Jesus to someone in two minutes or less, what would you say?

May you prepare well for the coming celebration of Christ’s incarnation!
May each and everyone one of us be blessed by the Word this week!

 

 

Please consider inviting a friend to join us in our read.

May each and everyone one of us be blessed by the Word this week!

 

In love and Faith –

+ Bishop Barker

 

This week’s readings:

Day 337  – Monday, December 9, 2013
– Micah 7, Psalm 123, Mark 1
Day 338  – Tuesday, December 10, 2013
– Nahum 1, Psalm 124, Mark 2
Day 339  – Wednesday, December 11, 2013
– Nahum 2, Psalm 125, Mark 3
Day 340  – Thursday, December 12, 2013
– Nahum 3, Psalm 126, Mark 4
Day 341  – Friday, December 13, 2013
– Habakkuk 1, Psalm 127, Mark 5
Day 342  – Saturday, December 14, 2013
– Habakkuk 2, Psalm 128, Mark 6
Day 343  – Sunday, December 15, 2013 – Enjoy hearing the Scriptures read aloud in church

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Bible Challenge Week 48 December 2nd – 8th

12ba4fb9-5a18-4263-b078-33c47ce543e3Weekly Word from Bishop Barker for Week 48
December 2nd – 8th

This week in the Hebrew scriptures we will read most of the Book of Micah.  We will also complete Psalm 119 and read up through Psalm 122. In the New Testament we will finish reading the Gospel According to Saint Matthew.

 

I wonder…

 

– The Book of Micah contains a prophetic reference of great significance to followers of Jesus.  At Micah 5:21, the prophet looks for the coming of a great ruler to be born from the little town of Bethlehem.  What are you doing in this season of Advent to ready yourself for the celebration of that holy birth?

 

– Psalm 121, with it’s image of a beleaguered psalmist looking towards the hills on the horizon for God’s presence and God’s help, is well beloved and often read for comfort at funerals.  Might this be the time for you to make some plans for your own funeral?  Leaving your survivors with clear directions for that work is an utterly gracious gift!

 

– Strangely, we read of Jesus’ resurrection in Saint Matthew this week, even as we “prepare the way” in the chill of December.  In what ways is the “fear and great joy” of the women at the empty tomb an echo of the experience of the great Advent characters like the Virgin Mary or John the Baptist?

 

 

Please consider inviting a friend to join us in our read.

May each and everyone one of us be blessed by the Word this week!

 

In love and Faith –

+ Bishop Barker

 

This week’s readings:

Day 330  – Monday, December 2, 2013
– Micah 1, Psalm 119:73-112, Matthew 23
Day 331  – Tuesday, December 3, 2013
– Micah 2, Psalm 119:113-144, Matthew 24
Day 332  – Wednesday, December 4, 2013
– Micah 3, Psalm 119:145-176, Matthew 25
Day 333  – Thursday, December 5, 2013
– Micah 4, Psalm 120, Matthew 26
Day 334  – Friday, December 6, 2013
– Micah 5, Psalm 121, Matthew 27
Day 335  – Saturday, December 7, 2013
– Micah 6, Psalm 122, Matthew 28
Day 336  – Sunday, December 8, 2013 – Enjoy hearing the Scriptures read aloud in church

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Bible Challenge Week 47 November 25th – December 1st

12ba4fb9-5a18-4263-b078-33c47ce543e3Weekly Word from Bishop Barker for Week 47
November 25th – December 1st

This week in the Hebrew scriptures we will finish reading the Book of Amos, and quickly complete both Obadiah and Jonah. We will also read Psalms 115 up through the first half of Psalm 119. In the New Testament we will read chapters 17-22 in the Gospel According to Saint Matthew.

I wonder…

– On Wednesday through Saturday we will read through the entire book of Jonah. This is a favorite OT text, both because of the grand story of a fish that swallows a man whole and because most people of faith resonate with a tale in which God asks of a person more than they feel ready to give. What is God asking you to offer up – right now – that causes you to back away from God?

– Also on Wednesday, we will read Matthew, chapter 19. Here is some of the clearest exposition of Jesus’ teaching about human beings and their relationship with money. What worldly good do you possess that it would be extremely difficult for you to give away? How might you loosen your grip on that item in order to rely more fully upon Christ as your strength, comfort and salvation?

– This Thursday is Thanksgiving Day (an excellent day to catch up on your Bible reading if you have fallen a bit behind!) Might you use portions of today’s assigned Psalm as a table grace for your holiday meal today? (e.g. Psalm 118: 19-29.)

 

 

Please consider inviting a friend to join us in our read.

May each and everyone one of us be blessed by the Word this week!

 

In love and Faith –

+ Bishop Barker

 

This week’s readings:

Day 323  – Monday, November 25, 2013
– Amos 9, Psalm 115, Matthew 17
Day 324  – Tuesday, November 26, 2013
– Obadiah, Psalm 116, Matthew 18
Day 325  – Wednesday, November 27 2013
– Jonah 1, Psalm 117, Matthew 19
Day 326  – Thursday, November 28, 2013
– Jonah 2, Psalm 118, Matthew 20
Day 327  – Friday, November 29, 2013
– Jonah 3, Psalm 119:1-32, Matthew 21
Day 328  – Saturday, November 30, 2013
– Jonah 4, Psalm 119:33-72, Matthew 22
Day 329  – Sunday, December 1, 2013 – Enjoy hearing the Scriptures read aloud in church

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Bible Challenge Week 46 November 18th-24th

12ba4fb9-5a18-4263-b078-33c47ce543e3Weekly Word from Bishop Barker for Week 45
November 11th-17th

This week in the Hebrew scriptures we will read from the Book of Amos as well as from Psalms 109-114. In the New Testament we will continue reading on in the Gospel According to Saint Matthew.

I wonder…

– At the beginning of our week (Amos, Chapter 3 vv. 1-8), we hear an echo of the wisdom teachings we read from in Proverbs and Ecclesiastes, in a passage which culminates with this resounding question, “The Lord God has spoken; who can but prophesy?”

Is there injustice, sadness or sin evident in your experience right now that calls out for a prophetic word or action? Could it be that God is calling you to prophesy?

– On Tuesday we’ll read Psalm 110. Christians have long taken this psalm as a prophetic text because of it’s celebration of a particularly powerful, mighty and just monarch. What is your favorite religious song or hymn? What message does it contain about the person of Jesus and who he is for you?

– On Wednesday, we will read Saint Matthew’s account of the parable of the sower as an introduction to several parables about the kingdom of heaven. Where in your life do you experience a real foretaste of God’s heavenly kingdom? Can you spend more time this week with the people – or in the places – that bear that gift to you?

 

 

Please consider inviting a friend to join us in our read.

May each and everyone one of us be blessed by the Word this week!

 

In love and Faith –

+ Bishop Barker

 

This week’s readings:

Day 316  – Monday, November 18, 2013
– Amos 3, Psalm 109, Matthew 11
Day 317  – Tuesday, November 19, 2013
– Amos 4, Psalm 110, Matthew 12
Day 318  – Wednesday, November 20 2013
– Amos 5, Psalm 111, Matthew 13
Day 319  – Thursday, November 21, 2013
– Amos 6, Psalm 112, Matthew 14
Day 320  – Friday, November 22, 2013
– Amos 7, Psalm 113, Matthew 15
Day 321  – Saturday, November 23, 2013
– Amos 8, Psalm 114, Matthew 16
Day 322  – Sunday, November 24, 2013 – Enjoy hearing the Scriptures read aloud in church

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Bible Challenge Week 45 November 11th-17th

12ba4fb9-5a18-4263-b078-33c47ce543e3Weekly Word from Bishop Barker for Week 45
November 11th-17th

This week in the Hebrew scriptures we will finish the Books of Hosea and Joel and will take up the Book of Amos. We will additionally read Psalms 103 through 108. In the New Testament we will continue reading on in the Gospel According to Saint Matthew.

I wonder…

– The prophet Amos is said to have been tasked with, “preaching harsh words in a smooth season.” Are you in a smooth and bumpy season of life just now? If all seems well, how might God be offering a word to afflict you in your comfort this week?

– On Monday we’ll read Psalm 103 again. Here is a fun rendition of this Psalm as adapted by Stephen Schwartz in the musical, Godspell. Youtube link

– At Matthew 5:17 , Jesus warns his followers that he is not about abolishing the ancient laws of his own religious tradition. “I have come not to abolish them but to fulfill them,” the Lord says. How do you decide which biblical laws to keep and which to reject? Are you selective about the rules of Christian orthodoxy as well, or do you strive to always live by the WWJD Credo?

 

 

Please consider inviting a friend to join us in our read.

May each and everyone one of us be blessed by the Word this week!

 

In love and Faith –

+ Bishop Barker

 

This week’s readings:

Day 309  – Monday, November 11, 2013
– Hosea 11-12, Psalm 103, Matthew 5
Day 310  – Tuesday, November 12, 2013
– Hosea 13-14, Psalm 104, Matthew 6
Day 311  – Wednesday, November 13 2013
– Joel 1-2, Psalm 105, Matthew 7
Day 312  – Thursday, November 14, 2013
– Joel 3, Psalm 106, Matthew 8
Day 313  – Friday, November 15, 2013
– Amos 1, Psalm 107, Matthew 9
Day 314  – Saturday, November 16, 2013
– Amos 2, Psalm 108, Matthew 10
Day 315  – Sunday, November 17, 2013 – Enjoy hearing the Scriptures read aloud in church

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Bible Challenge Week 44 November 4th-November 10th

12ba4fb9-5a18-4263-b078-33c47ce543e3Weekly Word from Bishop Barker for Week 44
November 4th-November 10th

This week in the Hebrew scriptures we will finish the Book of Daniel and take up the book of Hosea. We will additionally read Psalms 97 through 102. In the New Testament we will read the final chapters of the Book of Revelation and begin re-reading the four Gospels starting with Matthew chapters 1-4.

 

I wonder…

 

– Chapter 6 v. 6 of Hosea contains a familiar biblical trope in God’s voice: “I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.” What are the modern day equivalents of empty temple sacrifices? To whom are you called to show more love and mercy this week?

 

– We’ll read Psalm 100 together on Thursday. Does this one seem familiar? You might check out the beautiful translation known as the Jubilate (“be joyful”) found in Rite One Morning Prayer on p. 45 in your Book of Common Prayer.

 

– This week we will finish reading the entire New Testament! Will you offer a prayer of thanksgiving today for the treasure of the word of the Lord that is our Holy Bible? As you begin re-reading the Gospels to stay with the Bible Challenge, might you consider using a highlighter this time through, to note your favorite biblical passages?

 

 

Please consider inviting a friend to join us in our read.

May each and everyone one of us be blessed by the Word this week!

 

In love and Faith –

+ Bishop Barker

 

This week’s readings:

Day 302  – Monday, November 4, 2013
– Daniel 11-12, Psalm 97, Revelation 21
Day 303  – Tuesday, November 5, 2013
– Hosea 1-2, Psalm 98, Revelation 22
Day 304  – Wednesday, November 6 2013
– Hosea 3-4, Psalm 99, Matthew 1
Day 305  – Thursday, November 7, 2013
– Hosea 5-6, Psalm 100, Matthew 2
Day 306  – Friday, November 8, 2013
– Hosea 7-8, Psalm 101, Matthew 3
Day 307  – Saturday, November 9, 2013
– Hosea 9-10, Psalm 102, Matthew 4
Day 308  – Sunday, November 10, 2013 – Enjoy hearing the Scriptures read aloud in church

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Bible Challenge Week 43 October 28th-November 3rd

12ba4fb9-5a18-4263-b078-33c47ce543e3Weekly Word from Bishop Barker for Week 43
October 28th-November 3rd

This week in the Hebrew scriptures we will finish the Book of Ezekiel and take up the Book of Daniel.  We will additionally read Psalms 91 through 96.  In the New Testament we will read chapters 15 through 20 of the Book of Revelation.

I wonder…

 

– The Book of Daniel is thought to be the latest book of the Old Testament.  Writing during a time of great upheaval and challenge for the Hebrew people, the author frames then current events as predictors of the consummation of human history, and God’s ultimate victory over every enemy.  Do you believe the extraordinary challenges of the time in which we live point towards the end of an age, or are our struggles just the latest chapter for humankind?

 

– You can’t help but sing psalm 91 – which has become perhaps the most well-known modern praise-song in the western church.  (It’s Hymn 810 in our supplemental hymnal, Wonder, Love & Praise.)  Here’s a link to an earnest offering of this popular tune: Hymn 810 video

 

– At the end of this week, we will read chapter 20 of the Book of Revelation, the beginning of the end of this apocalyptic account.  It is often said that at the end of the Bible, “God wins.”  Christians are not dualists who believe in an eternal battle between two great powers, one good and one evil.  We rather believe in one loving God, who in time, will welcome all creation back to home.  Where is our loving God “winning” in your life right now?

Please consider inviting a friend to join us in our read.

May each and everyone one of us be blessed by the Word this week!

 

In love and Faith –

+ Bishop Barker

 

This week’s readings:

Day 295  – Monday, October 28, 2013
– Ezekiel 47-48, Psalm 91, Revelation 15
Day 296  – Tuesday, October 29, 2013
– Daniel 1-2, Psalm 92, Revelation 16
Day 298  – Wednesday, October 30 2013
– Daniel 3-4, Psalm 93, Revelation 17
Day 299  – Thursday, October 31, 2013
– Daniel 5-6, Psalm 94, Revelation 18
Day 300  – Friday, November 1, 2013
– Daniel 7-8, Psalm 95, Revelation 19
Day 301  – Saturday, November 2, 2013
– Daniel 9-10, Psalm 96, Revelation 20
Day 302  – Sunday, November 3, 2013 – Enjoy hearing the Scriptures read aloud in church

Here is the Bible Challenge Archive

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