I know it’s a little early to be talking about Christmas, but bear with me for a moment. I’ve been writing the content for this year’s Christmas Production [December 21 & 22 - save the date!] and the theme we want to explore is “wonder.” Whether it will be the first time someone is hearing the nativity story, or the hundredth, I want to encourage us to view Christmas with renewed wonder.
We know the saying “Familiarity breeds contempt.” But I think more often than not, familiarity actually breeds indifference. Sometimes we get so used to something that it loses its luster. We no longer appreciate the unique beauty that it holds.
I think the same can be said of reading Scripture. Maybe we’ve been on our faith journey a long time and are now stuck on autopilot. Maybe we’re in a seasonal slump. Maybe our Bible reading times have become more of a thing to check-off our To-Do list. Whatever the reason may be, there are times when we can just go through the motions when reading the Bible.
Perhaps we need a new approach. What are the ways we can look at scripture with fresh wonder?
- Version 2.0
One of the easiest ways is to read some passages in a version of the Bible you’re not used to. If you’re an NIV guy like me, try ESV or NLT, or if you’re really feeling daring, give the old school KJV a try. Have some fun and pick a version at random! Read two (or more) versions side-by-side and compare the language uses. The slight changes in phrases and nuances in their translations could illuminate additional aspects of the passage.
- Non-Native Tongue
I was scrolling through my YouVersion feed the other day when I noticed a highlighted passage from Psalms. The passage stood out because it was in Afrikaans. It’s been a long time since I’ve read or spoken Afrikaans, so I tried to translate it -- I didn’t know that passage off by heart -- and in the end I had to look up a lot of the translation. But as I engaged with it, I was fascinated by how fun it was for me to read the Bible in this way. It sort of blew my mind, actually. What struck me the most was that in all my years growing up learning Afrikaans, I never once thought about reading the Bible in Afrikaans!
So, if you’re bilingual, alternate which languages you read and then try your own translations. Or if you’re learning a new language, a fun exercise could be to read Bible passages that you know and then practice the translation. You’re learning a new language and spending time in scripture - two birds with one (non-Rosetta) stone!
- Listen Up!
I’m sure by now you must’ve encountered some audio recording of the scriptures - YouVersion or Dwell are just two apps that have them ready to go! Try listening to the Bible instead of reading it. It’s very soothing - like a lullaby to calm a busy day. It can even be read to you while you commute. Bonus points for listening to two different versions with different voice narrators (or in another language)!
I’m having fun with all of this, but the point is that wherever you are in your Scripture reading journey, and whatever approach you want to take -- keep trying. Keep finding ways of engaging the scriptures with new eyes, with an attitude that keeps us attentive to the wonder of the Word.
Psalm 17:5-6 (AFR)
Ek roep U aan, want U verhoor my, o God!
Neig u oor tot my, luister na my woord!
Maak u gunsbewyse wonderbaar, o verlosser van die wat by u regterhand skuil vir teëstanders!