Wesley Bible: A Study Guide
This study guide offers selected journeys of Hope, journeys of Faith, and journeys in Love-inspired Action from the Bible. A key metaphor I have used in this study guide is a journey. A journey with connectives such as "turning points," epiphanies, moments of grace, road marks, milestones, communal stories and individual stories on the way.
These Bible Studies are written on behalf of women, and seen through the eyes of women primarily. This is in view of the particular call of the United Methodist Women to be in mission with women, children, and youth. The Word of God still speaks to us in distinct ways as it did to our forebears, though the context of mission has changed over the years.
A TWIN METHOD OF READING THE WORD OF GOD:
For each of the reading of the selected passages from the Bible, a twin method of reading the Scripture is suggested:
Internalizing the Word of God:
Te first method suggested is called divine reading, lectio divina, which helps the reader internalize the word of God.
- Take a bite. Read the Scripture passage assigned in the study guide slowly.
- Then chew on it. Ponder the word. Stay with the words that strike a chord in you.
- Savor the essence of it. Talk with God about what makes these words relevant to you.
- The Word is digested and becomes part of you. Pray to God asking God's will for your life.
This way of reading enables us to internalize the word of God.
Contextualizing the Word of God:
For engagement in mission today, the word of God has to be both internalized and contextualized. Therefore, let us intertwine lectio divina with another method known as FAMA, a popular method used in teaching literacy at grassroots level.
The FAMA method is used in the United Methodist Women-supported Bible Women Training in teaching literacy in multiple ways such as Micro-Credit & literacy, Peace & Literacy, Health & Literacy, Human Rights and Literacy, etc., The Bible Study method below is adapted from the Pro-Literacy model.
- What do you see in this story?
- Where is this story taking place in the story?
What do you think is happening?
(More questions can be framed that draw on the realities in the story which allow the readers to sharpen their observation and enter the story and the discussion easily)
- How do you think the persons in the story are feeling? Are there different feelings seen among different persons in the story?
Have you ever felt like one of them or some of them?
(Questions that refer to personal experiences and the shared experiences from their own contexts)
- What are the key concepts in the story?
- Do you see anyone or a community in struggle?
- What are the struggles or challenges? (Questions that help the readers to move into the next level of ideas, values, and key thoughts in the story)
- Who are the persons at the margins?
- What is the relevance of this story in your life? In your community?
- What are the actions that you as an individual and your community as a whole can take in order to address the needs and issues raised?
What are the steps to undertake these actions?
(In other words, does your reading of the Bible just maintain the status quo, or bring about transformation within you and around you? Does it make a difference?)
Before starting the first Bible Study in this study guide, please use the Purpose of the United Methodist Women and the litany based on it.
Before beginning each of the Bible Studies, you are invited to use the Prayer Calendar and lift up prayers for the day.
THE UNITED METHODIST WOMEN PURPOSE
United Methodist Women is a community of women whose purpose is to know God and to experience freedom as whole persons through Jesus Christ, to develop a creative supportive fellowship and to expand concepts of mission through participation in the global ministries of the church.
LITANY ON United Methodist Women PURPOSE
Leader: God of our faith journey, you have called us to be a community of women organized for your mission, in our connectional journey, as followers of the Way, Jesus the Christ.
United Methodist Women: God of the millennial journey of the cosmos, your word is flung across all creation in beauty and splendor, as the planets pursue their majestic journey in light and darkness.
Leader: God of our foremothers, our heart dances as we think of our foremothers as a cloud of witnesses cheering us onward in our journey as women mobilized for mission.
United Methodist Women: God of beginnings and endings, like our foremothers in their time, we are a community of women graced by your presence in this human time, in this human place for participating in your mission.
Leader: The Spirit that leads us into all the truth, thank you for the bible because its story relates to particular times, places, and communities.
United Methodist Women: God who meets us where we are, thank you for meeting us in this place and at this time and calling us to give a human face to you purpose
Leader: Jesus, the incarnate story of God's redemption, our purpose is to experience freedom as whole persons through you.
United Methodist Women: Jesus who calls us to be witnesses to the amazing grace of God, our purpose is to experience freedom as whole persons through you.
Leader: Freedom from exile to homeward journey.
United Methodist Women: Freedom from sickness to wholeness.
Leader: Freedom from bondage to liberation.
United Methodist Women: Freedom from alienation to embrace.
Leader: From abandonment to community.
United Methodist Women: From oppression to full humanity.
Leader: God of shalom, our purpose is to experience freedom as whole persons through Jesus Christ.
United Methodist Women: Infinite God, you invite us to experience your redemptive story of the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus.
Leader: Community-making God, you call us to develop creative, supportive fellowship.
United Methodist Women: God who exists in community, we are here to connect and reconnect with each other and our histories of reading the Bible.
Leader: Binder of wounds, healer of the underside of histories, you call us to develop anew beloved communities across barriers that continue to divide us.
United Methodist Women: God of unbroken love, gather us together into a closer walk with you and each other.
Leader: Story-telling God, stretch our hearts and imagination to grasp the story of the bible from the creation to infinity, from the human to the cosmic, from the Garden of Eden to our own hearts and minds.
United Methodist Women: God of unbroken love and undivided grace, expand our concepts of mission in order that we may widen our circles and draw others into a joyous journeying with you.
Leader: God of love, help us to sense the hurts and wounds of persons as they journey away into worlds of despair and hopelessness, and enable us to invest in and work for a world of justice, peace and wholeness.
United Methodist Women: Journeying God who always beckons people into communities of healing and hope, bless our engagement and participation in the global ministries of the church.
Leader: God who energizes your community into mission, mold us in faith, connect us in hope, and send us out as bearers of love in action.
United Methodist Women: God of transformation and new life, equip us to be witnesses to your greatest love in action for the whole world, even Jesus the Christ.
Leader: O God who is the author and finisher of all our journeys, may we be an embodiment of an inclusive, collective, sharing, and empowering community of women on a journey.
United Methodist Women: Accompanying God, bless our journey of faith, hope, and love in action, now and always, in the name of Jesus the Christ. Amen.
A Word from John Wesley on reading the Bible
In his "Preface to the Old Testament," Wesley says:
If you desire to read the scripture in such a manner as may most effectually answer this end, would it not be advisable,
- To set apart a little time, if you can, every morning and evening for that purpose?
- At each time if you have leisure, to read a chapter out of the Old, and one out of the New Testament: if you cannot do this, to take a single chapter, or a part of one?
- To read this with single eye, to know the whole will of God, and a fixt resolution to do it? In order to know his will, you should,
- Have a constant eye to the analogy of faith; the connexion and harmony there is between those grand, fundamental doctrines, Original Sin, Justification by Faith, the New Birth, Inward and Outward Holiness,
- Serious and earnest prayer should be constantly used, before we consult the oracles of God, seeing "scripture can only be understood thro' the same Spirit whereby "it was given." Our reading should likewise be closed with prayer, that what we read may be written on our hearts.
- It might also be of use, if while we read, we were frequently to pause, and examine ourselves by what we read, both with regard to our hearts, and lives. This would furnish us with matter of praise, where we found God had enabled us to conform to his blessed will, and matter of humiliation and prayer, where we were conscious of having fallen short. And whatever light you then receive, should be used to the uttermost, and that immediately. Let there be no delay. Whatever you resolve, begin to execute the first moment you can. So shall you find this word to be indeed the power of God unto present and eternal salvation.
Edinburgh April 25, 1765.
This Bible study was also published by United Methodist Publishing house; a print-friendly PDF can be downloaded from their site.