On Connecting the Dots...

by Jan Thames on September 4, 2014
Remember those childhood drawing books where you followed the numbered dots which led to an outlined picture of a horse, airplane, flower or some other image of childhood fancy or the promise of a surprise once the dots were connected? It dawns on me that one of my St. Margaret’s celebrations is the Tuesday morning Bible and Breakfast time; for me, it’s truly one of my favorite ways to connect my spiritual dots. 
Nearly everything we know about the life and ministry of Jesus comes from the Bible’s four Gospel books--Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. While Jesus and His teachings are absolutely central to all branches of Christianity, there are many different shades of interpretation and belief within our Christian community. Our Bible and Breakfast time is a great way to gain a fuller understanding of those things that Jesus, Himself, taught during His three years of earthly ministry. Because of the differences among the Gospels, we may be tempted to ask which, if any, is the correct portrayal of the life events of Jesus?  However, each of the four is a unique view of Jesus, drawn from different eyewitnesses and different traditions, and we are fortunate to have these four “windows” to see four views of these central events of Christianity.
So how do we approach our study of the Gospels during Bible and Breakfast? How do these dots about Jesus begin to provide a mosaic for understanding the His ministry, what He taught about our relationship with God and each other and His advice for living our daily temporal and spiritual lives?
  • We begin with prayer
  • We read the Gospel passage for the upcoming Sunday as listed in the Common Lectionary
  • We discuss four facets in order to have a more complete understanding of the passage:
    • Observation: What are the facts? What do the words mean? What comes before and after to put the passage in context? Who is speaking? And to whom?
    • Interpretation: What did the passage mean to the original audience two or three thousand years ago? Are we making the mistake of interpreting the passage through our own experiences rather than those of the original audience? Is the passage using literary techniques like allegory, metaphor, parable or hyperbole to make its point?
    • Evaluation: What does the passage mean to us today? Can it be applied today, or do we need to apply the underlying principle to conditions very differently than when it was originally written?
    • Application: How should I apply what I learn from this passage to live a more godly life? Do I need to change my attitudes or actions as a result?
      • We end with prayer.
Throughout our study, we share an atmosphere of openness and trust within the group by respecting the opinions, beliefs and experiences of others and by keeping these things in confidence; in this atmosphere, we can share our faith and grow in the study of God’s word.  (We also laugh and share bad hair days!) More specifically, for me, Bible and Breakfast provides:
  • Connections to the following Sunday’s sermon
  • Connections of the Old Testament with the cultural and historical events and teachings of Jesus’ life  
  • Connections with others in our St. Margaret’s community
  • Connections with Jesus’ advice for living my daily life.  
So, if you sometimes feel that you are left with only dots, I encourage you to join us for Bible and Breakfast!  (Led by the Rev. Mary Vano, Tuesday Mornings, 7:30 -8:30, Panera Bread – 11525 Cantrell Road)

Read more about our Celebrations:
An Interview with Michaelene Miller
More than a New Look for Williams Hall