Dear Friends, 

Blessings on you and your loved ones as we begin 2016.  The January schedule and an excellent article on reading the Bible by Spencer Stevens are below.  If reading the Bible as a spiritual practice is part of your intentions for 2016 Spencer has some words of wisdom for you.

I also offer the following blessing for the beginning of a new year by John O'Donohue. You can read it below or enjoy a musical video here

On the day when
The weight deadens
On your shoulders
And you stumble,
May the clay dance
To balance you.

And when your eyes
Freeze behind
The grey window
And the ghost of loss
Gets into you,
May a flock of colours,
Indigo, red, green
And azure blue,
Come to awaken in you
A meadow of delight.

When the canvas frays
In the currach of thought
And a stain of ocean
Blackens beneath you,
May there come across the waters
A path of yellow moonlight
To bring you safely home.

May the nourishment of the earth be yours,
May the clarity of light be yours,
May the fluency of the ocean be yours,
May the protection of the ancestors be yours.
And so may a slow
Wind work these words
Of love around you,
An invisible cloak
To mind your life.

"A New Year Blessing"
Benedictus (To Bless The Space Between Us)

Anna Greenwood-Lee
St. Laurence Anglican Church
403-249-6184 x. 2
Reading the Bible as a Library (by Spencer Stevens, a retired librarian) 

 A Possible Approach to Reading the Bible

We can tell a lot about a church by whether the Bible is being used to initiate free inquiry or discourage it.  Thankfully, at St. Laurence, we follow the path of open discussion, and so, last fall, members of our parish as well as participants from other churches embarked on a seven-week video course called The Animate Bible.  Each week, we listened to a brief lecture from a contemporary Bible scholar, and then discussed his or her views.  The discussions were led by Anna, Carolyn and Elizabeth.  (The word "animate" refers to the clever animation that accompanied each speaker's presentation.)

One speaker, a minister named Jose Morales, suggested an interesting technique for reading the Bible.  He recommends that we should not approach the Bible as a monolithic text.  Rather, we should view the Bible as an anthology or library of very different genres or forms of writing that appeal to individual tastes.  Just as we prefer different types of music or literature, we will prefer certain books in the Bible over others depending on our personal styles of reading, learning and thinking.  Poetry lovers might enjoy the Psalms.  People interested in historical narratives might prefer books such as first and second Kings or the Acts of the Apostles.  Anyone brave enough to tackle theology might study St. Paul's Letters.

The reason that I am confident that this approach to Bible reading is a helpful one for laypeople is because it is the one that I have used for over a decade.  By acknowledging the various genres within the Bible, I have been able to break it down into manageable sections so that I no longer feel that I am attempting  the biblical equivalent of a Mount Everest climb by trying to read it from cover to cover.

This approach to Bible reading also puts quality ahead of quantity. It assumes that it is better to read a few books of the Bible that speak directly to our hearts, and can be easily integrated into our spiritual lives to better serve and glorify God, than to read a large number of books that leave us perplexed and alienated.
It also allows for a more flexible and subtle reading in that, rather than imposing a single type of interpretation upon the entire Bible, we are able to make an allegorical and metaphorical interpretation or more literal interpretation depending on what is required by the specific context of the book that we are reading.  The love poetry of the Song of Solomon probably requires a different type of interpretation than the legalistic writing found in Leviticus.

I would, however, include one area of required reading.  We all need to study the Four Gospels which contain the core of Christian belief: the life and teachings of Jesus Christ.  We can then go our separate ways to explore our favourite parts of the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament.

Please note that Anna and Carolyn will be offering the second in the 'Animate' video series, the seven week Animate Faith series on Tuesdays at 1:30 or and 7:30 beginning on February 2nd.   Anna will be leading the afternoon session and Carolyn the evening one.    
January at St. Laurence
Sunday, January 3
10:00 am Epiphany Sunday Holy Eucharist The Rev. Anna Greenwood-Lee 

Thursday, January 7
9:30 am Contemplative Prayer Service with Geri Urch

Sunday, January 10
10:00 am The Baptism of Christ.  Cadence and Emilie Arbo to be baptised.  

Thursday, January 14
9:30 am Prayer Group with Stuart McKay 

Sunday, January 17
10:00 am Holy Eucharist The Rev. Carolyn Herold.

Anna will be taking the services St. Stephens this morning

This is also Food Bank Sunday. Please remember to bring your donations. 

Thursday, January 21
9:30 am Contemplative Prayer Service with Geri Urch

Sunday, January 24  
10:00 am Holy Eucharist. The Rev. Anna Greenwood-Lee preaching.  Renee McKillop from Calgary Eats will be our guest for Conversations.

Monday, January 25
10:00 am Pastoral Care Meeting in Sunshine Room

Thursday, January 28
9:30 am Prayer Group with Stuart McKay

Sunday, January 31, 
10:00 am Holy Eucharist The Rev. Cathy Fulton preaching.
January Lunch following the service- all are welcome.

Save the date - The Annual Meeting of Parishioners will be after the service on Sunday, February 28th.  Full financial statements for 2015 as well as a budget for 2016 will be available for distribution prior to the meeting.