NORMAN — With this week’s tragic events in Moore, several have turned to prayer and, more specifically, the Bible to find comfort and peace.
Reading the Bible can be confusing for some and intimidating, too. So to help aid in the efforts of grasping the meaning of the Bible, McFarlin Memorial United Methodist Church will launch The Bible in 90 Days on Sunday .
The program was developed by Ted Cooper Jr., a business man who attended a non-denominational church.
“He decided a man of faith, as he considered himself, should read the Bible. So he decided he was going to read it, 12 pages a day. He finished in 90 days,” Executive Program Director of McFarlin, Michael Andres, said. “As he tells it, half way through the Old Testament, he realized ‘I want to be a follower of Jesus.’ The redemptive narrative of scripture begins at the beginning and not in a manger. What Ted realized was that everything he was reading in the Old Testament led to the revelation of Jesus and the understanding of what it means to be a church and a disciple in the New Testament. At the end of it, he took it to his church leaders and said ‘I think as a church, we need to be doing this.’”
The readings will begin Sunday at McFarlin. Readings will precede Sunday sermons beginning June 2.
“Within each week’s readings, we will choose one of the main characters from the main story that they have read and give them a chance to teach and preach about what they’ve already read. They will be coming each week having read what we are about to say more about,” Randy Wade, associate pastor of LifeLine worship, said.
With 18 of 24 Sunday school classes and six other small groups participating in the program, Linda Harker, senior pastor, is pleased that the congregation has supported The Bible in 90 Days.
“My hope is that people will fall in love with God’s word. That it is, within the pages, everything that we need to know how to live life abundantly. And that deep love for God’s word,” Harker said.
The groups, according to Andres, will gather weekly, mostly in Sunday school classes, to discuss that week’s reading. Organizers of The Bible in 90 Days at McFarlin hope that the small groups will bring many voices together allowing members to get a more comprehensive understanding of what the text is saying.
“Part of why I think that’s an important part to this is it provides accountability and support. One of the things that the church understands as part of it’s calling is that we do provide accountability and how it is God is revealing himself to us,” Andres said. “The people of God need to know God, and you know God best by being in God’s word.”
Launching the program in the summer was intentional, Harker said, hoping that the congregation will read the daily 12 pages as a family.
“Or if you travel during the summer or you are on vacation, everybody can do this together whether we are physically together or not. Our youth choir is going on tour as part of their mission and they have decided that is what they will do everyday; they will read 12 pages together. It seems every different area of the church has really gotten on board,” Harker said.
Andres has three hopes for the program.
“One of them is that people experience the value of being in scripture daily, whether that’s through a devotional book, whether that’s rereading the Bible. But that people experience new insight, new depth, new life in being in God’s word every day. I think I also have a hope that people who are not familiar with small groups or Sunday school experience what that kind of community can do in someone’s life.
“To be surrounded by people who are invested in what is going on with you, not just spiritually but also outside the walls of the church, that people can connect to the community or find new connections to the community they are in,” Andres said. “And I think the third one would be that people would go, ‘What am I supposed to do next?’ And, on a simpler level, we just want people to know the story. You can’t know the whole story even if you come to church every Sunday your whole life. It’s such an incredibly rich, life giving story and to read it from beginning to end and get the whole brand scope of it at one time, will be life changing in itself.”
Harker also invites members of the community to join McFarlin in The Bible in 90 Days by visiting the church’s website, mcfarlinumc.org.
“We believe reading this, at the end of it, we will be changed. I don’t think you can read the Bible and your life not be changed,” Harker said.