We have been involved in a traditional Bible study for about twenty years now. It started when I took over for the former leader who retired after many years of hosting a lunchtime study. It was about the same time that I was doing advanced study in the Scripture and getting ready to start seminary. I was drawn to teach even though, as I look back on it, I was ill prepared for such an assignment. So typical of God – tapping someone who may have the heart, but not the skill, to answer a call mandated by the Almighty.
Several years in, we moved from a restaurant to our home and people we have known for many years stuck with it and have been together ever since. I think I started teaching in 2001 and the first book I taught was Genesis. After years of study and our group having grown older together, I still get a thrill whenever we get together to study God’s Word. We have a particular style that we like – an exegetical study. In other words, we choose a book and go through it word by word, verse by verse as the Spirit moves us. I haven’t counted lately, but I think we have studied more than 30 books together throughout our time together.
I suppose that we are a little unorthodox in that we start the first week of June and keep going until sometime around Thanksgiving – when we break for the holidays and during the depths of the winter. We added a member well over ten years ago, as one of our group got married (I did the ceremony!!!) but other than that, we have stayed the same since the beginning. In a way, that is very comforting.
We have grown together in our faith and accept one another for who we are. We all know the expectations of the group; and when we start and stop each year. We depend on one another. I would go so far as to say that several of us think of our group as a small house church and each of us has a different element to contribute to the group. God knows, we aren’t all that mighty in numbers – there are nine of us… that’s it.
We have shared communion, prayed for one another, had baptisms by immersion after doing a study of John, sharing meals and events together – we have done all the things that constitute a body of believers in community together – a church. But we have never really labeled ourselves as anything in particular – well, sort of…
Last year, with the Covid restrictions and fears of contracting the coronavirus, we discussed how to hold our study. Several of our members who have other medical issues couldn’t meet in person while we all wanted to keep ourselves as isolated as possible to avoid potential problems with our health. So, we decided to meet in our rather large garage – socially distanced and by Zoom for those who couldn’t be there in person.
One Thursday night, as we were together, someone remarked that we should call ourselves the “Church of the Overhead Door.” We all laughed but there is an element of truth to the whole idea. Because every believer has a “door” to heaven and an invitation to spend eternity with God. Of course, it wasn’t lost on us that we were in a garage – concrete floors and all. Suddenly, our parking spaces were holy places and I often think of that each time I pull a car in the garage.
It was wonderful when we met last week for the first time this year. In fact, we moved indoors and decided that since we were all vaccinated, it was a safe step to take. We are starting in the second book of the Psalms (Psalms 42-72) having completed the first 41 psalms last year as part of our study. It is wonderful to be back together.
Our verse tonight highlights the beginning of the Acts 2 church. Luke, the author of Acts, as well as the Gospel bearing his name, tells is about the people who made up the Church. He tells us, in Acts 2:42-44, “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common.” That’s pretty much the way our little group operates.
My encouragement this evening is that God designed us to meet in communities of believers. In fact, I believe that our faith is increased by being in fellowship with others. My prayer is that each believer will be blessed by living in community with others, as we have been able to do for many years now. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…