Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning: Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

I love this collect. This short prayer speaks to the importance of scripture. Rich, living, intended to be heard, read, marked, learned and inwardly digested, scripture is foundational to our walk as Christians. Yet, we are reluctant to admit that we know little about scripture. We are reluctant to carve out the time needed to hear, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest scripture. There always seems to be something else that takes priority over taking time for learning. Are you waiting for the best possible time to get down to further study or learning? Do you find yourself thinking about how you can deepen your faith, get more involved in book studies, Bible studies, courses of study, some continuing education opportunity? Are you one of the people who can never find the time for it?

C. S. Lewis mused that if we are waiting for the best time to get down to learning, it will never come. 

“If we let ourselves, we shall always be waiting for some distraction or other to end before we can really get down to our work. The only people who achieve much are those who want knowledge so badly that they seek it while the conditions are still unfavorable. Favorable conditions never come.”

Take the leap friends. Don’t let the distractions of life hold you back. Life is a gift. One of the sweetest parts of life is that we are always learning. We have every opportunity to lean into questions. I love the questions. The people who frighten me are the ones who have all of the answers (For Reference – see Donald Trump, Westboro Baptists, and Extremist Group).

I can share a personal story – and offer it as an opportunity for those nearby.

As a priest I am often seeking to find opportunities for learning. I seek them for  myself and for the people of the communities in which I have served. Last year I was encouraged to become a mentor for the Education for Ministry (EfM) program. Am I ever glad I said yes! Of all of the Adult Christian Education I have been part of over the last 20+ years, this course of study has taught me so much. Learning alongside 8 others At St Aidan’s has been a real gift to me. “EfM is a four-year study and group reflection process for the formation of Christian ministry through the development  of knowledge, attitude, skill, and identity as Christians.” Over four years students study, Old Testament, New testament, Church History, and Ethics.

The first group really drew close to one another and learned and taught one another a lot. Each week provided opportunity to engage with the Old Testament. reflect theologically, and share in one another’s stories. It was a very rich and productive group, where folks could explore their faith. It was a very safe and secure place, without judgemnet. It was a group happy to live in the questions. The group had a healthy ‘hermeneutic of suspicion.’ We laughed, we cried, we prayed, we ate, we reflected, … in other words, we read the Old Testament! I can best sum up our experience with this prayer written by one of our group members, Vicki Andersen. It was a litany that we shared together on our last evening together;

We have shared happiness and laughter
Creator God, we give thanks for time that is done and for the time that is yet to be. We have shared with one another
We give thanks for time that is done and for the time that is yet to be.
We have given one another our vulnerabilities in trust and love
We give thanks for time that is done and for the time that is yet to be.
We have broken bread and sung your praises
We give thanks for time that is done and for the time that is yet to be.
We have read and talked and struggled and seen new things in your word
We give thanks for time that is done and for the time that is yet to be.

We have been provoked, we have been suspicious, we have known belief; we have known disbelief
We give thanks for time that is done and for the time that is yet to be.
We have ,mourned together the end of life; we have celebrated together the beginning of life
We give thanks for time that is done and for the time that is yet to be.
We have been restored when we have been broken
We give thanks for time that is done and for the time that is yet to be.

Creator God, for this band of pilgrims, for these our companions, we give thanks and praise to you in whose name we have gathered week after week. Amen.

 This group is not a closed group. So for those of you nearby looking for a place to learn, read, mark, and digest scripture, our group begins in September. We would love to have you join us. You may feel called to do more study. You may think this is an unfavourable time. But as C.S. Lewis reminds us, unfavourable times are the ideal times, as a favourable time will never present itself. 

If you want to know more about this program, please be in touch. You can email me at canonkevingeorge@gmail.com. Registration for the fall will be open until mid July. 

Here are some photos of this past year’s EfM group times together….

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