After being on vacation for a couple of weeks, it was time to get back to work. The first official task was leading Bible Study. Well, actually, the first official task was preparing the material for the Bible study that would begin at 10:00am the first day back at work. This particular study had been shut down for the summer and my plan was that over the summer, I would use the more relaxed work time to get the new Bible study ready.
Of course, as with all plans, this one fell apart very quickly. Early in the summer, I did some initial research and created a file on the computer with some notes, planning on getting back to it soon. But, well, there was a week of vacation early in the summer and I needed to take some time off to compensate for the ballooning overtime hours and there was the wedding that had to be done and some meetings and some pastoral visits. And somehow, I arrived at the first day back at work with some notes in a file on the computer.
Fortunately, I had enough time to beat the notes into some sort of shape before I left. I arrived early, as usual–and someone was there before me, which was bit of a surprise. Even more surprising was the fact that I didn’t know the people–they were coming to check out the Bible study from a community a few kilometers away.
Before I could get to the door, another car arrived and as I was greeting them, another car arrived–this one with a couple who were going away for a while and wanted to let me know that they were going to be away. As I was praying with them, others arrived and before I could get the door unlocked, we had a crowd standing around.
I finally unlocked the door and we got seated, the kettle boiling and we settled down to catching up on the summer, meeting the visitors, discussing my vacation and greeting everyone as they came in, including another visitor. Even with several of our regulars being away, we had a full house by the time we got started.
We got down to work–and even with three new people, the Bible study worked like it always has. We talked, got off topic, looked at interesting and significant questions and comments, did some of the material I had prepared, followed side trails, raised issues, had disagreements, got confused and occasionally had no idea how we got to where we ended up. The new people–well, instead of sitting there bewildered by our chaotic process, the three new people jumped right in acting as if they had been there from the beginning. Their questions and comments were as thought provoking, as pertinent and as prone to taking us off course as those of any veteran of the study.
In the end, the material I had rushed together provided lots of stuff to work with. It started discussion, answered and raised questions and covered the topic that the group has wanted to look at. I began the study wondering if I had enough material to fill in the time–and then part way through, began to worry that I had too much material. In the end, we finished the topic, which was meant to be a one week study to deal with a specific issue before we went on to another topic.
As I left after the study, I realized something. I missed the Bible study–or rather, I missed the interaction with the group of people. While I am officially the leader of the study, practically, we have evolved an approach to Bible study that allows all of us to teach and learn, question and answer, confuse and enlighten–and do it all in an atmosphere where everyone has respect and appreciation for each other. We don’t agree on everything–and we are comfortable leaving the disagreement on the table without trying to win the point.
I am pretty sure that if I had showed up at the study and confessed that I hadn’t been able to get anything done on the study topic, we would have still had a good Bible study because the group would have taken over. I may have to do that next week–I still have to put together the material for the next topic.
May the peace of God be with you.