15 May Staff Notes – Ella Anselmi: Our Beloved Book
“But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.” (Ps. 1:2 NIV)
Last year, I began meeting with a friend once a week for what we called Book Club. It was just the two of us, sitting down for lunch, and discussing the latest chapter of the book we were reading. We both had a backlog of Christian books we wanted to read, and the idea of Book Club was to go through each of these and dwell on the content together.
We started out reading Eat This Book by Eugene Peterson—a book that challenges you to delve into Scripture, with Peterson encouraging us to read the Bible as if we were dogs gnawing on a bone. It was a powerful read, covering how the Bible was written, how it can be read, and how to practise Lectio Divina. At the end of the book, we began discussing what we should pick up next and both of us, with the same conviction, thought we should put our learnings into practice and read the Bible!
The next week we picked up James as our second Book Club read, and what a blessing this has been for me! We have been going through N.T Wright’s, James for Everyone (a highly recommended series if you haven’t discovered it yet!). Reading through James each week, along with N.T Wright’s commentary, and discussing the themes with each other, has been so rich. The purpose of James is to teach Christians right behaviour, bringing the abstract down to the practical.
Reading James has reminded me to turn to the teachings of Jesus, to his example, and let these teachings become part of my life. I have been reminded to not always lean towards Christian books that seem more digestible, but to savour the word of God, learning and chewing over the words. As my friend put it, James is a feisty little book, giving us a lot to dwell on.
We have just finished the final chapter of James and for last week’s Book Club (now over Zoom) we went back and read the whole book in one sitting. It was amazing to see how eating the Bible slowly, and chewing on it together, has allowed God’s word to penetrate our lives. It has been a simple, but invaluable, reminder of the value of opening Scripture, and the value of doing so with a friend.