31 Mar UVF Debuts Public Reading of Scripture Initiative on Campus
Posted at 10:00h in UVF News
During the 2019-2020 school year, a new initiative began at UVF called Public Reading of Scripture (PRS). This project, started in a few elective chapels during the fall semester, quickly became an integral part of life on campus. In 1 Timothy 4:13, the apostle Paul wrote to the young Timothy saying, “Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching.” This verse is what the PRS initiative is based upon, and is an important tenet of a biblically-based community.
When asked why public reading of Scripture is so important in the lives of believers, Dr. Jerry Ireland, Chair of both the Ministry Leadership and Theology and Intercultural Studies departments, shared that “this whole practice of the public reading of Scripture grounds us and frames everything that we do in the context of God’s Word and it keeps our gatherings from being about something other than who Jesus is and the mission Jesus has called us to be on. Through the public reading of Scripture, we draw near to God and understand who He is and what He wants for us as His followers, and how we relate to one another and form communities that honor Christ.”
The founder of the Communal Reading of Scripture movement, Bill Hwang, explained that hearing short passages from the Bible in church on a Sunday morning, but not reading the whole Bible, is like Christians watching previews for a movie constantly, but never actually seeing the movie. Pastors then expound upon those Bible passages, or to follow the metaphor, they explain the storyline of what the movie is about, so it feels like a person has seen the movie, but they’ve never actually watched it for themselves. Hwang also explains that for the average person, reading the entire Bible takes a total of about 80 hours. So by reading one or two hours a week, a person can comfortably read the entire Bible every year. “Reading the Bible should be just like eating food. I don’t worry about eating food, and I do it [joyfully] within my community… but just like food, we don’t finish reading [the] Bible once and then we’re done; it’s like food. We eat it and consume it [regularly] and joyfully in community.” This is why the PRS initiative was founded: to create a place for Christians to read and listen to the Word of God in community, get it in their hearts, and be able to apply it to their lives.
Aside from the public reading of Scripture in chapels, classes, and in small groups, UVF had begun the process of setting up PRS Lunches. A small section of the Dining Commons was set up like a lounge, with comfortable chairs and a speaker system through which sections of the Bible were read out loud through the Bible app. This space provided an atmosphere for students, staff, and faculty alike to take time out of their busy days and soak in the Word of God. “Just as it does with students, [public reading of Scripture] shapes our identity to be disciple-makers and to be people who care about the things that God cares about and who are passionate about the missio Dei… We constantly need the Word of God and the power of Scripture to bring us back to who we are in Christ and what he’s called us to do,” explains Ireland. That is exactly what the PRS Lunches hope to do on campus: bring Scripture to something as simple as the daily task of eating lunch.
Faith Parisot, a freshman at UVF, shared her experience with the public reading of Scripture in the UVF community as confirmation from God. She explained that over the course of her relationship with Jesus, she became plagued by questions and doubts about God’s goodness and His plan for her life.
“One of my pastors prayed over my doubts and she said something that changed my life. She prayed that I would have a deep desire to hear the Word of God, and then she quoted Romans 10:17 – ‘So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.’ This verse continually came up in the coming months, and I knew that God was stirring within me a hunger for His Word, because it was the only thing that could quiet my questions and replace my doubts with faith. As I began to implement a daily practice of listening to the Word of God, I saw a total shift in my mindset. The Lord brought peace and clarity through His Word [and] He longs to do the same for you!”
While we may not be able to gather in person for a public reading of Scripture at this time due to the threat of COVID-19, believers can still experience the truth of Scripture through reading it and listening to it. Allow the “peace of God, which transcends all understanding, to guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus,” and let our doubts and fears be quieted by the One who holds the universe in His scarred hands.
For more about Public Reading of Scripture movement, click here.
To hear a message from Founder Bill Hwang, click here.