A Love Story

March 13, 2018

By Mary W. Brown

I want to tell you a love story.
 
I can’t remember the exact moment it started.  I heard this book read out loud during worship before I could even understand what its words meant.  In Sunday School I started to learn its stories through felt cut outs of rainbows and pyramids and big fish. 
 
When I was fifteen my youth director suggested I read a chapter of this book a day, starting with the New Testament.  I slowly worked my way through four gospels, and a book of Acts, and a bunch of letters, and a Revelation.
 
Day by day, I fell in love with this book.
 
But as I read, I also came across some material that was hard to love.  The sermon on the mount (Matt 5-7) was frighteningly strict about anger and lust and divorce.  1 Timothy said women should sit in silence in church (2:8-15).  When I turned to the Old Testament I found laws and slavery and war and murder.
 
By the time I finished college, I was sure of two things.  One:  that God was calling me into ministry.  And two:  if I was to teach this book to others… I’d need a lot of help.
 
So off to seminary I went. 
 
I learned Greek and Hebrew.  I studied commentaries.  I listened to lectures.  I was trained to “exegete” the text.  This was still the book I loved… but reading it had become a lot of work.  It felt like the honeymoon was over. 
 
I graduated seminary.  I was mentally exhausted.
 
A few years passed. 
 
Then I got to teach “Disciple Bible Study.”  My small class read through most of this book in just 32 weeks.  I liked the experience so much, I gathered another group and did it again.  Two years in a row we went from Genesis to Revelation.  Reading it like this showed me something I had almost forgotten:
 
A love story. 
 
Not just a love story between me and this book, but a love story between God and us.  I saw it start with creation and move to covenant and kings and prophets; I saw it come to fullness in Jesus Christ; I saw it continue through the church and look toward Christ coming again.  I saw and felt God’s great love, told through this book.
 
This is my love story.
 
I want it to be yours, too. 
 
Open it up.  Read a chapter.  See what happens.

Mary Wood Brown is the pastor of Andrews UMC in the Smoky Mountain District
Follow Jesus. Make Disciples. Transform the World.