Contextual Reading of the Bible

The Fairhaven virtual service on Sunday, May 31 began with the reading of Psalm 22. This lament was made in recognition of the killing of George Floyd and the protests of continued systemic injustice. During our time of music we sang Stronger.

Eric and Kelly Frey Martin led our discussion. Eric is a recruiter for Mennonite Mission Network (MMN) and Kelly is a nurse. A few months ago they returned to the US after serving in Colombia with MMN. Here is a link to their Contextual Reading Presentation. It gives information about their time in Colombia and walks us through a contextual reading of Esther 2:1-18. If you would like to learn more about doing Contextual Bible Study, click here for a resource manual by The Ujaama Centre that developed this practice in South Africa after the fall of apartheid.

Here are some notes from our discussion of the presentation:

  • Shalom is the combination of justice and peace. We usually think of peace as the end of conflict. Shalom is not just the lack of conflict, but it is everyone living in right relationship.
  • We all bring perspectives with us when we read the Bible. We should recognize what perspective each of us brings.
  • After reading Esther’s story as a part of a workshop with Eric and Kelly that used contextual reading, Colombian youth pointed out that this story contains racism, kidnapping, machismo, and sexism.
  • The Bible is something we can relate to. It speaks to our reality.
  • Some parts of the Bible are prescriptive and some parts are descriptive.

God acts even in the midst of a difficult situation. In the story of Esther people acted for justice even in the midst of an unjust society. We pray for our church community, our city, our nation, and our world that we may be agents of peace and justice. We follow the example of Jesus who always noticed and acted on behalf of the oppressed.