Review of The Bible Unwrapped
Tany Warkentin, pastoral leader of Springridge Mennonite Church (Pincher Creek
In our small rural congregation, we’ve recently formed a Potluck/Bible Study group that wants to better understand the Bible and its relevance for us. In our search for material to guide our discussions, we watched a video on how to understand the Bible, but it was theologically over-the-heads of some of us. We needed something easy to understand and apply to our own lives. Then we saw CommonWord advertising “The Bible Unwrapped” by Meghan Good and in reading it, we thought it would be just the book for us. In fact, since our congregation relies on borrowed sermon ideas from other congregations/materials, we hoped to first read portions of the book as sermons in our church worship services, and then our Bible Study group could discuss that material during the following week.
Our first sermon on “The Bible Unwrapped” was a flop! It made us realize that what is engaging for a person to read to themselves can’t necessarily be read aloud to a group, in the same format. While Good’s style of writing is easy-to-read, we needed to pick and choose certain sections and adapt vocabulary and wording, in order to present it as a sermon. In doing this, we have “sermoned” though a number of chapters of the book with much better feedback. We have appreciated Good’s vivid image of the Bible as a window through which we see the wild “forest” of God’s reality, and through which we are drawn to personally meet God.
We present the sermons in two parts – First, some of Good’s background material; then her story-based “Unwrapping” of a familiar Bible story – be it Joshua, Jonah or Matthew’s story. With each story, we look through the “window” of the Bible to understand the story in a way that invites us to step in and meet God with our own 21st century issues. This Sunday, in “Unwrapping the book of Jonah”, even without being dramatically swallowed by a big fish, we recognize ourselves as recipients of God’s saving grace and hear God asking us to also offer the same grace to others – even our “Ninevites/enemies”. These sermons have spoken to us, but the resulting discussions is what our small Bible Study members have found especially thought-provoking and inspiring. We have teenage, middle-aged and senior members, and our discussions have been able to engage the simple theological questions as well as the deeper, more complicated ones.
In a time when Biblical literacy is low and still decreasing, we have been renewed and energized to experience the value of our ancient scriptures, in being able to draw us into closer relationship with God and our neighbours. We are thankful for the excellent resources that help us in this quest.