Read a Chapter a Day from the Gospel of John: Lenten Challenge
By Motoe Yamada Foor
When was the last time you picked up your Bible? Was it this morning or quite a while ago? In many churches, screens now display scriptures, and the practice of bringing a Bible to worship seems to be fading. I've encountered individuals proudly showing me Bibles from their confirmation class decades ago, yet those Bibles remain unopened.
We have more than a hundred translations of English Bibles. Which version of the Bible do you have? (Usually, the first page of the Bible tells you which version it is.) I respect whichever version of the Bible you have; my question is, “Do you understand your Bible translation?”
Reading the Gospel of John is one of my favorite spiritual practices for Lent. I try to read the entire Gospel in one setting and sometimes it takes a long time to read it.
Initially, this Gospel was my least favorite due to its perceived complexity. However, a class on the Gospel of John at seminary transformed my perspective. Concepts like the seven signs, the Johannine community's role in passing on Jesus' stories, and the idea that the beloved disciple in the gospel could be any of us sparked newfound appreciation. I now consider it my favorite Gospel, believing that the Holy Spirit guides us as we engage with its verses, offering a living dialogue with our souls.
Reading the Bible is one of the essential spiritual practices of disciples.
Join me in a Lenten challenge to read a chapter of John a day, starting the day after Ash Wednesday (February 14, 2024) and concluding just before Palm Sunday (March 24). You may use your own Bible or receive daily emails with the designated chapter.
Would you like to do it as an individual? Would you like to invite others to join you? (Your entire church, United Women of Faith, prayer partners, Bible study/small group, craft group and so on.) It will be great to invite young people (your children, grandkids, niece/nephew, church children/youth) and make this challenge intergenerational. (I will invite my kids to do this with me whether they are willing or not.) Let's dive into the Gospel of John together.
In the churches I served, I encouraged people during Lent to:
- Give up something,
- Start something, and
- Do something for the community of God during Lent.
While maintaining your regular spiritual practices (such as reading the Upper Room devotional, Sight Psalms, Disciplines, and New Every Morning: Daily Reflections from Upper Room Books), consider committing yourself to this daily reading. Even if you miss a day or two, don't worry; you can catch up.
Remember what Jesus has done for you. He suffered and died on the cross. For 2024, before Holy Week, you will finish reading about the life of Jesus from the Gospel of John; hence, Easter Sunday may be more meaningful for you.
Join us in this transformative Lenten experience. Whether you're a seasoned daily Bible reader or just starting Bible reading, let's take this journey together.
Register if you're considering joining this challenge. Let’s grow as disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world!
Are you looking for a Bible that is easy to understand and affirmed by the United Methodist committee on curriculum resources? Consider one of the following:
- Common English Church Bible, Casual Edition Hardback
- The CEB Study Bible Hardcover
- The CEB Lectio Divina Prayer Bible
- Common English Bible Gift & Award Black Red Letter Edition
- CEB Deep Blue Kids Bible Bright Sky Hardcover
- The email we will send out with each chapter will be from the Common English Bible
- John: The Gospel of Light and Life (By Adam Hamilton)
A guide to faith and life
We United Methodists put the Bible to work. In congregational worship, we read from the Bible. Through preaching, we interpret its message for our lives. It forms the background of most of our hymns and liturgy. It's the foundation of our church school curriculum. Many of us use it in our individual devotional lives, praying through its implications day by day. However, we admit that there's still vast "biblical illiteracy" in our denomination. We need to help one another open the Bible and use it.
Perhaps the Bible is best put to use when we seriously answer these four questions about a given text: (1) What did this passage mean to its original hearers? (2) What part does it play in the Bible's total witness? (3) What does God seem to be saying to my life, my community, my world, through this passage? and (4) What changes should I consider making as a result of my study?
From United Methodist Member's Handbook, Revised by George Koehler (Discipleship Resources, 2006), pp. 80-81. Alt 2019 Cited at “The Bible,” umc.org, https://www.umc.org/en/content/our-christian-roots-the-bible.