Mikel Birkel’s book “Engaging Scripture” Reading the Bible with Early Friends,” is a fantastic book that is helpful not just for Quakers but for anyone looking for different ways of reading Scripture (inwardly, meditatively, together, lectio, for transformation, etc.). It’s a book we’ve used in a variety of settings at Camas Friends Church and people really love it.
One of the things we’ve done Sunday morning a few times is what Birkel calls a “meeting for reading.” A meeting for reading isn’t exactly like the silent reading parties that go on up in Seattle and other cities, but it’s a great idea.
Meeting for reading is a way of reading with others that attends to the power of the images in scripture to take us into an awareness of the presence of God.
For a meeting for reading, we set a certain time aside (20-25min is a good amount of time to begin with) and then we begin in silence. Someone then reads a passage to begin the time, inviting people to listen “in a spirit of generosity” to the texts as they are read.
…Attempt to be simply present to it. Attend to the images of the passage, and sit with them in quiet openness. They invite God to be present to them in the passage and to move them to respond worshipfully.
Those in the group listen for implicit (or explicit) threads, themes and connections. Sometimes we are them prompted to read a new passage in relationship to the previous texts and sometimes people read something they’ve been reflecting on or even a favorite verse. Then allow for some respectful silence in between the readings to let the text settle in before someone else reads another passage. Repeat this process until you are done.
I’ve found this to be a great practice for churches looking to build group participation and engage with the biblical text in a new way.
Here is a sketchnote guide I handed out to everyone who participated in our meeting of reading today. Feel free to download and remix however you’d like.