Scripture Party, Type One: In times of yore (ah! remember those great days when we used to be nostalgic?!), my parents were newly fixtures in the Cedars Church in Delaware. They remembered attending “scripture parties” back then.
At the time, some of the leaders were Kathryn & Ernie Hyne, Anne and Dan Boyd, Sybil & R.N. “Pop” Floyd, Dorothy & J.T. Martin, and Elizabeth & Louis Green, perhaps among others. (My parents were among the young, new deacon-y set.) I suspect it might have been the Hynes or Martins who served as hosts. I don’t know whether this occurred twice or a dozen times, but the Cedars congregation had a lot of spiritual energy then, not to mention more time to share, and I take it that this “scripture party” thing was one way the energy came out. At such a party, it’s my understanding thateveryone “brought” a scripture and shared it.
Some years later, I tried hosting just such a scripture party myself. It was not a terribly well-thought-out thing to do, and I don’t recall that it “succeeded” by any stretch . . . not to mention that having everyone bring a different scripture passage virtually guarantees that there will have been no prior (and likely no present) awareness of literary context!
Scripture Party, Type Two: On at least four other occasions, I hosted a different kind of “scripture party.” Type two was an evening of reading through a single biblical document. In my case, the longer documents that required advance planning for the oral reading were Revelation, Mark, and Acts. (Philemon and Colossians and other, shorter letters can easily be read multiple times in a sitting, divvying up the paragraphs on the fly, if desired.)
The Mark reading was probably the most successful, because the handful present that evening in our home still remember it, and I personally remember the tears in my eyes when coming to certain passages—passages that took on new meaning because I was experiencing the entire gospel at once. The practice of reading an entire document at once leads to a high level of contextual awareness. “Book-level context” is the term Greg Fay has used in his writings.
Below is the text of a note handed to participants in the Revelation reading. Feel free to try this at home. It’s a completely safe “party” activity, and it’s very rewarding!
Dear Revelation Readers,
Here’s a copy of the formatted text. Please bring it with you to read from on the 30th.
We’ll take a break in the middle—at the bottom of p. 11. The actual reading time is something just under two hours.
Sections are marked with readers’ names in the left margin. Please prepare by practicing reading your sections aloud. Revelation is a dramatic book, filled with intrigue and excitement; your reading should be expressive and should convey appropriate emotion. When we read it all together, may the Lord’s true message shine through! I’m confident that through the deep, dark symbols that occupy much of the material, the main message is one of hope, of triumph.
I hope you’ll look forward to the 30th as I will!