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Your Sins are Forgiven: Bible Study with a Twist

{ Tags: \ Feb17 }

Tonight I started a new bible study session in the Sto. Niño chapel of Adelina subdivision. The bible study was announced only this week following an informal conversation I had with some of the parishioners there last Monday. Eleven persons came and given the short notice it was more than I expected.

I experimented again tonight. I am already giving bible study sessions in two other subdivisions. In the main church and at the Resurrection chapel, the bible study sessons follow more or less the same pattern: the text is read, the participants are allowed to ask questions about the text and the conversations following become the occassion for faith-sharing. Then we wrap up with a prayer and a blessing. At the Sto. Niño chapel, I started to do something different. Here is how

After a short prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, we opened with a song. Most, if not all, of those present were members of the Light of Jesus Charismatic Community, so they had no problems coming up with a song that everyone can sing. After the opening song, I introduced the process to them: reading the text, explanation of the text, reading the text once more, group-sharing and prayers.

After the text (Mark 2:1-12) was read the first time, I explained it to them. In other bible sessions, I encouraged people to ask questions about the text, thinking that it was more fitted to the age-level of the audience. It is during the course of the question-and-answer process that somehow trust is built up and faith-experiences are begun to be shared. There is a problem with the method, however; for some people, it becomes an occasssion for having their own understanding of the passage — whether petty or not — verified or denied. At Sto. Niño, it was I who controlled the subsequent group sharing by laying out before hand the elements about the text that should be discussed. I explained the text in such a way that I also indicated how it was to be applied to the present circumstance. Here is an example. In talking about the healing of the paralytic, I pointed out the transformation in the bearing of the person: he who was at first the one being carried went home carrying the mat he had laid on. Then I pointed out that the change was due to his having been forgiven of his sins by Jesus. Then I asked the group whether they know from their own or another’s experience the changes that occur in a person who has experienced being forgiven. After some examples were given, I pointed to them the psalm that begins with the words; “Happy the man whose sins are forgiven…” (Psalm 32). Once I felt that the group will be taking that line of thought once they hear the passage about the healed man going home, I moved on to the next element in the story.

This “controlled” explanation of the text does not guarantee that the participants will never — during the course of the study — introduce their own favorite ideas and share it with others, but at least the instances will be minimized. I found out during the group-sharings that about 75% of what I said during the explanation phase guided the conversation of the participants. It also helped that I had previously mapped out the elements of the passage that needed explaining. Question-and-answer activities tend to be free-wheeling and argumentative, especially when someone raises an issue with “what-if’s”.

At the end of group sharing, I summed up the lessons for the evening through a prayer session. Each prayer petition began with a point from the gospel reading expressed as a personal experience. Example: “The Lord was impressed by the faith of the four men who carried the paralytic. When I thought about this passage, I remembered my high school friends who somehow brought me to the Lord many years ago. Perhsps you too had someone to bring you to the Lord. Remember them now as we pray. Lord, take care of the friends who brought me to you wherever they may be right now. Lord, hear our prayer…” etcetera. I went on like this three times and then I asked the participants to share their prayers. At the end of this short prayer session (about to to fifteen minutes), we sang the Our Father and I gave them the blessing for the night.

I will try this same pattern next week with the same group. Perhaps after this year, I’d be able to develop a bible study format that our parishioners will truly find beneficial.

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