Practicing Sabbath and Scripture-Reading In Community

This past Monday, August 27, 2018, The King’s College launched the second year of the Public Reading of Scripture initiative to a standing room only crowd in the City Room.

Students at a church fair
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This past Monday, August 27, 2018, The King’s College launched the second year of the Public Reading of Scripture initiative to a standing room only crowd in the City Room. Each Monday at noon (excluding holidays), students, faculty, and staff gather together to eat lunch and listen to Scripture read aloud. Scripture readers may be students, professors, staff, or alumni. In between each lectionary passage for the week, readers allow around a minute of silence for reflection.

While Public Reading of Scripture is an ongoing initiative, the practice of pausing in the middle of a busy day fits hand in hand with the 2018-19 spiritual life theme, Sabbath. Each year, the student body president’s cabinet selects an idea to bring focus to the cultivation of Christ-likeness. Dr. Dru Johnson contributed the idea behind this year’s theme, says May Overmyer, the 2018-19 student director of spiritual life.

On the decision to focus on Sabbath this year, Eric Bennett says, “Sabbath rest regulates us as humans, habitually focusing our trust in God’s provision, relieving us of constant obsessive focus on our own lives, and originally meant to equalize Israel, offering rest from labor to slaves and free, young and old, animals and humans, and natives and immigrants. Eventually, the gathering of God’s people became a habit of Sabbath rest as well.” Bennett challenges students to consider, “How do we practice Sabbath and what are the consequences of neglecting it?”

Other practices of Sabbath rest include participating in a local church body or making it a point to contain academic work to six days in the week. This year, 18 NYC churches attended the annual church fair during the first week of classes, and record numbers of King’s students stayed around to chat with pastors and church representatives. A group of students at King’s also host Refuge, a twice-monthly worship service on Thursdays, to provide another avenue for communal prayer and worship, and most Houses organize Bible studies for their members.

At this past Monday’s Public Reading of Scripture, Sarah Fox (PPE ’20) served as one of the readers. “The Public Reading of Scripture helps me to develop a stronger bond in my relationship with God and it re-affirms my admiration for the school’s spiritual values,” Fox says. “I was honored to read the Scripture for the student body. It was a humbling to present myself as a vessel for God to reveal His truth to others.”

“The spiritual community at King’s was a strong motivator for me to come here for college,” says Lillie Finch (Humanities ’20). She admits that she felt awkward in the quiet pauses between readings, but the silence “trains you to listen—listen for the promptings of God, listen to the questions raised by the passages, or simply meditate on the things that were just read.”

“There is something very special about college students making time in the middle of their day to listen to Scripture being read together,” she says. “We are encouraged after to do something with the text we have now heard, not just let it collect dust in our minds, and we are surrounded by people to keep us accountable.”

Grace Croley is an alumna of King’s (MCA ’17) who now works as guest experience coordinator in Admissions. She says that “Over the last year, attending Public Reading of Scripture has allowed myself and the King’s community as a whole to set aside a specific time of our week to listen and reflect on the living word of God. By hearing the verses out loud, the words of truth begin to feel more active than by simply reading them in my head.”

Support for Public Reading of Scripture is generously provided through The Grace and Mercy Foundation. The next reading will occur on Monday, September 10.

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