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The 2014 Bible and BCP Challenge

Dear Friends in Christ:

The Episcopal Diocese of Northern California took The Bible Challenge in a big way in 2013. Over 1,100 readers started out reading together and many finished!

Now, I invite you to join me in a different challenge; one that combines some form of the Daily Office from our Book of Common Prayer (BCP) with reading the New Testament through, one chapter at a time, along with a Psalm and a little nugget from elsewhere in the BCP. It is a much lighter reading load than last year, and it encourages us to re-acquaint ourselves with the Book of Common Prayer as a primary resource for our personal spiritual practices. You may also want to read a brief summary of each book of the New Testament on the first day you begin that new book. This will provide an overview of the work with which you will be spending the next several days or weeks. These helpful summaries, by Bible scholar Peter Enns, are available on this 2014 Bible and BCP Challenge section of the diocesan website.

Included in the schedule of readings, in small doses, is The Outline of the Faith, commonly called the Catechism, and most of the Historical Documents of the Church. You may find the language of the historical documents a little tedious, but I wanted to include exposure to some of our Church’s foundational texts. These are not intended to be read as prayers, but rather as insights into our identity and purpose.

I am not asking for sign-ups to a diocesan list. Instead, please let your clergy know that you will be taking the new Challenge. In this way, local clergy can respond to questions or inspirations that arise. I hope that congregations will organize themselves to provide relevant support.

The daily schedule is available as a PDF on this 2014 Bible and BCP Challenge section of the diocesan website. Either print a copy for yourself or ask your clergy for a copy.

This Challenge requires access to The Book of Common Prayer. You can use an electronic version, purchase one from the Cathedral Bookshop or other bookseller, or borrow one from your parish. The Book of Common Prayer offers several “offices” from pages 37 through 140. Morning and Evening Prayer appear both in Rite I and II forms (traditional language and contemporary language). Compline (page 127) is a service before bedtime. There is also a short section called “Daily Devotions for Individuals and Families” (pages 136-140). Please start by using one or more of these “Daily Devotions.” Later in the year you may want to use Morning or Evening Prayer or Compline.

Here is how it would work using the “In the Morning” Daily Devotion, found on page 137 of the BCP:

1. Begin with the Psalm from the reading schedule for the particular day you are on
2. Continue with the appointed chapter from The New Testament
3. Pray your personal prayers
4. Pray the Lord’s Prayer
5. Close with the nugget from the BCP appointed in the reading schedule

It is that simple! My intent, hope and goal is to promote renewal of our Anglican practice of daily prayer and Bible reading, increase familiarity with our BCP and help us all enjoy the fruits of shared spiritual practice. I believe that great blessings are in store for us!

Brothers and Sisters in Christ, let us begin again: I invite you to join me in embracing the 2014 Bible and BCP Challenge!

Grace and peace,