Gospel of Luke Study
Last week white at a liturgy conference in Collegeville, I had lunch with a lay leader and a deacon, both from ECMN. The lay leader had recently refinished a piece of furniture. As he stripped back layer after layer of accumulated paint, he found the wood underneath to be surprisingly beautiful. As our conversation moved on to the importance of Episcopal Christians rediscovering Jesus and his way, I couldn’t help but see the connection. As we gather to read, listen to, and discuss scripture together, we can strip back layers of cultural baggage, political co-optation, misquotations, and bad translations to find the beauty in Jesus’ life, words, and way.
While he is away on vacation, Bishop Loya has asked me to share this invitation with all Minnesota Episcopalians: this fall, you are invited and encouraged to gather in small groups to read and study the Gospel of Luke.
As we look toward the lay-led, clergy-supported future God is calling us to grow into, we recognize that nothing could be more important than deeply rooted disciples who spend time with God each day in prayer and study Jesus' life and teachings.
You can undertake this study at any time, and in numerous ways. The intention behind this invitation is to supplement and ground, rather than supplant, the formation and outreach opportunities you're already engaging in with your communities.
Over the years I’ve found that having ground rules and using a study guide that gives just enough historical and cultural context for each passage being studied—as well as some good discussion questions—makes all the difference. These elements enable Bible studies to be accessible, lay-led, and participatory.
The Bishop and I suggest you use the Interpretation study guide written by Thomas W. Walker. It’s available in paperback ($12.99) as well as on Kindle ($12.34). The guide has ten chapters that participants can study over ten weeks, or in any sort of format that works for each specific group. If cost is a concern, please be in touch with Bishop Loya and we can assist.
There are numerous study guides for Luke, and each has advantages and limitations. Since every interpreter of scripture has important insights and blinders, I’ve listed five commentaries below for those who want to explore additional perspectives
- Fred B. Craddock: Luke: Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching (Companion commentary to the study guide by Thomas Walker)
- Justo Gonzales, Belief series: Luke: A Theological Commentary on the Bible
- Luke Timothy Johnson, Sacra Pagina: The Gospel of Luke (Catholic)
- Amy Jill Levine, A Feminist Companion to Luke
- Cynthia A. Jarvis & E. Elizabeth Johnson: Feasting on the Gospels: Luke, Volume 1
If a group from your church wants to do an individual or corporate retreat, A Retreat With Luke: Stepping Out on the Word of God by Barbara E. Reid, O.P. is a wonderful resource. In it Luke and other characters in his Gospel speak to the reader in the first person, sharing important insights about their life and historical setting, and ask the reader key questions like, “what is God asking you to let go of?" "What stands in the way of deeper discipleship for you?” Enterthebible.org is another wonderful resource where users can learn more about any biblical book, chapter, or verse.
I suggest that each group meeting open and close with prayer and includes time for members to share prayer requests. If you would like to lead a group and would like some help with facilitation, Kathy Hagen, a lay leader in ECMN, and I will be offering three live evening Zoom sessions on how to facilitate a small group:
The sessions on August 3 and September 7 are an introduction, and the session on the 17th will go more in-depth for those who would like that (though the first is not a pre-requisite for the second). These will also be recorded if you cannot attend.
I hope you find studying the Gospel of Luke in community to be transformative. Please let me know how your congregation's study of Luke is going, and what you are learning. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or want a brainstorming partner.
The Rev. Blair Pogue
Canon for Vitality and Innovation