Before we proceed, here are three of my favorite tips in reading the Word of God.
The first tip is the most basic: Read mindfully and prayerfully. In other words, make a deliberate decision to slow down, savoring each word you read. If you skim, your reading will end up superficial, and that’s not going to help. Quiet down, breathe after every word or phrase if you must, and read deeply. As you read, ask yourself:
“Does anything strike me here? Does anything resonate with me? Anything surprising or disturbing? Why?”
The second tip is: Read between the lines. We’re used to being supplied with every single detail; sometimes we’re even told what to feel or how to react to what we are reading. That’s the way of modern genres. The Bible, however, does not engage in such spoon feeding. It gives us only the sparsest of details, expecting us to fill in the blanks. In other words, when we read Scripture, we’re expected to read not only its words, but its silences as well.
The final tip for reading Scripture is: Use your imagination. We need our imagination not only to “read between the lines” (Tip #2), but also to wonder how the characters in the stories must have thought and felt: To put ourselves into their shoes (or sandals!) and to enter into their stories. This deliberate effort at empathy is key to appreciating the Bible stories and unwrapping God’s message for us.
So, as we walk with our three Advent characters during this recollection, make sure to practice these three tips as much as you can.