The start of a new year is a wonderful time to begin a systematic program of Bible reading. One might resolve, for example, to read through the Bible in a year. By simply Googling “read through the Bible in a year,” a host of websites will pop up offering various reading plans. Two such sites worthy of consideration are Bible Gateway (biblegateway.com) and The International Bible Society (biblica.com). But the one that I have used in the past is produced by the American Bible Society (bibleresources.americanbible.org) called “A Year with the Bible.” And even though it seems more logical to begin on January 1, one could start the program any time of year.
If reading the whole Bible is too ambitious, then perhaps a commitment to read certain books would make more sense. Olive Tree (olivetree.com), a resource I have depended on for years in my pastoral work – it makes easy work of word searches and passage lookups – offers two such plans: “30 Days Through the Four Gospels” and “Through the Psalms and Proverbs in 155 Days.”
From time to time people ask me about various translations of scripture and which I might recommend. I have two, the first being the Oxford Annotated New Revised Standard Version (there are multiple copies in the church library). As the name indicates, this version includes helpful notes on terms and passages conveniently located at the bottom of each page. Plus, the New Revised Standard Version is the handiwork of the best in biblical scholarship, assuring readers of accuracy and faithfulness to original manuscripts. And then I really like Eugene Peterson’s The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language, a paraphrased edition of scripture. Talk about putting it in the vernacular, consider this example of Peterson’s free use of idiom from Isaiah 6:4-5:
The pivots on the thresholds shook at the voices of those who called, and the house filled with smoke. And I said, “Woe is me! I am lost, for I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; yet my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!”
The foundations trembled at the sound of the angel voices and then the whole house filled with smoke. I said, “Doom! It’s Doomsday! I’m as good as dead! Every word I’ve ever spoken is tainted – blasphemous even! And the people I live with talk the same way, using words that corrupt and desecrate. And here I’ve looked God in the face! The King! God-of-the-Angel-Armies!”
Whatever version you choose to use, the point is to use it! Reading God’s Word on a regular – daily – basis is critical to our understanding of God, of ourselves, and of our calling as Christ’s disciples.
I write this, barely two weeks into my work as Interim Pastor at Broadmoor, our nation has just completed another general election. Joe Biden is our new president.
Needless to say, it was a contentious election sharply exposing the divisions among us as Americans. Unfortunately, this is no new thing for us, only more pronounced, and just as exhausting. The whole thing drags us down and wears us out.
Not all of us voted for the winning side. For those who did, I would pray a measure of grace, remembering that we belong to the God of love, a love which is “not boastful or rude” (1 Corinthians 13:4). For those who didn’t, my prayer is for an equal measure of respect for the democratic process yielding this outcome.
As we approach January’s Inauguration and changeover of administrations, it is also my prayer that we will begin to join hands as a country, setting aside our differences and finding new ways of working together. There are so many problems facing us, Covid chief among them, and there is no way we will be able to address them unless we are united.
With God’s help, I believe we can find this higher ground.
Rev. Dr. Donald Frampton
Don Frampton, a native of South Carolina and graduate of the University of South Carolina and Columbia Theological Seminary (D. Min), retired in 2019 after 24 years as Senior Pastor of St. Charles Avenue Presbyterian Church in New Orleans. Later in the year, he was named Pastor Emeritus by the Session. Prior to coming to New Orleans, Don served as Pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Rockingham, North Carolina; and Associate Pastor at First (Scots) Presbyterian Church in Charleston, South Carolina.
Mission expenditures became a hallmark of his ministry at St. Charles, an aver- age of 15% of annual budgets going to local and global causes. Through Rebuilding Hope in New Orleans (RHINO), a program begun in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and which continues, St. Charles has thus far supervised over 7,000 volunteers who have helped build 50 Habitat for Humanity homes. In 2009, the church received the PC(USA)’s highest award for community service.
His involvement with the greater church included a term as Moderator of the Presbytery of South Louisiana and two terms on the Board of Trustees of Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary. Locally, Don served twice on the Ethics Review Board for the City of New Orleans and was an active member of several post-Katrina “roundtables” of community leaders. Don’s wife, Colleen, is an RN at St. Thomas Community Health Center, a neighborhood clinic in the Irish Channel of New Orleans which sees over 300 patients daily. They are blessed with three adult children and three grandchildren.