The last few days I have been trying to bring some order into the chaos of my overloaded bookshelves. The trouble is the books themselves are distracting. Books full of memories and more importantly these books are part of my story. During this very unproductive sort out I rediscovered ‘The Divine Mentor ‘Written by Pastor Wayne Cordeiro. The opening paragraph of this book pulls you into the text, you just know this book will change how you read the Bible. As you near the end of Wayne Cordeiro’s book he outlines his method of Bible study S.O.A.P and it’s this method of Bible study that I’m going to share with you today as part of my blog.
WHAT DOES S.O.A.P. MEAN?
S. The S stands for Scripture. You physically write out (with pen and paper) the passage of scripture. You might be amazed by what God reveals to you just by taking the time to slow down and actually write out what you are reading!
O– The O stands for observation. What do you see in the verses that you’re reading?
A– The A stands for Application- this is when God’s Word becomes personal to you. What is God saying to me today? Is there an action that I need to take?
P– And finally P stands for Prayer. Pray God’s Word back to Him. If He has revealed something to you during this time in his Word, pray about it.
My personal example….
Genesis 15: 7,21
After writing out the passage it was the words in verse 11 that drew me in. “And when birds of prey came down on the carcasses, Abram drove them away”.
I used to foster little boy and rightly or wrongly one of his favorite activity’s was chasing pigeons. He would giggle with great delight as the pigeons he chased flew away. Many of these pigeons where hungry, and in search of food, some were injured and missing limbs landing on the ground to rest.
In the passage Abraham cut all the animals and two but not the birds. For some reason the birds were different or special in some way. And yet when the birds of prey came down and fed on the carcasses of the sacrificed animals Abraham drove them away.
I wonder metaphorically speaking who are the birds of prey in our communities? Is it right to deny them nourishment, to drive them away?
One thing that struck me when I read the passage again was that the sacrifice must have been a messy and noisy process. Slaughtering a 3-year-old cow, goat, ram, sheep and birds could not have been be done quietly within a community of people. The sacrifice must have been observed by others. The animals that had been sacrificed would have been unblemished, even an animal with a limp (disability) would not have been consider worthy of Sacrifice.
It opened many questions to me.
Did Abraham prepare the sacrifice by himself?
Does Sarah his wife watch the sacrifice?
What does it mean to us with disabilities to be seen as imperfect by the communities in which we belong?
Why is Sarah Abrahams wife not mentioned in this passage?
The sacrifice is at the Centre of the passage, the Centre of Gods mission to the world. I personally read the sacrifice as a quiet private event between Abraham and God. An intimate special time where Gods promise is fulfilled. Yet the woman (Sarah Abraham’s wife) who will carry and deliver that promise is not mentioned.
My thoughts are drawn to our church buildings and the eucharist. How churches are often built in the Centre of our community’s. How today they have lost their voice and seem unnoticed to the wider communities. I was also drawn to the people inside our churches receiving the eucharist (the promise fulfilled).
Today our church communities are a body of people. The broken. the tired, the happy and the sad. Abrahams community would have included the people which traveled with him: his family, his slaves and his wife Sarah, who carries and gives birth to the son they both longed for.
Members of our church families and those on the edges of faith and in our church, communities can be and feel invisible, feel as if they are not welcome. That their disabilities need to be cured. Finding spaces to listen to hear the stories of the people is just once small thing we can do.
Listening a place of love, listening to what the scripture tells us. Listening is than the gift that echo’s love and value’s the persons worth and identity. It affirms and shows people they are real, and more importantly their stories are important.
God graciously invites us human beings to be his partners, not for our sakes, but in order to fulfil his greater purpose for the entire world.
Generous and compassionate God. May we live life in a way that reflects your love and generosity to all. May we know your power moving through us. So that your Kingdom will come in the world in which we live.
New International Version
7 He also said to him, “I am the Lord, who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to take possession of it.”8 But Abram said, “Sovereign Lord, how can I know that I will gain possession of it?”
9 So the Lord said to him, “Bring me a heifer, a goat and a ram, each three years old, along with a dove and a young pigeon.”10 Abram brought all these to him, cut them in two and arranged the halves opposite each other; the birds, however, he did not cut in half. 11 Then birds of prey came down on the carcasses, but Abram drove them away.12 As the sun was setting, Abram fell into a deep sleep, and a thick and dreadful darkness came over him. 13 Then the Lord said to him, “Know for certain that for four hundred years your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own and that they will be enslaved and mistreated there. 14 But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves, and afterward they will come out with great possessions. 15 You, however, will go to your ancestors in peace and be buried at a good old age. 16 In the fourth generation your descendants will come back here, for the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure.”17 When the sun had set and darkness had fallen, a smoking firepot with a blazing torch appeared and passed between the pieces. 18 On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram and said, “To your descendants I give this land, from the Wadi[a] of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates— 19 the land of the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, 20 Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaites, 21 Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites and Jebusites.”