During every Nativity Fast, I offer my spiritual children and parishioners an exercise in Scripture which I call “The New Testament Challenge.”
It’s really not all that challenging, but for someone who has never read the entire New Testament before, it is an excellent time for just such an exercise.
- If you begin on Nov. 15th, you will do the 40 day schedule.
- If you begin on Dec. 1, you will do the 25 day schedule.
- Both schedules complete their readings on Christmas day.
This makes the entire Nativity Fast a time of real devoted ascetic effort and spiritual growth. It is especially appropriate (in my opinion) as the term Advent, basically implies a preparation and anticipation of the Second Coming of Christ. Notice, on Christmas Day, one is finishing Revelation!
Now, you may say “Who is honestly going to read half – or the entire – book of Revelation on Christmas?” Well, that’s what the 12 Days of Christmas are for! 😉
I recommend that all preachers and clergy offer this to your parishioners during the Nativity Fast. It is a great time to do it, and this is a wonderful thing to promote RIGHT NOW!
In any event, if you want some activity for parishioners to do together to count down the days of the Nativity Fast, some spiritual exercise for them to stay accountable to, and some endeavor for you to present alongside their efforts, the New Testament Challenge is my offering to you.
You can download the form in PDF format by clicking the image above.
This is a great exercise, and I find that often it gets folks who have desired for many years to read the New Testament on target to doing so for the first time. It’s a great fellowship builder also, as I try to get those who are reading together during our Fellowship Hour on Sunday, so they know they aren’t alone, and to provide a little impetus to keep on schedule.
It doesn’t matter to me if they finish – though that is the goal. The truth is, I want them to start.
You may have heard the old Irish saying,
“Well begun is half done.”
You can actually blog about the entire experience yourself.
You’ll get a more attentive audience, I can guarantee you, if they know you are reading along with them, noting (ahead of time, of course, so you can blog about it) impressions and spiritual dimensions of the readings they will be with you every step of the way. Beginning such an enterprise takes commitment and devotion, but if you really aren’t sure what to blog about, and you just can’t figure out what to do – the New Testament Challenge is an excellent blogging exercise for you, and your fellow NT readers.
Be sure to announce in your weekly bulletin AND from the pulpit that you will be doing this, so that your people will know what you are doing, and so they can join you on this journey. Be sure to pass out copies at Church.
And join you they will.
There is an Old Testament Challenge also, but that’s for another time, and is far more intense.