I've been meeting with the South Whidbey lectionary study group for about 6 weeks now and find myself enjoying it more each time. The group is comprised of two Lutheran pastors, one Episcopalian retired rector, one United Methodist pastor, one Catholic priest, one House of Prayer pastor, and me. The HOP pastor and I represent either end of the theological spectrum, though I suspect if we were all standing on a teetertotter in our continuum of belief we'd be tipping to the left, with Rev. HOP somewhere right of center. He is a great guy, though, and represents his religious tradition faithfully but not bombastically.
My colleagues in this group are all male, which I thoroughly enjoy. They are respectful but not overly politically correct and they sometimes hog the conversation, yet I am relishing both the Bible study and the interfaith nature of our association. I feel very welcome in their company; I expect a time will come when they want to know more about my theological stance, but right now I'm contributing to the discussion from my own experience and feelings about the readings and am not challenged by anyone.
I've never been a gungho Bible scholar, though the Hebrew and Christian scripture classes I took in seminary were among my favorites. I find that the larger picture of the development of Judaism and Christianity as represented in the Bible is more compelling than remembering the many dates and kings and minor-seeming events of those centuries.
And there are so many small moments in scripture that say more to me than all the exegesis in the world: Moses seeing God's backside, when God said to him "if you see my face you will die, but wait here and you will see me as I pass by"; the still small voice in the burning bush; and the reminder "what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love mercy and to walk humbly" ; the Syro-Phoenician woman who challenges Jesus with her flung-back remark about the puppies getting the crumbs from the rich people's table---and he changes his mind and his mission; the way Jesus must have felt as he failed over and over again to get his message across, even to his disciples; and the most important commandments of all------to love God and to love neighbor as self.
My island colleagues love to tease out meanings from the passages we study and I enjoy hearing their take on each passage. The Methodist guy is very sharp and well-schooled in Bible exegesis and he poses questions and challenges to us all, without looking down his nose at our lesser abilities. The men all tend to interpret the scripture from a "hard" point of view, that is, very intellectual and theologically based. I tend to offer observations that are "soft", that is, from an experiential, feeling place. And I think that's valuable, though they look at me with surprise at times. I don't know what they think about my comments; I haven't been shouted down or disagreed with, but it may yet happen.
So far I haven't seriously disagreed with anyone about an interpretation, though Rev. HOP is quite conservative. They are quite Trinitarian, which is fine, but today we studied the passage in Mark that says "The Lord Our God is One" and I resisted mentioning the apparent Unitarian stance here and nobody else seemed to notice it!
Anyhow, it's fun, it's stimulating, and I'm in a group of colleagues who support each other and share our lives as ministers in this community. That's enough in itself.