Bible + Youth = Good

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A Miqra participant reading at Grace Cathedral, Topeka.

Lately I’ve been preparing for a youth event called Miqra (meek•rah) that’s coming up in our diocese. It’s a weekend retreat that was started in the Diocese of Kansas, and it centers around the Bible. One of the main activities during the event is an ongoing reading of scripture that goes around the clock. Throughout the weekend the participants read the entire Bible from Genesis to Revelation. Youth and adults volunteer to read and sign up for time slots on a sort of tag-team schedule. The reading takes 72 hours.

My first encounter with this event was in 2003, when I began as the Youth Coordinator for the Diocese of Kansas. The event had been held for the first time the previous year and had started in a very grass roots fashion. A group of youth approached their youth leader at the time, the Rev. Kelly Demo, saying they wanted to know more about the Bible. So they began to dream up an event where youth could interact with the Bible, engage with it, ask questions, and learn about God’s “love letter to the world.” Miqra was the end product, and I was somewhat flabberghasted by the concept. It was audacious but simple. Bring youth together. Put a chair and a Bible at the front of the sanctuary. Have them take turns reading the Bible out loud for thirty minutes to an hour. And while the reading continues, have a good old-fashioned youth event with games, singing, workshops, worship, great meals, and small group discussions with the Bible as the focus. And don’t forget to let the youth wander into the sanctuary once in a while and just listen to the reading.

I think the power of the event is that it simply gives young people an opportunity to encounter the Bible, and ultimately to encounter God. Miqra has had a sustained impact in the Diocese of Kansas and beyond. The event has grown for the past twelve years and has spread to other churches and dioceses as well. As last year’s youth preacher said at the Miqra event in Kansas, we shouldn’t underestimate God. Simple ideas can be very powerful if we are faithful and trust that God is faithful to us.

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