* Mark 7 was our text last night, as I follow the Bible reading schedule I worked up for 2010. We read the whole chapter. The Bible reading last night took well over an hour, since people comment a lot. I call it a reading instead of a study for a couple of reasons. One, “reading” seems lighter than “study,” not as intimidating for invitations. Two, “reading” seems to emphasize the text more than our effort of “study.” Or am I imagining that?

* We use the Nova Versão Internacional (the Brazilian equivalent to the NIV, but without many of its problems), the best balance, here in Brazil, between intelligibility and faithfulness to the original text. We have six or seven hardback Bibles (you’d call them pew Bibles) we keep here at home that people can use. Some bring their own, and sometimes it’s some revision of Almeida.

* With a chair pulled in the from the bedroom, we seat seven people in our living room. So we usually grab chairs from the dining table. It’s all one open room, the living and dining areas. Removing the oversized bookshelf from the living area freed up lots of room. Last night we had six adults.

* When we had more Christians (read, our boys) in our group, we’d sing some. We don’t now as a rule. We usually dive right in to the reading. After an introductory set-up, I ask questions, people answer and pop in with their own observations. We draw some applications. At the end, I lead a prayer including people’s requests or thanksgivings.

* Leila usually takes their kids either to the playground inside our neighborhood, when the weather permits, or they watch a DVD in her room. Keeping the kids from distracting the parents is a blessing.

* Somewhere along the way people got in the habit of bringing food for afterwards. So last night we had banana bread on the table, and sandwiches, esfirras and Leila’s brownies, with ice cream left over from Sunday’s lunch.

* And folks like to talk. Around the table munching on the goodies we spent as much time as during the reading. Anibal commented that it was almost 11 p.m. when they were leaving. But it’s holiday month, so most people don’t have to work or study the next day. Usually, people leave between 10-10:30 p.m.

* Both last Sunday and last night I handed out copies of The Voice of Truth International to people that can handle the English. One person made me translate/read my poem into Portuguese, the one that was published in this last edition. They seemed to like it. People tend to have a lot of respect for “culture” and literature here.

What do you think?