The world has been turned upside down with the coronavirus 2019. I live in Washington State, ground zero for the United States. The nursing home at which it broke out was less than two miles away from my former home in Kirkland, where I lived for 23 years.
While on the way to work in Seattle on March 5, my husband received a message that his office was closing. He had to turn around and head home. Several school districts closed for a day for cleaning. Everett Community College, where my son attends, and other institutions of higher learning moved all their courses online.
The host church for our homeschool co-op suspended our use of their building for three weeks. Arrow Academic Center, where my daughter takes classes on Tuesdays, had the students wipe down the tables and chairs between classes.
Then on Thursday, March 12, our state governor called for all the schools in the three most populous counties to be closed from March 17 to April 24. The following day, he closed all of the schools in the state and restricted gatherings to 250 people or less. The closures snowballed as more businesses and organizations were told to shut down. Eateries were restricted to take-out service only. Many religious groups opted for virtual worship on March 15. “Social distancing” entered our vocabulary. Quarantine has descended onto the nation.
30 Million Kids out of School
In response to the school closures, parents of public school children posted their panic: How are the kids going to continue their education? On one of the South Whidbey Facebook pages, a few other homeschool moms and I responded to these cries for help with suggestions.
I lean toward academic advice, but wiser homeschool moms recommended unschooling—child-led education. During this stressful time of uncertainty, kids need to unplug from regular schedules, textbooks, and worksheets—if the schools weren’t providing learning materials, be it physical or digital.
Let the children dig deep into a topic of passion with books on hand (the libraries are closed, too) and on the internet. Read a novel together as a family. Explore your backyard or the beach. Visit museums through virtual tours. Travel on a virtual safari with the Cincinnati zoo. Listen to the Seattle Symphony on YouTube. Bake cookies or plant a garden. Write poetry or the Great American novel. Focus on education that delights.
Family Bible Study
In my last post, I wrote about students’ religious liberty in the public schools. Now the schools are closed for at least six weeks. This quarantine period may be God’s way of freeing up time for families to study the Bible together. With everyone stuck at home, parents can practice Deuteronomy 6:6-7.
These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.NASB
Originally, God planned for parents to be the primary teachers of their children. Instruction about God was to be incorporated into daily life.
Biblical Ideas Illustrated Via Video
In a post I wrote last fall, I described how my family read the Bible together. Here, I’d like to introduce my readers to another resource that our church is currently using: the Read Scripture app, a joint project of The Bible Project and Crazy Love. This app helps you read through the Bible in a year with a Psalm for each day. You can start the program at any time, however, not only at the beginning of the calendar year.
Besides the scripture text, the app contains short videos from The Bible Project. For instance, before you start reading a book of the Bible, you can watch a video that gives you an overview of the book. In addition to discussing the main events or ideas in the book, these videos look at the book’s literary structure and how it fits into the mega narrative of the whole Bible.
For some books, the app provides thematic videos as well. For instance, before reading Genesis chapters 4-7, the app shows a simple 2-D animation called “Image of God.”
Two men, Tim and Jon, narrate each video and also engage in conversation to discuss issues that the text addresses. One asks questions or makes comments, and the other responds and explains.
Videos Enhance Understanding
I have gained new insights into how to read scripture from these videos. Even though I was a literature major in college, I never was taught, nor have I noticed that each book of the Bible has a literary structure. I knew some did.
Recently, I learned the literary structure of the book of Ruth. The narrator also pointed out how the book demonstrates how God works through ordinary lives. The book is more than a historical account of the lives of Ruth and Naomi, the ancestors of King David and Jesus.
The thematic “Holiness” video increased my understanding of what that word really means. Using the sun as a metaphor, Tim and Jon explain that at the right distance, the sun gives life. But get too close, we burn up. In the same way, people who approached God in an unrighteous state die not because God is destructive, but because he’s so good. His very nature of being holy destroys any impurity or evil that enters his presence, just like anything that gets too close to the sun gets burned up.
Crazy Love Reflections
To increase your understanding of the scripture reading, you can also listen to the Read Scripture Podcast by Francis Chan. These podcasts are not included in the reading plan. To access them, you need to go to the Settings of the app and scroll down to the “Listen to Read Scripture Podcast” on the menu.
The Crazy Love podcast contains more content than the Read Scripture podcasts. You will need to scroll down to where it says “Week 1” (dated 2017). Each of these weekly podcasts run about ten to twenty minutes. In them, Francis Chan reflects on the past week’s reading.
The Bible Project Augments Any Bible Study
If you are not interested in a year-long Bible reading program, I still highly recommend that your family watch some of The Bible Project videos together. They add dimension to some dry texts such as the Law and can increase your comprehension of whatever scripture text your family is reading.
In addition to the book-overview and thematic videos, The Bible Project has several video series: “How to Read the Bible,” “Luke-Acts Ministries,” “Torah,” “Wisdom,” and “Spiritual Being.” Learn more about biblical words through the Word Studies series.
The website says The Bible Project audience typically ranges from ages 18 to 45, but my kids enjoyed these as high schoolers. I believe middle schoolers and even younger children may benefit from watching them. Often kids find reading the Bible boring. These videos could enhance your children’s interest in reading the Word of God.
Don’t let this abnormal time of being home as a whole family be wasted by everyone doing their own thing. Call the family together each day to read the Bible. Discuss a passage’s meaning, what it says about God, and what you can do to live more like Christ.
In the comments, please share your own experiences or insights from studying God’s Word together as a family.