Thursday, April 26, 2012

Weekly Ladies Tea and Bible Study

by Valentine Cameron Prinsep, English 1838-1904,  

Here is a sample of a Ladies Bible Study class, which several readers of this blog have requested.  I do not use a lesson plan, but maybe you can get a idea of how this class is conducted, by my description here. I may, however, read the chapter on the previous evening to get an idea of some some of the discussion that it might inspire, looking for key verses that have become familiar. 

 Although other ladies host it in their homes, this morning  it will be held in my home. 

It was foggy outside but we soon forgot the gloom as we settled down inside for our weekly study. Someone will choose a song so that we can begin the morning with a beautiful blending of voices. Today we sang "God is the Fountain Whence."  It is an old song that has some lovely word phrases and poetry.

Here is a copy of the sheet music for you, and you can click it to make it easier to read.
The shaped notes in this piece are a style  invented a long time ago for people who did not read music, to help them identify the sound of the note.  Shaped note songs were published in a book in the 1800's called  "The Sacred Harp," and singers sang the names of the notes before they actually sang the words of the songs, to get everyone in harmony.  You can learn more about Sacred Harp singing by listening to this video.  

We know these songs by heart and so we do not need to pay much attention to the notes, and we have our own way of singing, which we like.  Most people in our group learn to sing by sitting next to someone who knows the songs, and of course, they all sing casually at home as they go about their day.

I usually select a lady who will greet guests at the door and hang up their coats before they choose a favorite comfortable place to sit.  The class includes grandmothers, young mothers, teen aged girls and children, with small chairs for the little ones so that they can quietly color or draw during the class.

Today we read the verses in the book of Galations, chapter 1, which can be seen at the end of this post. In these studies, we take turn reading the verses until we have completed each chapter, keeping an eye open for something of interest they want to discuss. Each person gets a chance to make an observation, ask a question, or make a comment about something they found interesting in the chapter. Each person is urged to apply the text to something in life today, and to appreciate the purpose for which it was written at the time.  I usually read a little historical background to the chapter. There are always a lot of interesting comments, but it would be impossible to relate them all here or to tell every detail of the conversation that ensued after the reading of the chapter. 

Over the years we have always chosen a book of the Bible to read, and each week, mulled over one chapter of that book. When we have finished that book, I always ask what book they want to study next, and let them choose one they are curious about that they think they might enjoy. This class was begun 47 years ago by the woman who owned this house, and each younger generation has kept it going.

Years ago I abandoned the use of typewritten worksheets or study guides or workbooks. It was expensive and hard to determine how many copies to make. If you do type out a study guide with questions, my advice is to wait til you see how many people are in the class each week before you make copies for them. These days most people have copy machines in their homes and can be more economical about how many pieces of paper to use.  Workbooks are often wasted if the student forgets to bring it, loses it, or is absent from the class.  Composing study sheets can be a burden on the teacher, when the study sheet is already there in the Bible.

  Without all that paper or workbooks, things are so much easier, because the teacher just has to remember what the next chapter is and can pick up where they left off the week before. Students do not have to be embarrassed if they lost their study sheet or if they didn't do their "homework." This way, we learn as we go, right then and there in the class.

You might wonder why someone would choose to study Galations for a ladies Bible class, which is a class that concerns the lives of women in the Lord's church.  While we have studied the "women's chapters" of Titus 2 and Proverbs 31, I believe that it is important for women to know what is in the rest of the Bible, so they can guide their families into wise living and learn to have peaceful homes. 

 The book of Galations addresses  the problem of being easily diverted from the sound teaching of the gospel. It was addressed to those who had already been added to the Lord's church  (the ecclesia, the called-out) by obeying the gospel of Christ, but had strayed from the truth, being persuaded to leave it and go back to their old religion. 

 It is a warning about how false teachers will stealthily steal the hearts of Christians and persuade them to believe false doctrines that the Bible does not teach, and how to be wary of them. It warns about listening to people who say that angels visited them and told them a different doctrine.  Wives, mothers and daughters need to know these things so that their family members have spiritual and emotional stability and are not easily attracted to teachings that will take them away from the pure word of God. So, that is why we are studying the book of Galations this next month. It is important to know what is in this book in order to be aware of false teachers who claim that the law of Christ is not spiritually binding today.

 After singing another hymn we adjourn to the dining area. This is what it looked like today as I was getting out the cups and saucers.

The Prairie Rose tea set, reserved for such a time as this 

and the pot of tea was covered with a tea cozy made by a friend, who also made the matching tea-themed table cloth quilt. 

There are several advantages to having a weekly or monthly Bible study time with women:
1. It helps us to sit still without distractions, and read a chapter.
2. We have some time to show hospitality to one another that we might not get around to doing if we did not have it scheduled.
3. The hostess prepares her house.
4. The guests get a break from their own duties at home for an hour or so, and they can bring their children with them.
5. In these classes, there is never a discouraging word.

Occasionally we welcome a video guest on the computer, via Skype, who also takes a turn in reading or commenting.

As each verse is read, think about a question or comment you might make.

Chapter 1

1 Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead;)

2 And all the brethren which are with me, unto the churches of Galatia:
3 Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ,
4 Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father:
5 To whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
6 I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:
7 Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.
8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.
9 As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.
10 For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.
11 But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man.
12 For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.
13 For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews' religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it:
14 And profited in the Jews' religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers.
15 But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me by his grace,
16 To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood:
17 Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus.
18 Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abodewith him fifteen days.
19 But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord's brother.
20 Now the things which I write unto you, behold, before God, I lie not.
21 Afterwards I came into the regions of Syria and Cilicia;
22 And was unknown by face unto the churches of Judaea which were in Christ:
23 But they had heard only, That he which persecuted us in times past now preacheth the faith which once he destroyed.
24 And they glorified God in me.


MrsSM said...

Thank you for sharing how you conduct your Bible study. I feel like I could "do" this!

Farrah said...

I love the fact that the study has been going on for so long! That's awesome!


Janet said...

Great idea! Thanks for putting together some wonderful guidelines to work around.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Lady Lydia for this example of your Ladies Bible study. Your posts are always refreshing and I have learned a lot over the years.

My only wish is to live in your area so I could attend the tea and Bible study !!

Your quidance is much appreciated, thank you.

Denise said...

As someone who attends a weekly Bible study, I can say that doing so really is uplifting and is often the best part of the week!

Lydia said...

Not everyone in the class dresses up or wears skirts, but some of them say they feel it is special enough to warrant wearing a dress. I always remind them that their being in the class is the most important thing, yet they seem to enjoy wearing the skirts and dresses and dressing up a little more.

Anonymous said...

This is so good. I long to be in a women's Bible study. Nobody around here or in my church interested, though.

Anonymous said...

I love the simplicity of this style of Ladies Bible Study. :o)

Anonymous said...

47 years! What a blessing to your community. I love that you continue that legacy started by the former owner of your home.

When I was a baby Christian, I attended a ladies in home Bible study each week taught by a few older women from our church. We worked through one book of the Bible at a time. I loved those studies so much. I've also participated in a few others over the years that used current author's Bible study guides but they have never touched me as much as those years spent in God's Word. I wish I lived closer to fellowship with you! Thank you for sharing this, however. One can always start a study in our own homes and incorporate some of your ideas. Lord bless you.