by Karrie Zylstra Myton
I took my first Disciple class when I was still a baby or, at least, that’s how it feels to me now. I know I’ve taken 3 classes, all at Mason United Methodist Church in Tacoma. I took them while I lived with my grandmother in North Tacoma when I was in my twenties before I had my first child and when I had two bouncing dogs I loved like the moon and the sun. The last class I took when my oldest son was an infant at least twelve years ago.
For those who may not know, Disciple is a 32-34 week course published by Cokesbury through the United Methodist Church. The same group independently reads the Bible with a study guide 6 days a week. The group then comes together in a 2 and a half hour session to discuss, watch videos about the material and prepare for the next session. We also pray for each other daily. The first year’s course reads the entire Bible: 17 weeks in the Old Testament and 17 weeks in the New Testament. The other courses focus on specific parts of the Bible like the prophets or the letters of Paul.
I don’t remember individual verses or passages from my classes over twelve years ago. I remember struggles with passages and with the study material’s interpretation of the passages. I remember meeting at a leader’s gorgeous house where it sat perched above Old Tacoma, looking out over Commencement Bay. I remember experiencing torment in my personal life during one Disciple course and struggling to contribute to the class or even continue on.
I remember watching other members of the class as they wrestled with the texts and the details of their own lives. I remember, perhaps more than anything, the closeness that I developed with the people in the classes because we held each other up, talked of things that mattered deeply, and celebrated with each other for a year of our lives.
Starting a new class now is daunting. It feels a bit like going back in time twelve years. It feels like touching on the scary time I knew when my world turned upside down. It also feels like facing those fears and noticing that, oddly enough, even some of that scary time had joys wrapped inside.
This piece, then, is my messy blessing on our next Disciple class. May it carry us through to spring 2014 and beyond. May we wrestle with the Bible and with other people’s ideas like Joseph with God in the tent. May we follow and come to love like Ruth followed and loved her mother-in-law. May we embrace faith like Mary in her mission to have Jesus. May we find healing in this next Disciple class even as we face the pains of the past, present and future. May we find a joyful surprise waiting for us at the tomb like Mary Magdalene, and then spread words of love to others. Amen.