From Sunday, October 2, to Sunday, October 9, the Word of God swept through Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia.
The Bible Society of Slovenia, together with more than 80 partners, held the fourth Bible Marathon – a week-long continuous reading of the Bible in which over 1,000 readers took their turn. A free translation of this year’s motto would be: “Dare to hope!”
Benjamin Siter, Bible Society fundraiser and coordinator of the event, says, “Slovenian society is very secular and lack of hope is everywhere (Slovenia has one of the highest suicide rates in the world). We wanted to show that the Bible is a book that unites believers from different Christian backgrounds and a book that brings an abundance of hope in these complex economic and political times. Only firm hope that comes from personal faith can lift our lives and bring new meaning.”
The Marathon started with prayer led by the representatives of different Christian churches. Then the Bible reading began with the New Testament. The experience of past years showed that in one week the Bible would be read about one and a half times over.
Fresh commitment to Bible reading
This year the Society conducted a survey and received a lot of positive feedback from those attending the marathon. Some people expressed their changed attitude after attending the reading – a fresh commitment to daily Bible reading and a new quality of relationship with God. One of last year’s “marathoners” wrote a moving testimony that clearly demonstrates the purpose of this event:
“I had always thought that the Bible was just an attractive book on the shelf. Last year, when our parish priest invited us to read the Bible at the Bible marathon for two hours, the invitation seemed strange, but the experience was wonderful! It didn’t matter whether the reader read slowly or quickly, loudly or quietly, smoothly or with a stutter. I experienced that reading the Bible is a prayer and that God speaks through this book whenever we read it. Throughout the week, even though I wasn’t there, I lived with a feeling that God was speaking non-stop to people in our capital. Since last year’s Bible Marathon I have begun to read the Bible every day.”
This year, people were able to listen to the Bible reading from home through live internet streaming, so Slovenian expatriates in other countries could hear the Word of God and take part in this event. About 1,000 people listened this way.
As in previous years, there were also many accompanying events: lectures, workshops and even meditative biblical dances and film showings.
The Bible on the street
This year, the event also went out onto the street in the centre of the city, where the Bible was read for a couple of hours each day. This is a very unusual sight in Slovenia and attracted all kinds of responses, many of them positive; people especially liked hearing the new common language translation of the Gospel according to Luke read from an e-book reader.
A special blessing was that the Bible Marathon replicated itself. During the week, groups of people gathered in different towns to read the Bible. Some read for only a couple of hours each day, while others held their own “mini” marathons and read the Bible for 24 hours.
On Sunday, October 9, the Marathon closed with a ceremony that included a presentation of the Psalms in the almost forgotten form of Gregorian chant. But while this year’s public Bible reading has come to an end, the Society strongly believes that this is only the beginning of God’s Word entering Slovenian life.
Video footage of the highlights of this year’s Bible Marathon can be found here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CVLcH-WcrhE
More photos can be seen here: https://picasaweb.google.com/116555556999053905543