RESPONSE: Nah, you aren't stupid. Like anything, Bible study takes practice and tools can help. When I first attempted a regular study routine, I didn't think I got much out of what I read either. But actually, good stuff was getting in (and coming out in my life) without my realizing it. The discipline of sticking with it, even when it was difficult, helped me became more familiar with the layout of the Bible. And although I, too, often couldn't pinpoint an overriding theme from the Lesson, certain passages did tend to stick with me or pop back into thought when I needed them.
But to begin to really enjoy the study, I tried different things that helped me find more substantial meaning. I learned off the bat that it's not important what the lesson may mean to others. It's important that it mean something to me. If your Bible study is in a rut or if you are having difficulty staying focused, you might try one or more of these ideas which helped me to perk up my study life.
- In the back of the big Complete Concordance to the Writings of Mary Baker Eddy is an Appendix B that list the Bible citations Mary Baker Eddy used in her other writings (Prose Works, Poems and the Church Manual). There is an appendix B for the Science and Health part, too, but often those passages appear in the Bible Lesson already. I found it helpful to look up whatever Bible Lesson citations appear in other places in her writings. This further reading can help expand the application of a Scriptural passage in new ways.
- Online comparative Bibles can be very helpful, too. I have worked with many over the years. But my current favorite is www.bible.cc. If there is a verse that seems "Greek" to me, I look it up on that website and find another translation that is more understandable. It's fun to look up well-worn passages, too, for a fresh take on the familiar. A lovely feature of this site: When you click on the translation you like, it takes you into the text so that you can read the entire passage in context. At the bottom of each individual citation page there is a collection of highlights from various Bible commentaries that sometimes offer helpful background and context for the passage, too.
- One of my favorite tools for studying the Bible Lesson is the mybiblelesson.com version available by online subscription (you can get individual Lessons, too) through the Christian Science Publishing Society. My Bible Lesson is designed for youthful thinkers and readers - I figure that alone counts me in. It is colorful and has sketches and captioned photos and research that I find helpful to expand on the ideas. I also like the format of having the Bible passages appear to the left of the page, and correlative passages from Mary Baker Eddy's Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures on the right. I find this layout particularly helpful when I try to identify why and how a particular passage from Science and Health illumines the spiritual sense of a Bible passage or story.
- Much as I enjoy the tools available for reading the Bible Lesson in printout form, nothing beats putting in my metal markers and using blue chalk to prepare my books for study. There is something about glimpsing what I will get to study during the week that gives me a feeling of anticipation and expectation of good. And that half hour I give myself on Sunday afternoon to prepare the books pays big dividends all week long. The ideas that have most meaning for me from the study often aren't even in the lesson. They are in the verses above or below the marked passages, or on the opposite page, that leap up and smack me with insights that meet my need. That's when the study stops being "the" Bible Lesson, but becomes "my" Bible Lesson - God's Word speaking to me.