Miss Esther glanced at the clock. “Oh! We have ten minutes before the others arrive! We’ve had such a lovely time talking that I forgot to watch the time.”
“No trouble at all!” Beverly sprang from her chair. “Can I help with the dishes? I think…” She looked up at the high counters with a smile. “That’s one thing I could do?”
The group chuckled at her quiet humor.
“You’re a dear!” Susanna took her place at the sink. “Could you dry? I’m sure we can have them done in seven minutes!”
Beverly pushed a chair up to the counter beside the sink and took the towel Pricilla handed her.
The next ten minutes were a whirl as the friends cleaned the kitchen and took turns making quick dashes to the washroom to brush their teeth. Priscilla and Dorothy pushed the kitchen table to one side and pulled out some more chairs. Miss Esther settled Cashew and Carrots upstairs in Susanna’s room for some rest time. At last they were ready.
“Thank-you everyone for your help!” Miss Esther brushed a hand over her forehead with a happy smile. “We made it!”
There was a knock at the door and Susanna moved to answer it. Soon the room was full of swirling skirts and tails. The sound of Priscilla tuning her cello was swallowed in the cacophony of voices of various pitches.
There was Sarai from the Tea Shop next door and Mrs. Manny Memories from the Southern Mission. Martha and Mary from the Bethany BreadHouse were there too, not seeming to feel out of place at all. At last Rosie Bear came in with Lydia Bunny.
The group was so full of hearty chatter that Miss Esther had to clap her hands to get everyone’s attention. But they quieted instantly and looked at her expectantly.
“Welcome everyone!” Miss Esther’s smile echoed her words. “We’re so glad you’re here! How about we start by singing a few songs?” She looked to where Priscilla sat with her cello. “Do you have a number for us, Priscilla?”
“Let’s do hymn number 35.” Priscilla smiled even as her eyes sighted the music carefully. “Does everyone know ‘The Bible Stands’?”
Heads nodded all around and Priscilla began the introduction. Miss Esther watched the music and then lifted her hand to signal the group as to when to begin.
“The Bible stands like a rock undaunted Mid the raging storms of time;…”
The friends were used to singing together. After the first verse, they began to sing in parts: soprano, alto, high tenor and high soprano.
“That was lovely!” Miss Esther looked up from her hymnbook with a smile. “Which one shall we try next?”
One hymn and then another was suggested. All too soon Miss Esther had to call them to a halt.
“Friends, that was beautiful. Just the uplift my soul needed after a full first part of the week!” Miss Esther began collecting the hymnbooks. “Mrs. Memories, would you mind praying for us? Then we’ll split into small groups to share quiet time thoughts.”
“I’d be glad to.” Mrs. Memories bowed her head. “Lord, we thank You for being so very good to us. Open our hearts to the truth of Your Word tonight, we ask. Help us to build up and encourage each other. Most of all, help us to think of Jesus, our wonderful Savior. In Christ’s Name, Amen.”
“Amen.” Miss Esther gave Mrs. Memories a warm smile. “Thank-you.”
Manny Memories had walked with the Lord for many years. She had taught Miss Esther many things that had helped Miss Esther in her walk with the Lord. A year before Manny had encouraged Miss Esther to start the Bible study and had agree to come along once in awhile to provide a helping hand as the opportunity arose. And it had!
Miss Esther organized everyone into small groups to share quiet time thoughts and then did the same for Scripture Memory. Finally they were all back in their places to start their Bible study time. Susanna handed around the new books and exclamations of excitement were heard all around.
“We’ve done question-and-answer Bible studies before, but this study is different.” Miss Esther motioned with her hand. “We’re going to learn how we can study a single verse of Scripture. This particular method is called the AEIOU Meditation Method. It will help us know how to think carefully about God’s Word.” She paused to let her words sink in. “And once you learn how it works, you can use it on any verse in the Bible.”
Miss Esther adjusted her seat and reached for her Bible. “Let’s look up John 1:1 in our Bibles. Lydia Bunny would you read it for us?”
“Sure!” Lydia Bunny found the verse and took a deep breath. “‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.’”
“Thank-you, Lydia.” Miss Esther reached for her pencil. “The ‘A’ step in this method is to Ask Questions. What questions can we ask and answer from this verse?”
There was silence for a moment.
“We could ask ‘What was in the beginning?’” Martha Mouse’s whiskers twitched. “Then the answer would be ‘The Word was in the beginning.’”
“That’s excellent, Martha! Let’s all make a note of that on our study page on the lines beside the letter ‘A’. What other questions can we ask and answer from this verse?”
Once the group had asked and answered several good questions from the verse, Miss Esther led them on to step ‘E’. Together they emphasized different words, taking notes in their books about what stood out to them as they did so. In fact, they had so much fun sharing observations that they went down a bit of a bunny trail. But it was a profitable one as Dorothy shared some things from the Greek translation that were very insightful.
They moved on to ‘I’ and took a few quiet minutes to paraphrase the verse in their own words. Difficult as the habit was, it helped them process through the verse in a new way. Then for ‘O’ they tackled other cross references, finding other verses that related to the one they were studying. At last they reached ‘U’.
“Well done!” Miss Esther leaned back slightly. “We’re on to the last step! This one is ‘U’ and it stands for ‘You’. Is there something in this verse we can praise or thank God for? Is there an action we can take based on what we’ve learned?”
Hands went up all over the room.
Miss Esther chuckled and everyone joined her. “Mary Mouse, let’s start with you! How is understanding this verse going to make a difference in your life?”
Mary Mouse smiled shyly. “Well, I just thought I’d like to thank the Lord for being God.”
Miss Esther nodded.
“And I want to praise Him for being in the beginning.” Beverly spoke up next. “Makes such a different to know He existed before we did.”
“I’ve realized the importance of the Word afresh.” Lydia Bunny’s cheeks were pink. “I struggle with being consistent with my quiet times, but having realized that the Lord is the Word and that the Bible is His written Word, I want to make it a higher priority in my life. I’m going to try, with His help, to have a quiet time every day this week.”
“Oh Lydia, that’s wonderful!” Priscilla reached over to give the Bunny’s shoulder a squeeze. “I’ll pray you succeed.”
Lydia Bunny smiled her thanks.
“My application isn’t quite as deep.” Priscilla chuckled. “But then again maybe it is. I thought I’d like to put the verse to music so I can sing it whenever I like!”
The others shared their applications and several notes were made about things to pray for each other.
Finally it was Miss Esther’s turn. “Mary Mouse and I were thinking alike tonight.” Miss Esther gave the small mouse a smile. “I want to thank the Lord that He is God – and I am not. There is great relief in that truth.”
Heads nodded all around.
“Let’s take a few minutes to go around the circle and pray for the Lord’s help in doing our applications. Dorothy, would you start and Priscilla, would you close?”
Dorothy and Priscilla smiled their ascent and heads bowed. Everyone had a chance to pray and then Priscilla finished for them all.
“Lord, thank You for the richness of Your Word and that we can study it.” Priscilla’s voice was musical in the quiet room. “We thank You for our snack and ask for a safe trip home for everyone tonight. Thank-You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.”
“Amen.” Miss Esther glanced down at her Bible study book. “How about we each do the study on John 1:2, using this method, on our own before we come to Bible study next week? Then we’ll compare notes!”
“Sounds great!” Sarai flipped ahead in her Bible study book. “I can hardly wait to get started!”
“Me either!” Rosie Bear bounced a little in her seat.
“How about we do some stretches?” Mrs. Memories stood slowly. “I’m getting a little stiff!”
With a laugh they all joined her. Lydia Bunny had brought some popcorn with her and several of the friends gathered in the kitchen to pop it.
Miss Esther cut the apple slices and took in the happy group around her with grateful eyes. Their Bible study group had been so shy to begin with. Now they were all good friends with plenty to talk about!
Once the apples were done, Miss Esther slipped upstairs and brought her pets down to join in the fellowship. Cashew discovered he actually liked popcorn and Carrots was thrilled to see friends again.
All too soon it was time to finish the evening. With calls of good-night their friends waved good-bye and Miss Esther turned back to clean the kitchen. With the help of her sisters and their guests it was done even faster than usual.
“Thank-you for your help.” Miss Esther leaned back against the kitchen table with a happy sigh. “I think we can head to bed now.” She reached out an arm to hug her sister Priscilla. “Get some wonderful sleep.”
“Thanks. You too!” Priscilla gave her older sister a hug back.
Miss Esther watched her sisters and their guests head towards the stairs, stopping by the bookcase so Dorothy could pick up a new book to read in case she woke up extra early. Soon the happy group had disappeared, Susanna carrying Carrots up with her.
Miss Esther made sure the door was locked and checked the icebox to see if they had everything they needed for French toast in the morning.
“Yes. We have enough eggs. Thank-You, Lord!” Miss Esther smiled slightly. “And I have another loaf of bread. We should be good to go.”
Sure that all was right with the kitchen till the following day, Miss Esther made her way downstairs. Soon she was in her room. She changed into her nightgown and quickly washed her face. She took the decorative pillows from her bed and turned down the covers.
Miss Esther dropped to her knees beside her bed. “Lord, thank You for such a wonderful day. Thank You that the Bible study went so well. Guide us all as we continue to study Your Word. Grant us a good-night’s sleep, I ask. Thank You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.”
Miss Esther rose and climbed into her cozy bed. “Ahhh! This feels wonderful!” Miss Esther smiled sleepily. “Tomorrow is a new day, but I’m so glad I get to sleep first!”
And before she could think of anything else, Miss Esther fell sound asleep.
“Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.” Psalm 19:14