Thoughts on Bible Sunday
When I was at Junior School I remember John Garnett telling our teacher that he had just completed a reading of the entire Bible. He was quite smug about it and I suppose for an eleven year old boy it was quite an achievement. Not to be outdone, I decided that I also would read the Bible from cover to cover. I set off eagerly through the pages of Genesis and Exodus and all went well until I got to Leviticus when, sadly, I abandoned the project. Trying to read the Bible from cover to cover as a way of beating John Garnett rather missed the point of why we read the Bible. I know that now!
When we read the Bible and especially when we pray its pages we enter into a loving relationship with God. As Christians, we are part God’s story and it remains a continuous story of God’s Love Affair with His people – with us! We don’t read the Bible in order to chuck quotes at others, still less to prove some argument or opinion we hold – though sadly the Bible has been used and continues to be used by people in just such a way.
The Orthodox spiritual leader, Kallistos Ware, wrote that:
The real purpose of Bible Study is to feed our love for Christ, to kindle our hearts into prayer and to provide us with guidance for our personal life. The study of words should give place to an immediate dialogue with the living Word himself – with God, with Jesus Christ.
To be reminded that the sacred words of the Bible lead us into an encounter with Christ is very important. We are in relationship with a Living God, and not just a book. An Orthodox Saint, St Tikhon, said that Whenever you read the Gospel, Christ himself is speaking to you. And while you read, you are praying and talking to him. This conversation must never be rushed.
A friend of mine once said that we should read the Bible in digestible bits rather than indigestible chunks! Modern translations of the Bible helpfully divide the text up into sections rather than chapters and one section at a time can be enough to feed our praying..
Today, we keep Bible Sunday and it is a reminder of how very important the Word of God revealed in Scripture is for our life of faith. How can we tell God’s story and be part of that story if we neglect the Bible? I love this quotation from Richard Carter, Associate Vicar for Mission at St. Martins-in-the-Fields, London. I offer it as a little Ponder Point.
“Sometimes, you just have to read the Bible with your heart.
It’s not a theory, it’s not an argument, it’s not a weapon, it’s not words.
It’s the Word made flesh.
It’s God’s love deeper and wider and more expansive than your dreams.”