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Letter to parishioners, 22 October 2021

Friday, 22 October 2021

Dear Friends in Christ,

This Sunday is the Last Sunday after Trinity, the end of long ‘green season’ that began on the day after Pentecost. Traditionally this Sunday is known as Bible Sunday. It is an opportunity for us to reflect upon the value of scripture in our daily lives.

Every Sunday we hear readings from scripture. The readings we hear come from the Church’s Lectionary, a calendar of readings which help us journey through the teachings, the signs and the events of Jesus’ life and ministry on earth. Sometimes the readings we hear are familiar to us, whilst sometimes we wonder if we have ever heard them before. Sometimes we feel that we fully understand the words of scripture, whilst at other times we feel confused and uncertain. Very often our weekly encounter with the scripture selected for us by those who compiled the Church’s lectionary is the only time when we allow ourselves to be confronted by the living word of God.

Scripture should be at the very heart of our faith. We are called to not just possess a copy of the Bible but to own every word it contains. The Bible offers us consolation and instruction, just as it offers guidance and criticism. The Bible challenges us to set aside our self-serving human way of living in this world and to place God at the centre of all we do. The Bible shows us the error of our human ways, just as it show us, through the life of Jesus Christ, how we might live the life of true faith by emulating his way of offering love and service to all.

The Bible is a library of sixty-six books which encompasses the whole gamut of human experience and how that experience sits alongside the teachings of God himself. In the many words of the Bible we hear how humanity so often gets it wrong, just as we hear of how God offers his forgiveness and the gateway to eternal life. The story of God’s gracious love for humanity is found in the Bible, and that is why it is worthy of a day in the Church’s calendar when we pause to reflect on what it should mean to each and every one of us.

One of the greatest challenges we all face when confronted with our unopened Bibles is how and where to start. The one thing that is known to most of us is that we do not open at page one of the Old Testament and keep reading to the end of the Book of Revelation. The Bible is not a novel. The Bible is a collection of writings that encompass history, the law, the teachings and works of the prophets, the wisdom of God, poetry, the Good News of Jesus Christ (the Gospels) and correspondence that offered teaching and doctrine to the early Church. To read from page one of Genesis through to the last page of Revelation would only serve to confuse. So, where should we start?

There are many Bible reading methods available but I would suggest that the simplest and most instructive way of engaging with scripture is to read one of the Gospels … it does not matter which one you begin with! The Gospels were written by four different evangelists who approached the recounting of Christ’s earthly life from four different perspectives. Each Gospel takes us deep into the life, the teachings and the works of Jesus Christ, the one and only Son of God.

This Sunday is Bible Sunday. Let us not wait for 1st January to make a new year resolution. Let us begin this Sunday by taking the Bibles that may well be gathering dust on our bookshelves, opening them at the beginning of one of those Gospels, and let us slowly and prayerfully engage with the earthly life of the one who came from heaven to save us all from the sinful ways that stand as a barrier between us and God. And … as we read, let us constantly give thanks and praise to the God who loved us so much that he sent his only Son to build a bridge that no one else could build.

With every blessing to you all,

Revd Stephen