Bible sunday


United 4 Benefice Service 11am St Peters, Flyford Flavell. HC.
Col 3.12-17, Matt 24.30-35.

Listen along!

 

Today in the churches calendar we mark Bible Sunday. On this last Sunday in October, this date also coincides with reformation Sunday observed in the Lutheran tradition. When I visited Germany last year as part of the diocese curate exchange program, the Lutheran churches were busy preparing to celebrate the 500-year anniversary of Luther nailing his 95 these on the door of the Castle church. The day for celebration will be this Tuesday the 31st in Wittenburg, eastern Germany and they are expecting thousands, if not millions of visitors.

Luther’s most important theological contribution was the idea of the priesthood of all believers. He firmly believed that ordinary people should have the chance to read often and well in order to understand the faith. Luther broke away from the tradition of writing in Latin and instead used the language of the common tongue much to the distaste of the Papacy. Thanks to Luther’s translation of the Bible, it became possible for German-speaking people to stop relying on church authorities and instead read the Bible for themselves. Luther argued that ordinary people were not only capable of interpreting the scriptures for themselves, but that in doing so they stood the best chance of hearing God’s word. He wrote, “Let the man who would hear God speak read Holy Scripture.”

Today, we almost take for granted that we can pick up a Bible and begin to read it. In fact, there is a wide variety of translations from which to choose such as the NIV to the Message. Not only are the paper books but online versions too. Smart phones now have apps which can hold not just one translation but many in your pocket. So, like the old Martini advert, we can read the bible anytime, anywhere, any place!
But the question is, do we? Do we take time to read the Bible or is the only time we hear the Bible is on a Sunday?
Such questions as these arise when as we celebrate Bible Sunday. And the passages today from Colossians and Matthew serve as reminders of the point of reading the Bible.

In Colossians, we hear Paul telling us to ‘Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly’. What does this mean, dwell richly? Well some would say that this means to not just read the Bible as one would read a novel or a newspaper but to take the words into our hearts, mulling over them and live lives clothed in Christ’s compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. To love and forgive one another just as Christ shows us how to. This is the strength we draw from reading the Bible. For reading the bible not only draws us closer to God but empowers us to be guided by His will and His love. As Pauls says ‘whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God’. Now you may say, I have read the Bible and I know its stories. That’s all well and good but you are missing out. When we return to the Bible and what people have written about the Gospels, we find there is more to explore and discover. As a church, a Christian community, when we study the bible together our different gifts draw out meaning and apply them to church life as well as the communities in which we live. Sharing the Gospel with those we don’t know is not any easy task, neither should it be taken lightly. When Paul speaks about being clothed in love, he knows about the huge effort and courage it takes to live out the Gospel in a world that sees Christianity as a nothing more than a fairy tale, a crutch for the weak willed and who can’t stand up for themselves. Through being clothed in Christ’s love means to offer genuine, authentic friendship. A friendship that loves unconditionally and does not expect anything in return. Such friendship shows the Gospel at work in our lives and in our speech. What we say does matter. Moreover, how we speak matters even more. For some will only hear the Gospel, the good news of Christ. I was reminded of this last Friday while waiting in the Post Office in Pershore. There was an older man asking for the dates of the last Christmas post. When told they were on the notice board, he replied he couldn’t read. This is an extreme example I know but I wondered how would such a person fair in our church services where we use the written word all the time. Would they feel welcomed?

Yet welcoming all people plays an important role in following Christ. So, what can be done if we do not feel skilled enough in knowing the Bible? There is a huge range of resources out there to help with reading the Bible such as notes from Daily Light; study bibles and the internet has large range of resources not only to read but to listen too. I can also recommend the Bible read by David Suchet. His dulcet tones really bring the Bible to life. However, the most important action you can take is to make a little time, just a few minutes a week to read a passage and do it prayerfully. Allow the words to seep into you, mull them over, question what they mean for your life and ask God to show what He means you to understand.

Today, Bible Sunday, we focus on the word of God as revealed in holy Scripture, this wondrous gift of the Bible God has given us for all time. For as Jesus said in Matthew, Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away. Jesus’ words speak to us today as they did back then. All we have to do is listen and rejoice in God’s generosity for giving us the scriptures as, in the words of the Collect, we read, mark, learn and inwardly digest them.

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