Knowing the Scriptures Better
At the recent series of Visitations at which Church Wardens were commissioned Bishop Julian took the opportunity to introduce what he has called his Bible Challenge. Concerned that folk in general, and Church folk in particular, seem to be less familiar with the Scriptures than they perhaps once were, our bishop's challenge is to all of us, that we might make time, each day if possible, to read and meditate upon some portion of the Bible.
Of course for many people daily Bible reading is a habit they developed years ago, while of others it is principally through listening to the word being read during worship that they have become familiar with the Scriptures. What is important, is not so much how often we read, but that when we read, or hear the word being read, we do so with an enquiring mind, not being afraid to ask questions or even to take issue with ideas and concepts which we find difficult or disturbing.
St Paul in 1 Timothy 3.16 suggests that 'all Scripture is profitable for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness', and so it is, but we ought to approach it intelligently and with an awareness of the changing world in which we live. It is also important to remember that the Bible is far from monochrome, and contains a great variety of writing styles including Wisdom, Poetry, Prophecy, and Letters, as well as History; although the History it contains may not necessarily be presented in the way in which we are used to receiving it today. So care is needed, but at the same time it is undoubtedly true that the Bible provides us with a window onto our faith like no other; as the psalmist writes, 'Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path'.
In order to help us rise to his challenge Bishop Julian has commissioned a booklet, 'Knowing the Scriptures Better', which is being provided free of charge to anyone who would like one, and they will be available in church in the next few weeks. Also, we have bought a number of Bibles to be kept in the pews, so that, in church at least, God's word will always be close at hand.