Letter from Deborah the Associate Minister….
So who chooses these readings then….?
…..is a question I am often asked about the bible readings in church, especially when they contain lots of names that are difficult to pronounce!
The quick answer is that our sequence of bible readings were chosen by an international conference of English-speaking biblical scholars. If you visit an English language church belonging to any of the major Christian denominations anywhere in the world you will hear more or less the same bible readings. They are planned to help us celebrate the Christian year, so, as we approach Christmas, we listen to bible readings about the coming of Christ. In Lent we read about Jesus in the wilderness. As Easter gets nearer we travel with Jesus through the events of Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, and we rejoice as we hear read the stories of Jesus’ resurrection.
How was the New Testament written…?
In the very earliest years of Christianity immediately following Jesus’ death and resurrection there were no written gospels. But people told stories about Jesus, and remembered what he had said and done. And as Christians started to meet together for worship, they retold those stories in their services. When you tell a story over and over again it gets standardised so that people remember it and can tell it off by heart. Eventually, of course, those first disciples who had actually known Jesus started to get old, and died, so churches began to write down those stories of Jesus to make sure that the next generation of Christians knew them. And each Christian community wrote down the stories that were important to them, in the way that they used them in their worship.
These collections of stories about Jesus were eventually gathered together to form our four Gospels. Important letters from church leaders like St Paul were added, and became the New Testament that we now know.
So, why do we read the bible……..?
Because it is the Word of God. But what does that mean? This doesn’t mean that God wrote it, but it means that God speaks to us through it. It contains the foundational stories of our faith: the stories that help us to answer the questions, ‘Who is Jesus? Why am I important to him – and why is he important in my life?’
So, I invite you to get out your bible and start reading it. Begin with the Gospel according to Mark. Let Jesus introduce himself to you and see what happens when you get to know him.
With prayers and best wishes from Deborah
Revd Deborah Sheridan, Associate Minister.