Dear Church Family,
Last Tuesday’s Biblical Foundations gathering found us exploring Genesis chapter 1 and the first of the creation narratives in the Bible. This is not a passage that is without controversy in both the secular, post-modern world and indeed in the church, where a simply scientific overview “debunks” the passage for many and a literal reading confirms that religious types are simply brainwashed eccentrics, or even worse in the 21st century west – fundamentalists.
To approach ancient Biblical texts this way does us all a disservice - rather we must try and wear the correct lenses to help us see and grow in our reading of them. Now I know dear reader, that you understand these aforementioned lenses to be metaphorical; you are not required to seek the services of your optician! And yet, we cannot always seem to get our heads around Biblical texts that offer such wisdom, beauty, truth, and revelation about God without some spiritual contortion, that can leave us with a shaky and uncertain faith.
Christian author Rachel Held Evans writes in her book “Inspired” about the difficulties the western mind has with these texts. Referring to them as “origin stories” she helps explain the context into which the stories first emerged (remember those lenses?) and offers the reader a chance to hear what God’s Word might want to teach us in the present. Rachel offers a reminder that the Jewish scribes who began writing down the Old Testament lives and accounts were seeking to reassure a people scattered by war, oppression and captivity that they are still loved and held by God. She writes that “to demand that the Bible meet our demands is to put ourselves and our interests at the start of the story, which is one of the first traps we must learn to avoid if we are to engage the Bible with integrity or care.” (Held Evans, R Inspired – Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again Nelson Books pg. 10). Cosmological worldviews understood (the ancient world thought the dome of the sky was holding back an ocean of water from falling on our heads), and literary genres dealt with (Genesis 1 is almost songlike in its’s structure), we must allow the texts to speak as they were intended. The book of Genesis helps the reader to ask and answer the question, “Is the God of the Bible worthy of worship?” Many of us have concluded that He is.
What we uncovered on Tuesday evening was that Genesis 1 introduces us to the Trinitarian God of Father, Son, and Spirit. We also find that this Tri-unity creates the world as an act of love from the Father, to the Son, in the power of the Spirit. This means that creation is no accident – it is intended and therefore has value and purpose. When we step back and take in the New Testament picture alongside this, we also find a God who wants to dwell among his people. The Son of God walks with, talks with, knows and loves His people. A people made in the image of the Trinity: unique and diverse simultaneously. We also see a love that rescues humanity from its own mess and destruction, pursued by a love that conquers death and promises that heaven and earth will unite, where all of creation will be restored and redeemed. Now there’s a story to believe in!
These last few months have been a time where we have reminisced about how things were. Remember that these wonderful Biblical truths are your story too. You are made in the image of God – no accident or strange random occurrence. You are unique and have a part to play in this great narrative too. I would also encourage you, therefore, to look to the future. The past does tell us where we’ve come from and who we are, but we cannot go back there. Our future is unknown and yet assured in Jesus Christ. We know the future will bring change – it always does. The Bible begins in a garden and ends in a city – things develop and grow. Covid-19 will not have the final say over the world even though it seems to be controlling most of the planet at the moment. How we emerge from this time of “exile” is up to us. Will we look to the future in Jesus Christ, confident that we have a faith worth sharing with the world, in both word and deed? My prayer is that we will.
If you want to join in with Biblical Foundations this Tuesday, at 7.30 pm, then please contact me for the Zoom login details. I can even send you a recording of the last two sessions if you would like to catch up. You can get in touch with me either on email email@example.com or on 01277 514896.
It was wonderful to have our first PCC meeting last Thursday. Thank God for modern technology. We were able to discuss how we might begin to prepare for re-opening (although there is no date for this yet) and how we might continue the amazing work of The Daily Bread Café in providing food to so many households.
If you would like to donate to the parish, either regularly or as a one-off, please do get in touch with the Parish Office for more information on how to do this: firstname.lastname@example.org or 01277 262864. Your support is needed and valued!
You can collect food for yourself, or others, every Monday-Saturday from 10.15 am – 12 noon (9.45 am for Key Workers) at the main entrance to St Peter’s. We also deliver to those who cannot leave the house – just ring the Parish Office to arrange this. The food is given free of charge, but we do accept cash or contactless card donations on the door.
This Sunday's service book can be downloaded here: https://www.dropbox.com/s/uhre8jpa6tzkm8i/Eastertide%20.docx?dl=0
And the pew sheet is available here:
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As ever, please get in touch if there is anything I can help you with – prayer requests, food deliveries, or simply just a chat on the phone. Please sign up for the parish blog for weekly email updates. Go to www.huttonparish.com/blog to do this. The parish Facebook page can be accessed here: www.facebook.com/huttonparish for all our online services.
With every blessing,