Round the Bible Revisited

Bible Challenge logoAround 1000 people accepted my challenge to read “Round the Bible in 40 days” cover-to-cover during Lent this year. We all travelled at different speeds and some are still en route, and we all got different things out of it. It was nearly always an encouragement, but the Old Testament often posed questions to us that we hadn’t wrestled with for a while.

Forty ministers, lay and ordained, wrote a daily reflection to go on this blog. They were too good to lose, so I have now gathered up their fragments into a single booklet that you can download here.

I have also produced a version of the introductory booklet (with reading plan and general bible notes) that is not tied to Lent but can be used at any time. You can download that  here, so – if you haven’t already – why not take up the challenge too and Read Round the Bible in 40 Days.

Well done, Beth!

Beth Cope has finished the RTB40 challenge, and was interviewed on the Radio Cambridgeshire Breakfast programme about her experience. The  housework got rather left behind but she valued the opportunity to read the whole thing, the difficult bits as well as the easy bits.

Beth is at around 1 hour 27 mins at http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/console/p00g5mmr

Now she’s going to go back and read it in more depth.

RTB finale photalbum

More shots of the Final Reading, showing many of the readers. It was a blessing to have so many people there willing to have a go. Thankyou!

Day 41!

A glitch in transmission yesterday meant that we missed some final words from + Stephen.  But that gives me the opportunity, writing on Easter morning, to reflect on the wonderful finale we had in the Lady Chapel. Everything went according to plan, except that I hadn’t expected to fill up with tears and a choking throat as we read the very final Amen at the end of Revelation.

The earlier chapters revisit in  a way some of the smiting of the Old Testament and raise again the issues of Rob Bell’s recent bestseller Love Wins. In the end he concludes, if I read him right, that God’s will and hope is that everyone will be saved; but his love and justice also mean that (1) he gives us free will; and that (2) if we really do choose not-God (evil, injustice, hate, harm, violence) then that will be our inheritance. Our choice. So in a way the fiery lake does need to be there, with our fervent prayer that no-one would be daft enough to choose that as their heaven.

So on Easter morning I am praying that more and more people – all people – will hear the good news of God’s love in Christ and choose that love and that life, whether they do that in a way I can recognise, or a way that only God can see and know (because he is the judge and the only one who sees all our hearts).

 Now to him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy— 25 to the only God our Saviour be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and for evermore! Amen.
Amen! Come Lord Jesus!
Amen!

+ David

RTB Finale photo

RTB finale

So here I am with Lesley-ann and Charlotte, the two Ridley students who led the final leg of our Bible read in the Lady Chapel at Ely Cathedral. They were great! And it was fascinating to hear them talking about how they encouraged each other in the Big Read by reading to each other on Skype. They’ve decided to carry on and read the Apocrypha too!

Thanks to Lesley-ann for the photo.

Round the Bible reactions – audio clips after the finale service

We had a wonderful final reading and finale service this morning, and I was going to show you some pictures, but they somehow disappeared into the ether. (Probably when I pressed the delete button – I know.)

Happily I did manage to record some of the RTB participants giving their reactions to the whole project, and you can listen to them yourself if you go to my audioboo page at http://audioboo.fm/bpdt.

(And if anyone else took some photos…)

Day 40: 1&2 Peter, 1,2&3 John, Jude, Revelation

A glitch in transmission means that you’ve got me again today, ending where we began, rather than + Stephem. But that gives me the opportunity, writing on Easter morning, to reflect on the wonderful finale we had in the Lady Chapel. Everything went according to plan, except that I hadn’t expected to fill up with tears and a choking throat as we read the very final Amen at the end of Revelation.

The earlier chapters revisit in  a way some of the smiting of the Old Testament and raise again the issues of Rob Bell’s recent bestseller Love Wins. In the end he concludes, if I read him right, that God’s will and hope is that everyone will be saved; but his love and justice also mean that (1) he gives us free will; and that (2) if we really do choose not-God (evil, injustice, hate, harm, violence) then that will be our inheritance. Our choice. So in a way the fiery lake does need to be there, with our fervent prayer that no-one would be daft enough to choose that as their heaven.

So on Easter morning I am praying that more and more people – all people – will hear the good news of God’s love in Christ and choose that love and that life, whether they do that in a way I can recognise, or a way that only God can see and know (because he is the judge and the only one who sees all our hearts).

 Now to him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy— 25 to the only God our Saviour be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and for evermore! Amen.
Amen! Come Lord Jesus!
Amen!

+ David

Read the Bible on line at Bible Study Tools. Today’s passage (NRSV) is here: http://www.biblestudytools.com/nrs/1-peter/1.html

Now what?

Congratulations to everyone who has been part of our journey, writing reflections and reading along with us. An RTB40 Certificate can be downloaded here: no cheating now! If you’d a personally signed one, just drop me an email at bishop.huntingdon@ely.anglican.org and I’ll post it out.

I’ve been thrilled with the way in which people have rallied round the idea, writing for me, accepting Bibles to read, posting comments, and all the rest. Do continue to post comments on the blog or Facebook as to what RTB40 has meant for you.

After Easter I aim to reshuffle the blogsite to set the material up to be used in any 40 day period. I am also considering putting the reflections into a booklet form for easy dowload and use independently from the internet. Do let me know if you have thoughts about how things should develop or not.

I have accepted quite a number of speaking and preaching engagements along the lines of  “The Bible Then and Now”, with various blends of material covering the history and language of the King James Bible, developments in Bible translation over the years, what the Bible means to me personally, how we could study and use it now – and so on. If you’d like me to come and support an initiative in your locality, I’d love to come and help if I can. Again – an email is the easiest way to make contact.

Have a VERY happy Easter. Alleluia!

Day 39: 1&2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon, Hebrews, James

The last of these epistles (James) is generally regarded as the earliest book in the New Testament. It was probably written by James, Jesus’ half brother, in about AD 46 – less than 20 years after the Crucifixion, Resurrection and Ascension of Christ.

From our 21st century standpoint, the remarkable thing about these letters (and most especially that of James) is that they are written BY witnesses (or not more than 2nd or 3rd hand witnesses) of Christ’s ministry and sacrifice TO witnesses (or 2nd or 3rd hand witnesses) – to a very early Church, but already large enough to have organisational and theological problems.

The three synoptic Gospels were written in the 50s and 60s and we cannot say how widely and fully they were distributed in the early Church. What Paul and Barnabas (probably the author of the letter to the Hebrews) and James were trying to do was to provide a firm basis for the embryonic Churches of the third quarter of the century to build on. We should understand this as we read them.

In these letters, Paul tells Timothy that God exhorts him and rewards his servants; Titus that God commends sound teaching; Philemon that God values human dignity. Barnabas tells his audience of the supremacy of Christ – certified by God. James extols faith that works.

Often shallowly considered as contradicting Paul’s teaching that faith is all, James is, in fact, extrapolating from the identical belief. Paul says that works without faith is not enough. Faith alone is absolutely necessary to salvation. James says that faith without works is not faith at all! Perhaps St Francis finds the formula for us all with his invitation to his disciples to ‘Go out and preach the Gospel – and, if necessary use words’.

Keith Macleod

Read the Bible on line at Bible Study Tools. Today’s passage (NRSV) is here: http://www.biblestudytools.com/nrs/1-timothy/1.html

Day 38: 2 Cor., Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1&2 Thess.

Forgiven and changed, forgiven and changed, given gifts by the Spirit of wisdom and communication, no computers or fast deliveries, yet Paul converts, encourages and loves gentiles for Jesus Christ.  Paul knows how to live by faith, not by sight.  He tries even with restrictions to be perfect in Christ to listen, and be of one mind, to live in peace.  Paul spent fifteen days in the company of Peter he saw no other apostles except Jesus’ brother James in Jerusalem.  After staying in Jerusalem he goes to Syria and Cilicia, while there he was accepted even though his reputation as a persecutor of Jesus and his followers, they  praised God for him.  Fourteen years later Paul goes back to Jerusalem taking along Barnabas and Titus, this time James, Peter and John reputed pillars of Christ’s teachings to the Jews gave their blessings on Paul’s mission to preach Jesus  Christ to the gentiles, always though to remember the poor, that  Paul was also eager to do.  However, there occurs a disagreement with Peter later on, the subject of faith or Jewish law.  Peter has a backward step it seems, and is listening to the Jews about observing the law, established after Moses received the commandments from God; the laws as set out by Jewish men in response to them many observations were established.  Peter who knew that the Spirit had been given to many after Christ’s crucifixion, he witnessed this.  Freedom, faith expressing itself through love, the fruits of the Spirit knowing that is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control.  Even the head of Christ’s church having doubts!!  This letter to Galatians’ of Paul’s has so many serious noting’s i.e. “A man reaps what he sows”.  Standing up for your faith, living in this present time, we definitely need the Bibles scripture to hold onto.

Spiritual blessings Paul is writing again to the saints in Ephesus, great words to honor the Spirit of God.  He is reflective on his conversion to Jesus and this humbled him, it drove him to think his work for Jesus was to preach the good news the Gentiles and all messianic Jews who now follow the teachings of Jesus Christ.  Paul prays for the Ephesians to be established in love, speaking the truth in love, living a life in love, shining for Jesus Christ.  He prays for himself asking that whenever he opens his mouth, wherever he might be that he Paul will fearlessly declare the gospel and be able to help people come to know Jesus without mystery, but with understanding.  Paul again is passionate for Christ and leaves the Ephesians with Tychicus who is another convert and servant for the Lord who will be their encourager in the faith.  Those who are passionate often get noticed and Paul has found himself incarcerated and in chains when he writes letters to the Philippians and Colossians.  In chains he is still proclaiming the greatness of Jesus, and gains new followers for Jesus, even in Caesar’s household, both men and women, new workers for the glory of Christ to spread and show the power of Jesus.  Paul’s thorn in his side troubles him, but he continues in the strength of Christ his Lord to proclaim the glorious riches in Jesus Christ.  He has the means to write letters of Salvation by Jesus Christ, so encouragement and thankfulness abound in his letters with the wisdom of Jesus.  He uses faithful people who trust and are devoted to the gospel of grace in Jesus Christ to carryout the letter reading.  Here in this letter to the faithful brothers and workers at close, Paul vouches for Luke the doctor as a dear friend in Christ.

Paul attributes all hindrance of the spreading of the teachings of Jesus to Satan, how often in our busy world is the devil overlooked and even God himself is given the blame fore bad happenings and event?  People are and feel the need to resort to apportion blame, it could never be them.  The two letters written to the church of the Thessalonians are relevant pointers as much to the church today as when it was written.  How wonderful when there is growth in love and more people come to worship in our congregations, the Spirit is moving and miracles happen?  But and it’s a big but, its then often that Satan arrives, and are we watchful, are we steeped in standing firm holding to the Cross of Christ Jesus?  May we always abound in the peace and grace of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Lesley Pearce

 

Read the Bible on line at Bible Study Tools. Today’s passage (NRSV) is here: http://www.biblestudytools.com/nrs/2-corinthians/1.html