As what should come as no surprise to anyone, it’s 1 January 2011. So, Happy New Year! This is my first post of the new year and my 400th post on this blog! That has little significance, but speaking of the number 400, this year we celebrate the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible. The churches in Great Britain are honouring this year as the ‘Year of the Bible’. All churches are encouraging our members and even those outside the church to, paraphrasing the voice that called to Saint Augustine, Take up a Bible and read.
The Methodist Church will be celebrating the Year of the Bible as one of the sponsors of Biblefresh. It’s a campaign to 1) get people to read the bible, 2) train people to better understand the bible, 3) raise money to help translate the bible into other languages, and 4) experience the bible in new and exciting ways. This is one of the things I have been most looking forward to about the new year. My worship leader at Wilpshire (Helen) has already got very excited about it and is trying to think of ways we can get people at church reading the bible.
Continuing my theme of how the Christmas story has been misunderstood, I think that the Year of the Bible and Biblefresh may be one way we can confront the poor storytelling we sometimes encounter in the church. Studies are showing that biblical literacy is down (even among regular church attenders) and that is something that can be remedied by reading the bible! Taking a step back from ‘Away in a Manger’ and all the nativity plays, we can return to what the stories in the bible actually say.
One of the things I am becoming more convinced of is that we need people in our churches to understand these stories we profess to believe in. I get a little uncomfortable when we talk about the need for evangelism when it is distanced from discipleship. How can we take the stories of the gospel of Jesus to people who don’t know it if we don’t know it ourselves?
So I hope you will all join the Methodists in Great Britain in celebrating the Bible, in particular by reading it. I hope to post on here resources I find, and I am going to start with this one: my friend and former circuit colleague, the Rev. Phil Gogh has started blogging and will read through the bible in a year, posting his thoughts. He is currently the minister at Leyland Methodist Church in the Chorley & Leyland Circuit. Phil has a great way of making connections with his illustrations, so I highly recommend his new blog! You can find it here and his first post here.