Monday, 22 September 2008

Living words

I’m being reminded that Bible study need not start with the text and then seek to apply it to our situation. It can begin with our situation and seek out what may speak to it from the Bible.

The most simple illustration came a little while ago with the growing Youth Group which our Curate has been nurturing. One evening we leafed through a week’s supply of the local newspaper. They pulled out the stories which struck them most. There was a ‘have a go hero’ who’d defended a young mother who was being attacked in a supermarket Car Park. There were drugs raids. And, most importantly to them, there was an asylum seeking school friend who was being expelled from the country.

I hardly had to ask ‘which bit of God’s story helps us understand all this?’. The newspaper’s headline writer and their RE teacher had already done the work, and they could tell the story in their own words. We ended up with three pictures on the church wall for our Family Service. The mother who’d been attacked was labelled ‘a man was on a journey when he was attacked’. The helmeted police were labelled ‘people were frightened to get involved in case they caught a disease or something’. The asylum seeking family was labelled ‘but someone else helped even though he was from another country’.

It doesn’t always fall into my lap quite as easily as that. But this was what I was on about when posting on 7th September about preaching at Funerals. And our Reader in training preached helpfully on Sunday about the victims of the credit crunch and the parable of the workers hired for different lengths of time but each paid a living wage; like our Youth Group members, he provided twists which made the passage more challenging for me.

So the message to myself this month appears to be that I really ought to get back to doing much more of this myself. This reminder and resolution might also be an important part of the design for the radical revamp of our Family Service provision about which our District Church Councils have been enthusiastic this month.

The picture is a return to the surprisingly substantial surviving fragments of decoration at Byland Abbey.

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