Bible Sunday : In which you get a whistle stop tour of oral tradition & the story of Scripture
There’s a maxim that goes “the country that doesn’t learn from its history is doomed to repeat it” which may or may not be the case! – What it highlights though is the need to pay attention to where we’ve come from, and to listen to what has been. As Families we often sit together, especially at significant events, weddings, birthdays, funerals, new babies, and we tell stories, “ do you remember when?” we rehearse our history – finding our place in the stream of time and story, repeating the highlights, processing the events, learning.
Today is Bible Sunday – a particular day when we take some time to recall the importance of Scripture to our lives and our faith, to remember how fortunate we are to have the Bible readily available in our own language, and to have so many resources open to us to help us understand it.
The Bible is more than *just* a story –but it is Story –it is the story of God and his people, it’s our story –
In our reading from Romans (15:1-6) Paul says
“whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, so that by steadfastness and by the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope”
Its just one verse that points to the importance of this written record of Gods dealing with his people throughout history
Knowing the story of which we are a part gives us hope and encouragement as we make our own journey of faith.
In ancient times, story was important – and none of it was written down – parents told the stories of their family and their tribes to children, elders and young ones repeated the familiar stories, and words, the stories themselves become part of the story, the good news and the bad,
Communicating the values and the faith of the people.
The Israelites were no exception to this, the stories of Abraham and of Moses were passed on, from generation to generation, each one adding in their part of the story to the whole,
In exile they began to record these stories in a more permanent fashion, beginning to create the scriptures that we know today –telling and retelling the stories of Gods dealing with his people, celebrating the good news, reminding everyone of his faithfulness and love for them all.
And in with this story was teaching, and order and rules, some to stand the test of time, and others for the time they were from, but all of them adding a bit more to the jigsaw, the picture of God and his people.
And as these stories continued to be told, there were too recorded the prophets, the people who spoke out when the story had got forgotten, or twisted or misused
Those who heard the word of God and proclaimed it afresh, proclaiming His past, his present and his future.
And through all of this speaking and listening and telling & writing, the Holy Spirit has held the threads and inspired and drawn together the story, the love of God for his people, and his calling to bring us all to a place of reconciliation and restoration.
Throughout history God’s story has spoken of justice and freedom,
Or love and forgiveness,
Of hope, and joy
And so when Jesus began his ministry, he stands up in the synagogue and begins to read from the scriptures, and he reads from the prophet Isaiah
the spirit of the lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor, proclaim release to the captives, sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour
He reads words which when they were written cut sharp into the heart of the people at the time. A People in Exile, oppressed and without justice, political or economic, a people looking for their salvation, physically as well as spiritually –and in that time God brought leaders to begin to do these things,
Jesus read words which, as he said, applied to him now.
The heart of the story of scripture, the fulfilment of the prophecies and the culmination of Gods purpose for restoration and reconciliation with his people.
Jesus himself is the one that God has anointed to do all these things –to proclaim freedom from sin, and all its effects, to usher in his kingdom where justice and mercy and freedom will prevail. Through the cross and resurrection, the purposes of God are made known and made possible.
As we hear these words again though we are reminded that we are part of this story that Scripture begins,
These words of Isaiah are for us too, as we build with Jesus for his Kingdom.
The threads of God purpose and Gods story are still drawn together by the Spirit and we are called still to live out Gods purposes and to continue his story. We are called to proclaim freedom for the oppressed -, spiritually economically socially,
We are called to proclaim release for the captives – emotionally, politically, mentally
We are called to proclaim the year of the Lords favour –the time of God to act.
Because, as it ever has been, Now is the time for God to act. He is always at work, and in this generation it is through us that he chooses to work.
We continue to tell the story that lies at the heart of Scripture, at the heart of the Gospel.
Freedom, release, Good news…
The story continues.