Following on from the Year of Mercy, the Bishop has designated 2017 ‘The Year of the Bible’. During the year, there will be all sorts of events going on to help us engage more deeply with this hugely important text for the Christian journey. If you do not do so already, I urge you to think about getting bible reading notes. These are available on the bible reading fellowship website http://www.biblereadingnotes.org.uk/
New Daylight is a particularly good one for those starting out on this but there is a whole selection on the website. For those of you who are technically minded you can even download them now straight to your phone or computer! However, if you would prefer us to order them for you please sign up on the list at the back of church and I will organise it for you. The new notes begin in January and what better new year’s resolution could there be than to spend time with God’s word every day.
The Bishop has also recommended we pray the Bible Sunday collect as a regular inspiration to us all.
Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning: help us so to hear them, to read, mark, learn and inwardly digest them that, through patience, and the comfort of your holy word, we may embrace and for ever hold fast the hope of everlasting life, which you have given us in our Saviour Jesus Christ, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen
Today the Great 50 days of Easter conclude with the Feast of Pentecost (or Whitsun in the traditional language of the Book of Common Prayer). The final layer of the Easter mystery is revealed.
This is the day when the Church celebrates the fulfilling of Jesus’ promise to send the Holy Spirit to strengthen and guide us in undertaking the Great Commission given as he ascended into heaven (to “make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”). It is, therefore, significant that our Diocesan Bishop has chosen this day to launch a new Diocesan Strategy. What better day to pray that the gifts of the Spirit will flow through our efforts to live out the challenge of re-envisioning ministry, promoting growth (spiritual and numerical) and serving the common good?
But it doesn’t stop there: the gift of the Spirit is something each baptised Christian receives, and along with it the Great Commission. As the alleluias cease, the Easter Greeting is no longer used, the Paschal candle is extinguished and we enter Ordinary Time (with its familiar “green” liturgical colour) we are also reminded that this gift is precisely to enable us to live out our vocation in the “ordinary” situations of daily life.
We have been empowered to witness to the Good News in a way that blesses those around us. You will have received a copy of the Strategy, a prayer card and a copy of Luke’s Gospel. If you have not read a whole gospel through in a while, why not take the opportunity to do so this week. It might prompt you to join members of the clergy team who will be hosting a Bible study after Morning Prayer throughout June (9 to 9.30, Mon-Sat).