Through the Bible in a Year – January 3

Genesis 5-7; John 3; Psalm 5-6

Our readings in Genesis continue in the mythical world of the first 11 chapters. In it deep and mysterious foundations are laid. Ancient Archtypes set forth – male and female – evil and good – pastoral life vs that of the city and more.¬† In these ‘times’ human life is long – always in Scripture a sign of blessing – and the lives described are large in every sense – from Nimrod, to Noah, from Methuselah to the Nephilim, there is a sense of the serious grandeur of human existence.

Such serious grandeur and deep themes we choose to largely live unconscious of, indeed modern life often seems designed to obliterate these deep characteristics of the human story – along with any story about a God whose ways are not ours in one form or another. This is not a game solely for atheists or indifferent agnostics – Christians are all too fond of taming ‘God’ and living out of synch with such Reality. A God who refuses to live by a simple code, or at least one known to us, and who expresses regret that he ever conceived of humans . . . yet one catches his eye, through whom he considers a new beginning might be made

As we come to John, we find Nicodemus out of his depth – in a Genesis 6 darkness. The teacher of Israel is blind – and faced with One who demands the impossible of him – that he is born a second time. ‘I had no say in my birth – how can one be born a second time?’ Jesus calls Nicodemus to the full seriousness of Life – something Other, Older yet ever new.

As of old God wiped the slate clean, to start afresh, now also in Christ a New beginning is heralded, but with a twist – not that the world might be condemned, but Astonishingly, that the world might be saved through him. And like Noah was mocked, so too ‘He testifies to what he has seen and heard, but no one accepts his testimony’

The world of Genesis 1-11, might be strange, but surely no stranger than our own. Take time to dwell upon Archetype – Myth – the Seriousness and Grandeur of Life, and one who says we ‘must be born again’

Through the Bible in a Year – January 2

Genesis 3-4; John 2; Psalm 3-4

From our first readings – with the declaration that ‘it was very good’ – our reading from Genesis enters highly ambiguous territory.

The Choice is made to eat from the tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil. There are many ways that this can be understood, but in part it becomes clear that living in a world of ‘freedom of choice’ is not all we are constantly taught it is nowadays.

Through Choice, the Man and the Woman  find themselves in a world where nothing is at all easy, plain sailing, happy. The ground will only yield its fruit through toil and sweat, new birth will be accompanied by pain, and there will be war between the offspring of the serpent and the Woman

But even in the midst of the Worst that this choice brings forth, the murder of Abel – it becomes evident that God will continue to work, and in mysterious ways. Life is not simple and God’s actions in the protection of Cain suggest that for all our choices look like either Good or Evil – God is at work to transform the outcome of even the worst of human choices.

So one comes who will transform the worst that humankind can do into the finest wine. We hear an echo in these readings of Josephs words to his brothers. We cannot see a way though, a way of hope in the darkness we often choose, yet ‘Even though you intended to do harm to me, God intended it for good’

We are not the Great players on the Stage we believe we are, indeed the stage itself is impossibly being rebuilt in and through Christ, The Player . . .

The Psalms throughout are prayers in the midst of this ambiguity and adversity – and we should be very very slow to take from them by prissy editing as some are wont to do, lest in the midst of this ambiguity we have nothing to pray

Psalm 4 is one of the evening Psalms – in the midst of it all, in the midst of all or flawed, ambiguous and even evil choices, we remember that this story is not ours, but Gods

‘I will lay me down to sleep and take my rest, for it is thou Lord only that makest us dwell in safety’

Through the Bible in a Year – January 1

Genesis 1-2; John 1; Psalm 1-2

Our opening readings are about ‘Beginnings’, so very appropriate for today, and So very appropriate they are. For they set the foundation for everything that is to come, and indeed encourage us to open our eyes to all that Is.

John opens his gospel deliberately to announce the New Creation that is in Christ, or perhaps better, that Christ is the fulfillment of the ancient Genesis text. ‘All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being’ [NRSV]
A reminder for us that New Life in Christ is All encompassing.

These things are literally ‘too wonderful for us’. There are only two ways we can respond truthfully to this Glory. Initially we Must give up on trying to ‘get our head round these words – then either despair, or turn to God in trust. We can either flee from that which comes to us, or choose rather to stay put – to sink our roots into the bank of the streams of life giving water, these Deep Origins which are all at once past, present and future. Meditate on this Word. Allow it to come to birth in us . . . and so develop a hunger for more.

Psalm 1 sets our heart straight, that we might receive life. It is the necessary precursor to all Scriptural reading. We Pray – then we Read – then we Meditate on our reading, and then it brings forth the fruit of praise