Through the BIble in a Year – June 16

The scheme for May – June can be found here

1 Ch 23-24; Rev 22; Psalm 60-61

We come to the final chapter of Revelation. In a sense the End of Scripture – although by no means the end of our year of readings. Here we find once more a river, and the tree that our forebears ignored – the tree of Life.

It is in many regards a wonder full thing that these verses close the canon, not least because the place of Revelation within the canon of Scripture was not always certain in the early years of the church. It belinged as we have seen to that line of scriptures called Apocalyptic, and others well known to the early Christians faded from view over the first couple of hundred years of the life of the church, leaving Revelation as The Apocalyptic scripture in the New Testament (perhaps we might also squeeze Jude in there as well?)

Certainly it makes the finest of ‘endings’ – with the reader focussed on the hope and expectation of seeing Christ.

Amen. Come Lord Jesus! is our prayer – perhaps the culmination of all prayer

Through the Bible in a Year – June 5

The scheme for May – June can be found here

2 Sa 15-16; Rev 1-2; Psalm 45

From the mystical world of Jude, we are plunged deep into the book of Revelation, The Apocalypse of St John the Divine, to give it the fuller title ascribed to it by many in the church.

For many this is a book which is in some regards off limits. Its imagery is alien to many of us and of course it has always been a happy hunting ground for many who consider they have an inside line on the end of the world. But we should not avoid it.

In large part it is entirely suitable as the final book of the scriptures – for it encapsulates so much of that which has gone before. Indeed one of the reasons we may find it alien is our lack of knowledge of so much of the Old Testament, to which it contains over 600 ascriptions.

But supremely it is worthy of our consideration for its theme of the glorified Christ – the one who makes himself known to John on Patmos. John of all the New Testament writers is the Evangelist of Glory. And herein lies perhaps the key. For it is John who declares that in the crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth, the Glory of GOd is revealed. In other words in that which repels our eyes, which can only be understood by us as the darkest of scenes, the Light of God blazes forth.

So in the Apocalypse – Unveiling – Revelation – we See this glory which blind eyes cannot comprehend. And it is such that John falls prostrate at the feet of Christ. If there is no other reason for reading Revelation, it is this – that we recapture our sense of Christ as the one at whose feet we too can only fall at, as though dead, that he might speak words of Life to us.


Bible Study notes for All Saints Sunday, 2012 – Year B

Bible Study Notes for Sunday November 4th


Wisdom of Solomon 3:1-9

Psalm 24

Revelation 21:1-6

John 11:32-44

The first reading comes from what we in the Western tradition call ‘The Apocrypha’. The church in the West does not have the high regard for these writings that the Orthodox church has, perhaps to our loss? Certainly these scriptures contain wonderful treasure and reading them throws light on some of the more elusive passages in the New Testament.

For the benefit of those whose Bibles do not contain these writings, here is the Wisdom of Solomon text for Sunday

But the souls of the righteous are in the hand of God,

and no torment will ever touch them.

2 In the eyes of the foolish they seemed to have died,

and their departure was thought to be a disaster,

3 and their going from us to be their destruction;

but they are at peace.

4 For though in the sight of others they were punished,

their hope is full of immortality.

5 Having been disciplined a little, they will receive great good,

because God tested them and found them worthy of himself;

6 like gold in the furnace he tried them,

and like a sacrificial burnt-offering he accepted them.

7 In the time of their visitation they will shine forth,

and will run like sparks through the stubble.

8 They will govern nations and rule over peoples,

and the Lord will reign over them for ever.

9 Those who trust in him will understand truth,

and the faithful will abide with him in love,

because grace and mercy are upon his holy ones,

and he watches over his elect.

The texts this week are for the feast of All Saints. A day in the churches calendar which has a double apprehension – we consider those who have gone before and now dwell in the presence of God, gazing upon his face (Psalm 24:6), and in that light also consider that we who by virtue of our baptism have been brought form death to life are also ‘called to be saints’ (Romans 1:7)

That feature of gazing upon the face of God, finds a parallel in our lives as we engage in the Spiritual Discipline of Contemplation. We tend to understand contemplation from our side – that we are the ones as it were gazing upon God with the eye of our heart (Matthew 5:8), but the deepest form of contemplation in practice comes about with the understanding that we dwell under the loving gaze of God. [This is one special reason why ikons are so important]

Take time this week to contemplate the word. Read the passages set – Meditate on the word [think about what you hear, what catches your attention, what God is saying to you] – pray in response to what you are shown – Rest in the loving Gaze of God. [This is the fourfold pattern of meditative reading we know as Lectio Divina: Lectio; Meditatio; Oratio; Contemplatio]

All the readings are immeasurably rich and deep, and here we are reminded (as we should be All the time), that we do not study the Scriptures as we would study any other book – we do not ‘murder to dissect’ in the memorable phrase of William Wordsworth (a constant tendency in our technological culture, and all too often in church)[1]. Rather we study as one should enjoy a fine meal with company – savouring, receiving, paying attention to what we are being given in so many different dimensions.

If you are meeting in a group – share some of what you are given from our readings

Here are some brief questions to ponder

  1. From the Wisdom of Solomon – briefly read 1 Corinthians 3:10-15 : the reading uses similar imagery (we remember from our recent readings in Hebrews that Jesus learned obedience through what he suffered[2]) –
    1. Suffering is part and parcel of life. How might we use that which comes to us as a means of Grace?
    2. What promises does the scripture hold for those who learn from such discipline? (vs 7-9)
    3. How important has Spiritual growth and formation been in our own lives? Do we pay it sufficient attention in the church?
    4. Think once more about Bartimaeus last week – do we also ‘Want to See?’ – do we want to see Jesus? What is the place of such discipline in learning to See?
    5. Through the ages the church has taught the significance of ascetic practices. By and large these have fallen out of favour in a culture where ‘we have all we need’. Fasting has traditionally been seen as a necessary discipline for spiritual growth. In the light of our reading and our thoughts thus far, what role might it have to play in sharpening our appetite for God?
  2. From the Revelation of St John
    1. The gift of the life of heaven is to the thirsty – see John 7:37-8. Discuss
    2. How does this make sense of Jesus’ words ‘Ask and you shall receive, seek and ye shall find, knock and the door shall be opened to you’?
  3. From the gospel
    1. First re read and sit in silence before what has happened
    2. We live in an age which refuses to pay any attention to the Fact of death. Jesus is not interested in ‘keeping us from dying’ vs 37 – Discuss
    3. Why is Jesus not interested in keeping us from dying?

[1] Sweet is the lore which Nature brings;

 Our meddling intellect

 Mis-shapes the beauteous forms of things:–

 We murder to dissect.  From ‘The Tables Turned’, by William Wordsworth. (I was first apprehended of this phrase in a lecture by Eugene Peterson)

[2] Hebrews 5:8