Stories are essential for our living, they fashion and fill our existence. From the earliest times we have used stories to share information and I bet that the vast majority of you as you came into church this morning shared a story from your life, from your week.
It is through stories that we learn, our children learn their first lessons and life skills through the stories they are told from their parents, or from school.
How quiet our lives would be without stories, it is our stories that bind us together.
And this morning we are celebrating ‘Bible Sunday’ the one Sunday of the year we set aside to remember the importance of the Bible and to learn anew the joy of being able to read this library of stories about God and his people.
History, parable, romance, law, heros and villains, biography, clumsy repetition and the occasional contradiction. Written by the imperfect hands of humans, but all the same inspired by God.
All of us who read and study the bible put ourselves in great risk! When we read the bible we hear the story of God and his people, we are faced with our ancestors at both their best and their worst. We run the risk of periods of disillusionment and doubt. We also run the risk of deepening our understanding, and our faith, and of receiving transforming riches with the help of Gods intellect and the power of the Holy Spirit.
We all read the bible slightly differently. The bible speaks to each one of us. And our reading changes as we do depending on our experiences and where we are in our lives at the time. Passages we read when we were younger, will have new meanings as we grow. And that is one of the wonderful things about the Bible, it is a living book. Gods living Word which aids our relationship not only with God but also with each other.
Reading the Bible is not like reading any other book. We come to the Bible to be changed, not just to gain information.
The Bible deals with the nitty gritty, it is not about the perfect people of God. It is about the imperfect, the real, worldly, the good, the bad and the ugly as well!
(Noah was a drunk; Abraham was old and a liar; Sarah laughed at God’s promises; Jacob was a deceiver; Leah was ugly. Joseph was abused; Moses had a stuttering problem and a short fuse; Miriam was a gossip; Gideon was afraid; Samson had long hair and was a womanizer; Jeremiah and Timothy were too young. Naomi was a widow; Job went bankrupt; David wasn’t even considered leadership material – his dad didn’t even consider him. Then he committed adultery; Solomon was too rich. Elijah was burned-out and suicidal; Jeremiah was depressed; Jonah ran from God; Hosea’s wife was a prostitute. John the Baptist ate bugs; Martha worried about everything; the Samaritan woman was divorced, more than once; Peter denied Christ; Thomas doubted; Zaccheus was short; John Mark was rejected by Paul; Paul himself was too religious, plus, he was a murderer, as were Moses and David. And of course, Lazarus was dead.)
Whether we like it or not, it is our history. It is our story. And in its people we can see ourselves also.
The Bible tells us the stories that we need. Not just what we want to hear, but also the stories we do not want to hear. The stories that help us to live, help us to die, help us believe that we will live again.
It teaches us of our calling, our call the be in relationship with God and in relationship with each other.
The words of the Bible change us, and as Psalm 119 says ‘Thy word is a lantern unto my feet: and a light unto my paths’.
The Word feeds and nourishes us. We are strengthened and transformed by the Word, and helps the seeds that it plants to germinate, grow and bear fruit.
We are unbelievably lucky to have such free access to the Bible and to a worshiping community. And we should learn not to take this for granted. We should take every opportunity to open the Word of God and to allow it to change us into the true people of God.