(Also available as a podcast here, just click this sentence)
In my work as a contemporary Bible communicator I am regularly trying to help folks connect with an ancient book that is, let’s face it – difficult to read. Many people get given them as presents when they get christened, baptised or confirmed in a church. I’m also told that it is the most shoplifted book in the world. But it’s probably also the most unread.
So I try and make connections with ordinary life to help folks find themselves in the narrative between those wafer thin pages. I often say that if the Bible was a fruit cake you’d need a chainsaw to get thought the thing. It’s like one of those Christmas cakes that’s been left for months and just grown more and more solid. And I also liken the Bible to a multiplex cinema with hundreds of screens. There are all kinds of genres in there. Romances, comedies, action adventures, thrillers, even science fiction epics. And although many may see the Bible as a book of rules, most of what we find in there comes at us through stories and characters. You have the famous accounts of David and Goliath, or Noah and his ark – which was recently re made as Evan Almighty and will next year be in cinemas again in a new big screen epic starring Russelll Crowe.
But one of my favourite stories features in the book of Ruth. Ruth and her mother-in-law Naomi are two refugees who have lost everything. They journey back to Naomi’s home town, poor and heartbroken, to see if there is any hope left for them in life. Ruth ends up gleaning, collecting scraps discarded by the workers in nearby fields. We hear in the news every day of displaced folks around the world where war and catastrophe has made so many homeless and poor. It’s a tale that goes on and on.
The book of Ecclesiastes, on the other hand, is about a time when people are rich and wealthy and successful, and yet are full of questions as to whether life means anything at all. These are themes and tales that occur for us again and again, every day. Relevant, contemporary stories that continue to occur in our own lives one way or another. Perhaps today or in the coming week, you may get a chance to pick up a Bible and leaf through its pages and find yourself in that Good Book.