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Seasonal Communion - Bible Sunday - October 2008
A recurrent situation: The Vicar visits a family to arrange a wedding or a funeral.
Is there any particular reading you would like?
There then ensues a rather frantic search, which if successful, usually yields a dusty but otherwise pretty pristine volume that almost invariably belonged to someone's grandmother.
I tell this tale not to mock but simply to illustrate what seems to be a fairly general attitude to the Bible. It is revered as a holy thing - it is something that it is important to have in the house - but it is not very often read. In our service on this, Bible Sunday, therefore, we focus on one way in which Holy Scriptures may profitably be read.
Collect for Bible Sunday
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 hold for ever 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.
Reading: 2 Timothy 3, 14 - 4, 5
But for your part, stand by the truths you have learned and are assured of. Remember from whom you learned them; remember that from early childhood you have been familiar with the sacred writings, which have power to make you wise and lead you to salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. Every inspired scripture has its use for teaching the truth and refuting error, or for reformation of manners and discipline in right living so that the man who belongs to God may be efficient and equipped for good work of every kind.
Before God, and before Christ Jesus who is a judge of men living and dead. I charge you solemnly by his coming appearance and his reign, proclaim the message, press it home on all occasions, convenient or inconvenient, use argument, reproof and appeal, with all the patience that the work of teaching requires. For the time will come when they will not stand wholesome teaching, but will follow their own fancy and gather a crowd of teachers to tickle their ears.
People turn to the Bible for many reasons. Some go in search of knowledge, some of wisdom. Some seek in it inspiration, others consolation, others guidance. The principle reason for reading the Bible is as part of the effort to become a more Christlike person. One of the most effective methods of reaching this goal is a method of meditation developed by Ignatius Loyola. It is a method with five main steps, the 5 Rs.
Stage 1 is Reading
Stage 2 is Recollection
Stage 3 is Reflection
The Reflection leads forward to the two final stages of the Meditation. From the Reflection come Resolutions about future conduct or about future attitudes. Resolutions in turn lead to Rededication, a prayer of commitment to carry the Resolution through.
What makes Ignatian method so effective in helping to generate a Christlike life is that it allows the influence of Christ to operate upon us at two different levels. It operates consciously through the resolutions it leads us to form. There is also the unconscious influence that comes from spending time in his company. The proof of the pudding, however, is in the eating and so the next part of the service will take the form of an Ignatian meditation.
Stage 1 - Reading: Mark 10, 46 - 52
They came to Jericho; and as he was leaving the town, with his disciples and a large crowd, Bartimaeus son of Timaeus, a blind beggar, was seated at the roadside. Hearing that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, ‘Son of David, have pity on me!’ Many of the people told him to hold his tongue; but he shouted all the more, ‘Son of David, have pity on me!’ Jesus stopped and said, ‘Call him:’ so they called the blind man and said, ‘Take heart; stand up; he is calling you.’ At that he threw off his cloak, sprang up, and came to Jesus. Jesus said to him, ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ 'Master,' the blind man said, ‘I want my sight back.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Go; your faith has cured you.’ And at once he recovered his sight and followed him on the road.
Stage 2 - Recollection
Stage 3 - Reflection
I, too, live in a noisy world, Lord. Some of those noises come from outside. There always seem to be things crying out for attention, jobs clamouring to be done. And some of the noises come from inside, the voices of the fears and anxieties that in months like the last one can rise to an almost deafening crescendo.
Stage 4 - Resolution
Stage 5 - Re-dedication
'You have no body now on earth but ours; no hands but ours; no feet but ours; ours are the eyes through which you are to look out in compassion on the world; ours are the feet on which you can go about doing good; and ours are the hands with which you are to bless men now.'
Help me to place all I am and all I have at the service of those in need, as you did.