This month, a new group is meeting called ‘Where do I begin?’ It’s a whistle-stop tour of faith for those just starting, and for those in transition. Tonight it’s on Sacred Stories, and we’re going to start by clearing away some of the cobwebs around what scripture is and isn’t. Here’s where we’ll begin.
Things worth knowing about the Bible:
1. The bible tells stories about God’s relationship with God’s people.
2. The stories are told in ways that made sense to the people who first told them. The imagery, the words chosen, the names, the symbols — they all reflect the best language God’s people could find at the time to express what they were experiencing of God.
3. The stories are told in ways that can make sense to us too, but things aren’t always as they seem.
4. God is not afraid of our questions.
5. God’s people can learn, and do learn. God sometimes helps us to change our minds. There are stories that contradict each other in scripture, and big ideas that are fought over through its pages. What remains constant is the witness of people trying to make sense of the world in relation to a God who is both love and justice.
6. God is bigger than scripture.
7. Just because something does not appear in scripture doesn’t mean that it is not of God. There are no stories about the rainforest in Scripture. There are no polar bears. That doesn’t mean God isn’t in the rainforest, nor that being a polar bear is a departure from God’s plan.
8. God meets us in scripture. As we pray with the polar bears, we might find that a psalm that has been sung for thousands of years says exactly what we need to say. Scripture gives us stories and words and images that become our own, as we become part of the story of salvation.
9. Jesus is the Word of God. Not stories about Jesus. Not the gospels. Not what Paul said. Jesus. Human beings are endlessly elusive. We believe that Jesus truly shows us God, and shows us God completely, but we are still learning what that means.
10. The big story matters more than the little stories. The big story is that God loves us into being, and gets frustrated with us when we make a mess of the world, but goes on loving us and doing whatever it takes to give us life. The big story is also that God wants us to join in the loving and the doing, to give life to others.
Bonus: The book of Genesis is not the oldest story. It was not the first thing written. It took God’s people many centuries to learn to say that there was only one God, and that God was the creator of all. They learned this only when it seemed they had lost everything.