Journeying through the Bible
The Bible is, and always has been, at the heart of BRF’s work and vision. So it’s entirely fitting that our centenary celebrations commence with the publication of The BRF Book of 365 Bible Reflections.
Bringing together a fantastically wide-ranging writing team of authors, supporters and well-wishers from all areas of BRF’s work, this resource is designed to help us go deeper into the story of the Bible and reflect on how we can share it in our everyday lives.
Following an introductory set of readings, entitled ‘Seeing God in the Bible’, the book is divided into four sections: ‘Journeying through the Bible’; ‘Journeying through the Christian year’; ‘Together through the generations’; and ‘How should we live?’ Over the next four weeks, we’ll be highlighting each of these main themes.
Time to celebrate
Editors Olivia and Karen say in their introduction:
The BRF Book of 365 Bible Reflections is a celebration.
It celebrates BRF’s long history of coming alongside people at all stages of faith, encouraging Bible reading and everyday faith since 1922. Even more than that, it’s a celebration of the Bible itself and how it continues to speak into people’s lives today.
The overarching theme for BRF’s centenary year, ‘Sharing the Story’, can be understood in a variety of different ways – referring to the Christian story in its broadest sense, to the story of the work of BRF and its ministries over the past century, and to the stories of God at work in the lives of countless individuals through the centuries before that.
A book for everyone
This book contains a Bible reading and reflection for every day of the year. It’s designed for people at all stages of faith, for people who already know something of BRF’s work and for people who don’t.
Our vision was to have each reflection written by a different contributor, and so we ‘shared the story’ between a large team of writers: those involved in BRF’s ministries past and present, readers, supporters and well-wishers. We also included a section of reflections taken from the archives of our Bible reading notes. The result is a glorious range of different perspectives on God’s word.
‘A glorious range of different perspectives on God’s word.’
The long list of contributors includes Archbishop Justin Welby and a raft of bishops, including Rachel Treweek and Emma Ineson; poets Angela Ashwin and Ann Lewin; writers immersed in the Celtic Christian tradition and the new monasticism; members of Christian communities from Iona to the Society of St Francis… the list goes on, full of riches.
While the vast majority of reflections has been specially written for this volume, there are some classic pieces from writers who have been much-loved members and associates of the BRF family but who are sadly no longer with us, including Rachel Boulding, Shelagh Brown and Brother Ramon.
To give you a taste of all that there is to enjoy and reflect on in The BRF Book of 365 Bible Reflections, here is Graham Tomlin’s reflection from the first section of the book.
Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, who were talking with Jesus. Then Peter said to Jesus, ‘Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.’ He did not know what to say, for they were terrified.Mark 9:2–6 (NRSV)
Many cinemas offer the experience of 3D viewing. If you have previously watched two-dimensional films, suddenly, by wearing a set of special glasses, a third dimension is opened up before you on the screen, bringing a greater richness and depth to the whole experience.
In this passage, Jesus, who normally appeared just like another human being, another first-century rabbi, is suddenly transfigured before the eyes of his closest friends so that they can see an extra dimension of his being. It is still recognisably Jesus, but with this extra dimension of glory that they normally cannot see.
‘Within the Bible, there is a strange new world: the world of God.’
The Swiss theologian Karl Barth once wrote, ‘Within the Bible, there is a strange new world: the world of God.’ When we open the pages of the Bible, we see our usual, recognisable world. We see slavery, politics, hunger, birth and death, poverty and injustice – all the stuff of life. Yet at the same time we also see a new dimension. Slaves in Egypt are miraculously freed, kings confess their sins, a hungry crowd is fed out of meagre rations, a poor teenager becomes the mother of God, the dead are raised, widows get justice. Just as in the transfiguration, when the disciples are suddenly able to see the glory of Jesus, the Bible opens up to us this extra dimension of the presence and activity of God.
We read the Bible not just to see this extra dimension, but also to teach and train ourselves to see it more clearly in the world around us. When we lift our eyes from the pages of scripture to go about our daily business, it trains us to look more closely to see the signs of God’s presence, his action and his glory. May we see glimpses of his glory today in the ordinary things of our lives.
Graham Tomlin, Bishop of Kensington