(Amos 8:1-12; Psalm 19; Colossians 1:15-28; Luke 10:38-42) – J G White
11 am, Sunday, July 21, 2019 – UBC Digby
This month I happened to hear a radio documentary on The Saint John’s Bible. At the start of the 21st Century, some artists and scholars produced this large copy of the Bible, in English, in the ancient way. Printed on calfskin vellum, it was all written by hand – calligraphy – with many illustrations by artists, called illuminations. It is large – it is in seven volumes. Like the Bibles of old, made in the monasteries, the illuminations used not only ancient inks but gold leaf and silver. They use the imagery and people of the contemporary world, in this case, the dawn of the third millennium.
I found the story of this Bible so inspiring. It was commissioned by a Benedictine college in Minnesota, Saint John’s University. Also, two hundred copies of it were produced, for sale. So the Saint John’s Bible does get to be read and seen by many people around the world. Saint John’s Bible
A project like this makes us remember there were days gone by when books were rare. There were no printing presses, not to mention computers and printers. Each Bible was copied by hand. The word of God was rare in those days. And so special.
I’m having a Bible-focused Sunday again, today, with four scripture readings. First, from Amos, prophet to the prosperous kingdom of Israel of old.
Amos 8: The time is surely coming, says the Lord GOD, when I will send a famine on the land; not a famine of bread, or a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD.
Is hearing the word of God rare in our day and land?
Is there hunger, yet, for real words from God?
Will there be such a famine, in our day?
What was the problem in the days of Amos?
What’s our problem?
Psalm 19: The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
The statues of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the eyes.
God and God’s word is revealed in more than one way; not just the Bible. And how we explain the Bible are not just with words and study and research and books and essays and sermons. It also comes alive for us in art. Such as these illuminations.
I’m not sure why, but there is something so powerful and moving for me as I explore some of the images from this gigantic, modern Bible.
Where have you seen God, amazingly, in the Bible?
Where have you seen God, in incredible ways, outside of reading the Bible?
Colossians 1: …to make the word of God fully known, the mystery that has been hidden throughout the ages and generations but has now been revealed to his saints.
The Church today faces this challenge in lots of creative ways: the challenge of making the word of God fully known in the 21st century. Amid the online preaching, the trendy technological city churches, and the fresh expressions of Church that meet in coffee shops and tattoo parlours, there are things like the Saint John’s Bible. Ancient and modern, at the same time. I like this story about it…
A volunteer, named Jason Engle, was taking copies of the Heritage Edition of the Bible around – those 200 copies of it that were made. He often, on trips, would stop on his long journey in the evening, for a bite to eat at a McDonalds restaurant. One night he did this, after a presentation in Chicago, stopping late – just a few folks in McDonalds. This young fellow comes up to him and says, “Hi, my name is Michael, are you a Christian?” Yeah, says Jason. Michael says, “Well, I’m homeless; wanna have dinner with me?” “Yeah, sure.” And a conversation begins.
Michael tells Jason a lot of his life story. And he shares a gift – he quotes poetry he has written for God. After a while, Jason says, “I have a gift for you.” He goes out to the trunk of his car, and brings out his copy of the Saint John’s Bible, first volume.
He starts showing it to Michael, who is amazed at this. Then an elderly woman in the restaurant looks over. Then one of the teenage staff. She goes out back and brings another staff person. They are all looking through, at the artwork, but then they want to hear it read, what the Bible says. So they get reading.
Eventually the manager of the McDonalds comes out, frustrated, because all the teen staff are gathered at this table out there! Reading a Bible.
What are ways you can see the Bible getting known around here, today?
Luke 10: Mary… sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he was saying. But Martha was distracted by her many tasks…
“…there is need of only one thing.”
Nowadays, I read this story, and think it is about balance – having balance in our lives. The balance between being a Christian who studies the Bible and being a Christian who lives a busy, day-to-day life. Often, many of us are like Martha, and the one thing we need more of is simply to pay some more attention to the Lord. It might mean more Bible; it might mean more praying.
Your next step, this summer, could be one of two things: ONE: know the Bible more yourself.
TWO: share the Bible more, for others.
What do you think your calling is, this year?
Make the word of God fully known!