Thank you to all those who worked so hard to organise the great Burton Sports Day, and especially to those who fixed the weather. And thank you to whoever chose the theme for the decorated floats: ‘Favourite Books’. When that was announced it was clear that St James’ Church had to enter, and there was never any question about which book our float would feature. But why is the Christian church so keen on a rather long, old book?
We all understand when people are attached to other publications:
- A man who receives a letter from his new fiancée will keep it close to his heart.
- If you go walking on the fells you keep your map to hand not buried at the bottom of your rucksack.
- I get out the bread maker instruction book nearly every evening because I still can’t remember how much water is needed for each recipe.
- Perhaps you have a favourite novel. You’ve read it already (maybe more than once) but you will read it again and will delight in things you hadn’t fully seen before.
- While junk mail goes straight in the bin, a letter with significant news, whether telling you to visit your doctor urgently or inviting you to a job interview, will be read many times.
The Bible is all of these things and more: the maker’s instruction book, a reliable map for life, a letter from someone who loves us deeply, shockingly dreadful news – and almost unbelievably hopeful news, a book with a single, complex and intriguing plot whose depths and wonder will never be exhausted no matter how many times you read it.
There was a time when the people of Britain were described as ‘A People of One Book’, when even the thought and speech of atheists was Bible-saturated. Nowadays much of the Bible is unfamiliar, and we can be astonished to find that it doesn’t endorse our 21st Century Western thinking.
But as Moses warned his people, “They are not just idle words for you – they are your life” (Deuteronomy 32:47).
This is a book that still has power to transform people, families, villages, even nations.
It’s our favourite book.