Friday, 27 February 2015

Better than a dusty old book

March 2015

How many Bibles do you have in your house?   Most houses have acquired some: the Bible presented at school, an old family Bible, a baptism or wedding present.  And, of course, Bibles are available free on-line.  So why aren’t more people convinced that Jesus is all-important?

Surely (some would say) if God really wants us to believe in his Son he’ll have to do better than give us a dusty old book!  Could he arrange for some writing in the sky, personally addressed to me?  Or answer my prayers in a miraculous way?  If his Son was willing to put in an appearance in the 1st Century could he perhaps show up again in the 21st Century, here in England?  Or could God send someone back from the dead to give us some clarity about the life to come?

Jesus once told a story about a man who, having failed to prepare to meet his maker, ends up in hell (Luke 16).  When he realizes there is no way out for him, he starts to worry about his five brothers who, he suspects, are going to end up in the same place.  Could someone be sent back from the dead to warn them?  When he is told that his brothers can easily read their Bibles he makes a final plea: “No!  But if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.”

How many people today feel the same?  Miracles done in front of other people or in a past age don’t count; I demand evidence individually presented to me before I will believe.

The punchline in Jesus’ story is striking: If the five brothers “do not listen to Moses and the Prophets (ie the part of the Bible that they already have) they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.”  The irony is that Jesus knows that he himself will rise from the dead and be seen by hundreds of eyewitnesses, yet many will still refuse to trust in him.

Because the Bible can be a difficult book to understand we regularly offer opportunities to join a small group where its message is clearly explained and questions can be asked.  If you ring or e-mail me I will happily tell you when the next group is getting together.


Graham Burrows 

Monday, 2 February 2015

Baptism Pictured

February 2015

The candle flickered as William blew dust off the yellowed paper.  It must have lain hidden behind the rafters of their little one-room cottage for many years.

Uncurling it William saw the crest of Lord Grace who lived in the manor house at the head of the valley.  The neat writing was badly faded but it appeared to be about the entry into service of a child.  He was “from this day forward, without end, to be available as required for work in the house, on the estate and elsewhere” and, if necessary, “to defend the property and family of Lord Grace”.  He was expected to report regularly to the House for instruction.  But these were no ordinary terms of service; William, in amazement, saw that Lord Grace was promising that this child would “enjoy the rights and privileges of a son” and, in time, a full share in all his estate and wealth.

At the bottom of the paper, under the signatures, was a date – why, the paper was nearly as old as he was!  And then suddenly a terrible thought pierced William’s mind.  He held the top of the paper close to the candle flame and peered hard at the faded name.  And there it was: William Marshall.   He was the child! It was his own Father’s signature at the bottom!  Why had he never heard about this? Why had his parents not told him about his obligations while they were alive?  To think he had struggled here in poverty all these years unaware of his benefactor!

What should he do?  Put the paper back and pretend he’d never seen it?  But surely Lord Grace had not forgotten?  If he was in deep trouble now how could it help to add further years of indifference?  But how could he turn up at the manor house after all this time?  He sat for an hour or more unable to do anything.

And then William remembered the promises.  He didn’t deserve them, but he had heard that Lord Grace was both severe and generous.  Even after all this time was there a chance that he would still honour his promise and welcome William as his own son?  Might he forgive?  The thought burned within him as he rolled up the paper, tucked it into his waistcoat pocket and grasped the door latch.

Graham Burrows