Dear Friends and Parishioners
When I wrote to you last month I don’t think any of us were anticipating the ‘circuit-breaker lockdown’ that began on 7th January. Through the media we were aware of the increasingly dire situation ‘across’ due to the pandemic, despite the beginning of the vaccination programme. Here we were also conscious of a few cases of the virus amongst our population but without ‘community transmission’. We have learnt that circumstances can change very quickly, and we pray that similarly swiftly we may return to ‘normality’ as we had enjoyed it for six months.
Another lesson we might heed is the need to keep an eye on the bigger picture. We have seen how the effects of the virus has necessitated different responses in different places, has caused unplanned situations to arise and generally meant that life in most parts of the world, and especially for our nearest neighbours, has become complex and unpredictable. We were, perhaps, overly optimistic if we thought we would be immune from those complications and upheavals.
As I write this newsletter we have almost completed The Bible Course, our parish study sessions giving an overview of the Bible which has spanned Advent, Christmas and Epiphany. Over eight weeks we have seen how the Bible is the ‘Big Story’ and, therefore, the Big Picture of God’s interaction with creation and humanity. One of the first lessons we learnt was the need to think about the context of any Bible passage. That means working out what a story meant to those who heard it thousands of years ago and then what the same story might be saying to us today. For example, Genesis chapter one is an imaginative and devout way to understand how God created everything that exists. This chapter emphasises God’s power and majesty as the principle creative force. For generations, people understood creation to have occurred as described in that chapter; then scientific discoveries offered other explanations. Today, in our modern context, we can still firmly believe that God is the creator of ‘all that is seen and unseen’ while still accepting the theory of evolution and other scientific explanations of the world around us. Just because dinosaurs aren’t mentioned in the Bible doesn’t mean they didn’t exist; they just weren’t known about until much more recently.
The next lesson we learnt from our study sessions was to keep in mind the ‘big picture’ of the whole Bible as we read individual books or verses, remembering also that it includes different genres of writing, history, poetry, instructions and philosophy, using three different languages involving dozens of authors who have passed on the inspired Word of God. Taken simply in its entirety the Bible is the story of creation (Genesis) leading to recreation (Revelation) as God continues to love and rescue a fallen world. Paradise lost becomes paradise regained through Jesus Christ, the pivotal moment in our salvation story.
Our study course is a salutary reminder that we need to keep an eye on the big picture of our lives even while we are living through the daily events of our existence. We must never be so absorbed or over-confident in the ‘here and now’ that we forget to look up and beyond our own horizons. Pandemics work on a global scale and we must keep vigilant here on our beautiful but tiny island, where even for us, situations can change very suddenly. God works on an eternal scale and by His divine grace, the darkest of days is but fleeting. Even on Good Friday when Jesus died on the cross, the afternoon sky turned black – but only for a short time. The glory of God soon overcame the darkness and will overcome this darkness of disease too.
Keep safe, keep faithful, keep reading your Bibles and looking at the Big Picture of the Big Story of God’s unfailing love.
Love and blessings