Changing the unchangeable..
When I arrived in my office yesterday, a parcel was waiting for me. With some degree of excitement I ripped off the packaging to reveal a shiny, new, leather-bound Bible within. As a professional communicator and a preacher, I guess it is akin to a plumber unwrapping a new tool, or a builder fetching a new van. I hesitate to add that it also has rather larger print – as the font in the other ones seems to have shrunk in the past 13 years! It was high time to change, as the other one (pictured below) had become so bashed that it had turned into a loose-leaf version, especially where the letter to the Galatians was concerned.
I shall miss the old one.
- We have travelled together to India, Pakistan and Serbia
- Stuck inside the front cover is a copy of the 10 commandments in Serbian – a reminder of the two dear friends who gave it to me every time I open it.
- I have gripped it nervously in my hands as I wait at the head of the aisle for many a bride to make her way to the front
- I have gripped it just as tightly as I stand at the lectern for funeral services – looking out at the pinched faces of grief and knowing that there is comfort to be found in its pages.
- I have quoted from it as I have taught groups of preachers about refining their craft, mining its pages like diamond miners, looking for something which will sparkle and shine.
- I have smiled at its wisdom, savoured its comfort, and occasionally been stung by its challenge.
- John Chapter 19 is irredeemably crinkled from reading it at an open air Good Friday service as the rain poured down on reader and listeners alike.
When I am talking to new Christians about the Bible, I encourage them to underline passages which are important to them on some particular occasion, and write the date in the margin. That way, each time they see the underlining and look at the date, they will think back to why it might have been important then, and why it could still be important now. Its all about forging synapses – neural pathways which connect right and left, present and past in the brain.
I have been in something of a dilemma about whether or not to transfer all those markings form the old Bible to the new one. In the end, I have decided against it. Testimony, like manna, is best taken fresh. The old one will find a place on my shelves, but now is the time to start writing a new story of faith. As you can see below, it has started already…