In 1800 a poor Welsh girl called Mary Jones walked 26 miles to buy a Bible. The story of her walk inspired Thomas Charles to found the British and Foreign Bible Society. Bibles were scarce and expensive then, and as Mary was from a poor weaving family it took her a long time to save enough money to buy one. When Mary met Thomas Charles, her determination to have her own Bible had a profound impact on him and he wanted to help other people like Mary, who longed for Bibles, but faced barriers in getting them. Today, Bible Society continues in this mission of increasing the use and circulation of the Scriptures.
During the next month we have two special events coming up in the life of Uppermill Church. On October 11th Rachel Collins will be recognised as a Local Preacher and on the 1st November we shall welcome Lucy Clarke as a member of the Methodist Church. At these special services we shall present Lucy and Rachel with a Bible - the Bible being an essential part of every Christian’s life.
Today, the Bible is still among the best-sellers of the two million books sold each year. However, how many people actually engage with the Bible on a regular basis by reading it or going to a group that explores its meaning further? The Bible Society claims that nine out of ten adults in the United Kingdom have no regular engagement with the Bible and 45% of children never read or hear Bible stories. The value of the Bible lies in its use; we need to read it to learn more about God and to be informed and challenged as to how we live.
As an ordained minister one of the most rewarding aspects of my calling is being a continual Bible explorer. This calling is not exclusive to church ministers – exploring the Bible is a life-long calling to all Christians.
I am very much hoping to run a Disciple series of Bible studies on Romans in the New Year, on Thursday evenings. I would also be happy to run a series of ‘Seeker’ Bible studies based around themes in St John’s Gospel, at a time to be negotiated. In either case, if you are interested please have a word with me.
Exploring the Bible is essential to any church’s health for at least two reasons: firstly, in the way that it challenges us to seek how God wishes us to be his church in our local area and secondly, in the way that it helps us to grow in fellowship.
Today, unlike in Mary Jones’ time, access to a Bible is not an issue. How we read the Bible may be changing, with Bible apps on tablet computers being one of the latest ways. But we do need Mary’s determination to engage with the Bible and discover its message for us personally and for our church family. The Bible Society’s theme for Bible Sunday on October 25th is ‘Get it, live it, share it.’ If we do that, the Bible’s message will live on during our time and for years to come.
With best wishes