Bishop Ward introduces a new Bible study – God of the Bible – and invites congregations to engage the scriptures with “inquiring hearts and minds.”
Grace and peace to you in the name of Jesus Christ the Good Shepherd, our Great Physician, the Lord of all, living water.
We give thanks for the rich and varied images in the Bible that help us grow in our appreciation for the depth and complexity and wonder of God’s way with us. I have a gift for you today; a new study has been released for use in United Methodist churches. It’s called simply “God of the Bible.” This study helps us look at the ways God is revealed in scripture.
I give thanks for the opportunity to engage in this study myself. It was my privilege to write the introduction and I reflected upon the images in my home church. On one side was a picture of Jesus Shepherd holding a little lamb. We were taught as children that Jesus was the Good Shepherd and that Jesus would look for the sheep who go astray. On the other window was Jesus knocking on a door. We were told as children that Jesus knocked on the doors of our hearts and then we can open our hearts to Jesus.
I remember as a child drawing these images on church bulletins with a blunt pencil. I remember also sort of tracing the images that I saw in the stained-glass windows – circles and swirls and diamonds. I did not know what these images meant and yet, I did know what they meant. They were teaching me of the beautiful, amazing, infinite mystery of God.
As we pray, as we speak of God, and as we teach, it is essential that we use the best possible language for God. It’s very important that we use expansive images for God. In doing so, we embody the reality that God is far more than any one name or any one image. Our God is the great and abundant All-Merciful One, the Lord of all justice and love.
Together, let us engage the scriptures with inquiring hearts and minds and let us faithfully receive God’s latest whispers to our hearts. Let us speak and listen well as God continues to teach us. We give thanks for the God of scripture and for the chance to read, to study, to teach and preach. May we do it well.