My Dear Friends,
Are you sitting comfortably?
There are two ways of reading the Bible: the comfortable way and the uncomfortable way. The comfortable way reads about historic events, great miracles and touching stories, the uncomfortable way recognises that the God who was at work then is still at work now. So we aren’t reading the history of the past, we’re reading a blueprint for faithful living today. That makes the Bible a much more risky read!
I have just returned from a week selecting the vicars of the future, and what an interesting lot they all were - everything from a ballet dancer to a member of the SAS! So different from each other in so many ways, just like the first followers of Jesus. And in just the same way as those first disciples, they had begun to hear a call which asked them to give up the lives they’d been living so far and do something completely different.
That isn’t just a call given to Vicars. Every Christian is called to the sort of life that says, ‘Following Christ is more important than anything else you’ve ever done before.’
Just as there are two ways of reading the Bible, there are also two ways of responding. The response that says, ‘OK, what shall we do then?’ and the response that says, ‘You must be joking, I’m off!’ It’s the difference between saying yes to God and saying no to God.
When Moses had a vision in the form of a burning bush, the message from God was ‘life is never going to be the same again, for you and all your people, follow me.’ St Catherine’s monastery on Mt Sinai is reputed to stand on the very site of where God met Moses. In fact the chapel is said to be built above the roots of the bush itself, now flourishing into a great tree. I had to smile when I came across a picture of the ‘burning bush’ that a tourist had placed on the Wikipedia website entry for St Catherine’s monastery. The bush, quite a tourist attraction now, is kept with a fire extinguisher close at hand – just in case!
What was true for Moses, and true for the first disciples of Jesus, is true for us. When God turns up, you have a choice: do what he asks you to do and follow him, or reach for that fire extinguisher!
God bless you this Pentecost!
NB The wikipedia entry for St Catherine’s monastery can be found on the world wide web at http://orthodoxwiki.org/St._Catherine's_Monastery_(Sinai) and the tourist photograph of the burning bush with the fire extinguisher at http://orthodoxwiki.org/images/e/ea/FireExtinguisher.jpg
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