It’s in the Book

My Bible is looking very battered, its binding held together with wide pieces of clear sticky tape. It’s a Jerusalem Bible, an English translation of a French translation from the original Hebrew and Greek texts, printed in 1966. It’s big, it’s heavy, the pages are wafer thin, unmarked by pencil or highlighter, unlike just about every other book I own.

I can’t claim to have read every word of it – there are whole chapters that remain unread, especially in the Old Testament. My most frequently pondered chapters are from the New Testament, the Jesus story as it is told from the perspective of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Lately however, my Bible has sat, unopened for weeks at a time.

Maybe familiarity has dulled my reading of the Gospels. Maybe I’ve stopped seeing Jesus from the perspective of a first century Christian, when the choice to follow his teachings was an adult thing, a deliberate choice that took courage, determination and a strong will to join what was essentially a fringe movement – exciting but demanding. Maybe I’ve stopped seeing Jesus from my place in the twenty first century.

A couple of weeks ago Kevin Donnelly, writing  in the Australian, said this; “It’s a hard time to be a Christian, especially a Catholic”. I agree. It takes courage to go against the tide of unquestioned beliefs, family customs, public opinion and established religious tradition in order to speak about anything, but especially religious issues. Mentioning Jesus can be embarrassing. Maybe it’s time for me to return to the Gospels, to see life, as it’s happening right now, through the eyes of Jesus.  

The Jesus story is the thread that holds Christian communities together. It’s what makes Christianity a living and still evolving religion. Aside from a token nod to Jesus’ birth and death each Christmas and Easter however, you will hear almost nothing about Jesus unless you are a regular church goer. Christian churches introduce us to a Jesus we can imitate in twenty first century ways, someone who sets the bar for what it means to be fully human. External rituals and compliance with rules rarely do that.

 Christianity today does the ‘big stuff’’ really well. Regardless of race, culture or gender, Christianity gives people a practical way to integrate their inner spirituality with the day to day The sick, the needy, the homeless, families displaced by war, the disabled and the mentally ill are cared for by any number of organizations and volunteers. Are a whole lot of empty churches for sale because people no longer see any point in remaining faithful to what is essentially cultural Christianity?

 A slow, careful reading of a Gospel passage gives the details a chance to be noticed and Jesus’ voice to be heard, maybe stirring a recognition of something that is currently happening. A word or phrase that catches our interest or imagination.is like a hook the Spirit uses to bring something to our attention. We just need the courage to believe it, to stay with it, to live it.

Judith (judith@judithscully.com.au)

4 Replies to “It’s in the Book”

  1. Hello Judith, Our reading today is- Bless those that curse you, pray for those that hurt you. What a challenge in todays world. Love reading words from the edge. Margaret Harvey

    Sent from my iPad

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  2. Hello Judith
    I too have been a faithful reader of your word from the edge.
    It saddens me that your bible has remained unopened and unmarked.
    After more than 5 decades of faithfulness to Jesus expressed thru my Catholicity I have moved to a Pentecostal church. I miss the family of God who I loved and served for decades, I miss the expressed centrality of the cross and reverence for Holy Eucharist, both of which remain central to my faith in Jesus. I regret that my children, not only rejected Catholicism but were so disappointed and ashamed by being aligned with the life and education being Catholic in the 21 century has created that like so many others they threw the baby out with the bath water. And so as whatever years remain for me I will seek the Lord while He is to be found and declare the word of the Lord in the land of the living as I wait for my prodigals to come home to Jesus.
    I speak Jesus

  3. Thankyou Judith for your timely “Words from The Edge”. Each column is a gift that always arrives at just the right time, helping me to feel a part of something precious and much bigger than me!!

    I really enjoyed reading about your experience here. I grew up in a Protestant church where many of us had several different versions of The Bible. As an adult (& an Anglican now) I was really thrilled to discover the Jerusalem Bible with the Apocrypha, as I was able (for the first time) to explore some of the hidden, “in-between spaces” in which people of faith live out their lives. What a gift!!

    Recently, I inherited my precious Grandmother’s every day Bible, with her comments written throughout as she underlined favourite verses and wrote about what was happening in her life. This too is a precious gift to me, as I continue to ponder the connectedness of our lives, exploring my faith in the light of all that’s happening in the world today.

    I am also very grateful for those times when my Bibles can stay on the shelf for a while, without me feeling guilty. This is no small thing!!

    This beckoning space gives me time to think deeply about the dynamic stories we are each writing in our own Christian walks, learning to walk as Jesus encourages us to walk – loving each other as we walk.

    Thankyou Judith for walking with me.

    Shalom.

    Catherine

  4. Dear Judith

    Thank you for your Words from the Edge which I am always very pleased to receive. I never read them immediately but like a special treat I put them aside to savour at a quiet time. When I can selfishly and slowly take in every word. I do feel bad that I haven’t let you know what your words mean to me during the last couple of years when we have had to adjust to something we had no preparation for. Living in a pandemic. My parents were born in 1910 and 1911 so were only children during the Spanish flu. So whilst us children often heard about living during the depression we had no knowledge of pandemic living.

    But John and I have survived all the keeping safe, living during the world record of lockdowns and are now adjusting to the ‘let if rip’ stage of Covid 19. I am grateful that we have no conspiracy theorists in the family so the children and grandchildren are all vaxxed. The eldest greatgrandchild, Jed who is 5 is ready to get his first jab before starting school. So there are only the three little girls, Georgie 3, Spencer 2 and Darcy 8 months unvaxxed. Yes our granddaughter, Lauren and husband Rob rather like choosing male names for their daughters. Sarah, Lauren’s twin sister, tested positive for Covid today. She is living and working from home at Jen and Dave’s place at Harrietville. And is due to spend most of this year in New Zealand setting up a branch for Ossur the Icelandic prosthetics and orthotics company she works for. Seems like Melbourne tourists have done their bit to spread Omicron throughout the Great Alpine Road area since Christmas.

    Hope you are keeping well, and safe.

    Kind regards

    Carmel Leyden

    St Christopher’s parish is a remnant of the vibrant community we had back in the good old days.

    Sent from my iPad

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