It’s not really possible to have a favourite bit of the Bible – it’s too rich and diverse for such a comparison to work – but if I did have a favourite it would probably be the beginning of John’s gospel: “In the beginning was the word…” Words to sent shivers down the spine.
This is one of those passages which has acquired layer upon layer of meaning for me, through hearing it and reading it in so many different times and places and contexts. And now it has acquired yet another layer. Maggi’s reflection in “Beginnings and Endings” starts by reflecting on story-telling, and how we tell the salvation story. This struck a chord with me, as story-telling is so much a part of my ministry.
Yesterday morning, I gathered my Sunday morning children’s group around me on the carpet and started to tell them again the story of God’s plan for the world. We used words and symbols and signing, and looked at the whole sweep of the narrative, from creation to the present, and beyond to end times. I think it’s important to do this. I think our children (and adults too) need to see the incarnation as part of the greater story, the cornerstone of God’s story of salvation.
As I started to tell the story, one of the children interrupted me: “we’ve heard this one before!” Yes, we have. And now we hear it again. And every time we hear it, it gathers layers of meaning. It touches us differently each time. And those tellings and re-tellings, layers and interpretations, are what weave together in the fabric of our faith. They are what build us up and shape us, as individuals and as the church.
John knew what he was doing when he chose to echo Genesis at the start of his gospel. Building on the story which was already woven through the generations. Pointing up the timeless connections by which we can see God in Christ as always and forever the Beginning.