October 2018

Monday, 24 September 2018 03:55 Be the first to comment!

William Tyndale and Bible Sunday

Dear Friends,

In the Church’s calendar October includes both the remembrance of William Tyndale (6th) and Bible Sunday (28th). For me Tyndale has always been something of a hero of the church. Born around 1494, he got caught up with the fervour of the Reformation as it spread from Europe, and developed a vision to see the Bible translated into English from the Greek and Hebrew so that everybody could read it. At the time the possession of a Bible in English carried the death penalty.

When the Bishop of London refused to support him, he moved to Germany to continue the work of translating. Printing of his first New Testament began in Cologne in 1525 and was completed in Worms. Encouraged by the leaders of the English church, Henry VIII sent agents to capture him and prevent its publication. Tyndale kept on the move, eventually settling in Antwerp, where he continued to revise his New Testament, translated and published the Pentateuch (Genesis – Deuteronomy) and Jonah, with Joshua – 2 Chronicles in manuscript. Henry VIII’s agents eventually caught up with him and in 1536 he was arrested, tried and executed for heresy. However, his New Testament and other translations lived on, eventually becoming core building blocks for the development of what became the King James Bible.

The work of Tyndale, Wycliffe (an earlier translator) and the team of 54 scholars who put together the King James Bible, lives on in the work of the Bible Society, Wycliffe Bible Translators and others, who share a vision that all people should be able to read the Bible in their own language. Currently the whole Bible is available in nearly 700 languages, and the New Testament in a further 1500, but with over 7000 languages in the world, many of which have never been written down, there is a long way to go. Bible Sunday is an opportunity to be reminded of the importance of the Bible to us and across the world, and to pray for and consider how we might support this important work both of literacy, and of making the Bible available to everyone. The Bible helps people to encounter God in Jesus Christ, and that changes lives.

God Bless.
Revd Stephen Cooper

Dear Friends,

The moment when we acknowledge the presence and reality of God – that he is the creator and we are his beloved creation – we open up a whole new set of questions: If God is God, then what does that mean for me? How do I live in relationship with God? What is God’s will for me? Of course, these are questions not easily answered.

A good number of years ago a friend of mine was wondering whether God might be calling him to ordained ministry, and asked me what I thought? My reply was twofold. Firstly, to pray for the idea to go away – if it was of God, then it wouldn’t go away, whereas if it was of him it would soon pass. Second, he that was too good a Christian to be wasted on ordained ministry – there would be much more important things for him to do for the Kingdom of God.

As it turned out, the idea went away and instead he went to the US to do post-graduate studies. Now he’s a professor of theology in a US university where he teaches hundreds of students each year to think about the God questions in the complexities of the modern world – a much more important role for the Kingdom of God than being a Vicar!

So what might the will of God be for you? for me? A couple of years ago we did a course called ‘Life on the Frontline’. The premise of the course was that everyone is on the frontline of the Kingdom of God, whether at home, down the pub, at work, with the children or grand-children, at the gym, with our friends, or wherever. First and foremost, where we are is where we’re called to be the Body of Christ, his presence in the world. Though it may change as we journey with God, where we are now is where God is calling us to be his people, on the frontline of the Kingdom of God – for now this is his will for us, each one of us.

It is tempting to put the idea of special ministries on a pedestal, vicars and the like, as something to be looked up to. The truth of the matter is that our first calling, above all others, is to be a Christian, a follower of Jesus. Living that out is always the will of god for us.

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