In our Rule of Life we are called to Pray, Read and Learn, and sent to Tell, Serve and Give. Over the past couple of months I have made some simple suggestions as to how this can become part of our everyday lives as disciples of Jesus Christ.
The Holy Spirit works in us to transform us into the likeness of Christ. Our Rule of Life aims to help us in being open to the Spirit’s work.
If then as disciples together we are to be changed by God, it will help us to do all we can to co-operate with God’s work in us. A fortnight ago I outlined six practical steps
that you could choose to follow.
And today, as summer holiday breaks appear on the horizon, I am challenging myself, and all of us, to read. To read scripture. And specifically to read the book that Mark wrote, perhaps based on Peter’s preaching, about the Lord he loved and followed.
Why Mark? Well, it’s the shortest and for many the most accessible of the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ life. Its punchy, accessible style makes it a great read and as you read it through and see how Mark has constructed it, then you can deepen your knowledge and understanding of God’s ongoing work in your own life.
So I challenge myself - and you - to do more than skim read.
I challenge us to read steadily through this short and profound book - to read around three chapters a week through the Summer.
As we read, let's ask ourselves:
What did Mark’s readers make of these stories and reflections?
And what is God telling me in this passage?
And how does it help me grow as a disciple, a follower of the Jesus I read about there?
And what practical steps can I take in my life as a result of reading these particular stories and thoughts?
And what questions does it inspire in me, and who can I discuss them with as we learn together?
You may want to read a commentary on Mark, alongside the Gospel itself. A moment ago I said that this gospel is "perhaps based on Peter’s preaching”. “Peter’s Preaching” is the title of a helpful, popular book by Jeremy Duff, who with Jill and the children was for many years part of our Diocesan family here. Jeremy’s book was launched in Widnes a couple of years ago, and although Jeremy is now leading the theological education programme for the Church in Wales, I recommend “Peter’s Preaching" as a Liverpool Diocesan contribution to our thinking! You can get the book from the Cathedral bookshop, or online here
Archbishop Justin Welby has this to say about it: "Many people have found Mark's gospel to be the most gripping of the four gospels - a real page-turner - and here Jeremy Duff helps us to understand why. This analysis will deepen your appreciation of Mark's gospel, whether you have read it just once or you are a seasoned student. I commend it to all who long to respond to Jesus with the same conviction and passion as Peter."
In any event, having read, you will then want to talk about what you have received, and to listen to what others think. So each week my colleagues in the Diocesan communications team will be encouraging you to share your comments and reflections, since together we’re Called to Learn.
In the Diocese we want to create a community of readers of scripture, who can learn together as the Holy Spirit speaks to each and all. So if you’re a social-media person, post your thoughts and questions to the diocesan Facebook page or on Twitter using the hashtags #RuleOfLife and #ReadMark
Of course there is no obligation to take part in this challenge. You are free and welcome to follow your own pattern, your own way of reading the Bible. But you may want to give this challenge a try. I will be taking the challenge myself, posting my reflections and offering my thoughts. I also hope to host a Q and A session in September. Why not join me?
As I said before, the Bible is a wonderful and profound gift that can change lives. God has given us that gift, and has given us in the Church of England the freedom to open and unfold the gift each day. Do join me in this challenge to "Read Mark" this summer.
Blessings and love,