Saturday, 1 May 2010

The Bible is our pastor

On Friday morning Catherine Christ-Taha and Jean-Nicolas Bazin led prayers as our staff planning days drew to a close. We sang and prayed offering silence and words as we remembered the peoples and churches in Eritrea and Ethiopia as well as friends, family and colleagues in particular need.
We also listened to the whole of chapter 12 of the letter to the Romans. For all sorts of reasons these extremely powerful words resonated deeply with me and seemed like a personal sermon. Perhaps the effect was similar for others. I like the idea that the Bible was ministering to each of us, was our pastor as we listened to and read the same words.
I first remember hearing this passage at my German grandfather's funeral and the final verse was part of the announcement of his death: "Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." (Rm. 12:21)
Yesterday morning almost every verse that was read seemed to speak to a different part of my experience and current situation. I felt challenged, questioned, judged and encouraged. If I was writing this in German I would say "Es hat mich bewegt" which seems to say rather more than "I was moved by it". I felt a long way away from the demands of holy and faithful living. I'm a judgemental and feisty person - generous both with insights and criticism, hearing this call to humble and sacrificial living was uncomfortable.
The Bible is there to make us feel uncomfortable as well as to comfort us. Pastors are called to both comfort and challenge in their ministry. The uncomfortable comforting word of God moved me to tears and to joy.
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:2)