Reading Word and World

Reading Word and World

Thursday, 23 July 2015  | Narelle - MECS Principal
Over the recent workbreak, over 1200 Christian educators from all around Australia and beyond came together for ITEC15, the International Transforming Education Conference that is held every four years. The purpose of the conference is to inspire, challenge and equip those involved in Christian education with the tools and knowledge necessary for such a task. The theme of the conference focused around the idea of Reading Word and World. How can we teach our children and students to read the full narrative of God’s Word well, and how do we teach them to read ‘the world’ with insight and clarity so that they are not seduced by its’ own enticing narratives?
The front cover of my New Living Translation of the Bible is introduced like this:

Genesis 1:1 – Revelation 22:21
66 books
1,189 chapters
31,092 verses
1 story

One of the constant messages that came through the conference was that if we desire to teach our children and students how to read God’s Word, the Bible, well; then we must get them to understand the whole story of the Bible better and allow that story to change everything!

Bartholomew and Goheen in the preface to their book, The Drama of Scripture. Finding our Place in the Biblical Story believe that “many of us have read the Bible as if it were merely a mosaic of little bits – theological bits, moral bits, historical-critical bits, sermon bits, devotional bits. But when we read the Bible in such a fragmented way, we ignore its divine author’s intention to shape our lives through its story. All human communities live out of some story that provides a context for understanding the meaning of history and gives shape and direction to our lives. If we allow the Bible to become fragmented, it is in danger of being absorbed into whatever other story is shaping our culture, and it will thus cease to shape our lives as it should.”

This is a great challenge for all Christians, not only those of us who come together in Christian school communities. Are we allowing the unified story of ‘the Word’ to shape and direct our lives, or are we being sucked into the ‘other’ stories that are so pervasive in our world? (Gerry will unpack and reflect on some of these false stories next week in MECS Matters).

The Insect and the Buffalo. How the story of the Bible changes everything is a little book by Roshan Allpress & Andrew Shamy that I highly recommend. It will only take a few hours to read! In their introduction to the book they write a similar sentiment: “This is a book about the Bible and how the story it tells changes everything. When we read the Bible, it’s easy to feel like God wrote the wrong book. We come with twenty-first century problems and we are given a collection of ancient stories. Yet these stories form a unified narrative, one that points us to Jesus, and through Jesus, reshapes the way we see the world.”

At the conclusion of their 80 page book, they recognise that “we are people who live in between two ends of the Biblical story. We see Jesus, but not yet a full vision of the world that he is part of. We are people who understand that the Bible does not invite us to become part of a community defined by doctrine, ritual, institutional membership, or uniform thinking. Instead, the story of the Bible invites us to enter the story – to become part of the new race of human beings that God is redeeming to participate in the re-creation of the world. Our task is to participate in the revelation of the new Creation…we operate inside this fallen human world in order to bring about small, incomplete glimpses of the world to come. We are engaged in the translation from God’s future world to this world that is fallen, but being redeemed. We live out of His story. And this story, the story of the Bible – changes everything.”

Another significant encouragement that came through the ITEC15 Conference was to see the whole biblical story as an invitation into intimacy with God. 

Jefferson B, one of the inspiring conference presenters from America, suggested that instead of God pulling further away from humanity as we continue to live in disobedience, that in fact, the Bible records that God’s encounters become more intimate. He challenged us in our mindset towards reading the Word. It should be one of wanting to know God more, to enter into intimacy with Him, rather than out of duty or obligation.

He also encouraged intimacy in our friendship and relationship with others. When Jesus came to his last night on earth, he didn’t do a late-night cramming session with his disciples making sure they could remember all the teachings he had shared. He invited them to gather around a meal, a table of intimacy. It is around the table of hospitality and friendship that the Word flourishes and its’ truths are made known.

(Check out Jefferson B on the internet. He was fabulous and a ‘new face’ at Christian education conferences in Australia. He has some great resources available online.)

Central and foundational to our mission to provide ‘Christ-centred’ schooling is to know God’s story, and the amazing plan He has for the redemption of the whole creation through Jesus. To know His story and our intimate place in it!

We believe that as God sows truth into the life of the staff here at MECS through experiences such as ITEC15, that He will bring forth fruit in the lives of our students. We thank you for your support of our workbreak program that enables us to provide such rich opportunities for our staff.

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