Welcome back to school! Hopefully you all received your copy of the latest edition of Nurture1 at the end of last year. In the opening pages, Dr Rod Thompson talked about faithful work, witness and wisdom in Christian education. In his article he states that:
“There is no fear of the Lord without habitual attention to God’s Word. There is no wisdom without immersion in, and faithful obedience to, God’s Word. Yet, individual and communal heart-shaping mind-renewing immersion in Scripture is under threat and in decline.”
He then goes on to say:
“CEN schools and their communities will surely fail unless there is an abiding, rigorous, joyful commitment to biblical immersion... immersion requires whole bodied individual and communal attentiveness to the Scriptures. It means indwelling.”
I found these comments challenging both individually and as a leader of a Christian community seeking to serve God in all that we do.
Are we engaged in ‘heart-shaping and mind-renewing’ immersion in the Scriptures? Are our practices in this area ‘rigorous and joyful’? Is this an area for our school community to take more seriously? How do we do that communally? How do we do that in our classrooms and staffrooms? How do we do that in our homes?
In 2020, our staff devotions are going to centre on engaging with the gospels in such a way. Over the year, we will work our way through Matthew, Mark, Luke and John as a community of staff desiring our hearts to be shaped and our minds renewed. We want to delve into how these texts were understood by their original audiences, how they fit into the whole biblical narrative and what do they mean for us as 21st century Christians.
We want our biblical immersion to make a difference in our lives and that of our MECS community.
Eugene Peterson, in his book entitled, ‘Eat This Book. The Art of Spiritual Reading’2 writes that “Christians feed on Scripture. Holy Scripture nurtures the holy communion as food nurtures the human body. Christians don’t simply learn or study or use the Scriptures; we assimilate it, take it into our lives in such a way that it gets metabolised into acts of love, cups of cold water, missions into all the world, healing and evangelism and justice in Jesus’ name, hands raised in adoration of the Father, feet washed in company with the Son.”
It seems to me that if we don’t ‘eat this book’, we will be in danger of replacing the Scriptures with texts of our own making. Instead of the Bible providing authoritative direction in our day-by-day living, we will give this authority to the stories and narratives that are capturing and shaping our society at large. As we begin another year of living and learning at MECS, may we be people captured by the grand narrative of God’s story of redemption for His people and His world. May the gospel of Christ encourage us towards acts of love, compassion, justice and generosity. And may our students grow in understanding and faith as they too, are invited to live out of this story.
1Nurture. December 2019. Christian Education National
2Eat this Book. The Art of Spiritual Reading by Eugene H. Peterson. Hodder & Stoughton, 2006.