Bible Sunday – an opportunity to engage
Each year, churches the length and breadth of the country celebrate to Bible on a Sunday in late October - Richard Hooker describes how they used this opportunity at St Edmund's parish church in Taverham.
The world around us, and indeed the observable universe, is full of wonder and intrigue, and scientific discoveries are revealing more and more about how things came to be as they are, how they work or how old they are. Whilst many people believe that the Bible and science are in conflict with each other, I believe, as a scientist and a Christian, that they are complementary, with the Bible providing clear answers to ‘why’ questions about the creation and the universe as a whole.
I was able to share this on Bible Sunday. In an All-Age Service with a difference, we incorporated slide shows, a video clip, an activity with balloons and worship songs/hymns all relating to the Creation and its purpose, as revealed in the Bible, with references to relevant scientific discoveries.
Images were screened depicting the wonders and beauty of creation, with appropriate psalms read out loud. The congregation became very quiet and I discovered later that a number of people had simply been taking in the awesomeness of the photographs and the relevance of the words of the Psalmist.
I then outlined how modern science has revealed that the universe is very large and very old and that there was a ‘beginning’ of the universe (with a ‘Big Bang’). This ‘beginning of things’ was demonstrated for children and adults in an activity involving blowing up and deflating balloons, which everyone enjoyed. The relevance of Genesis 1:1 (“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth”) and the clear message from verses throughout the Bible (including Hebrews 1:10) that God created the universe was then emphasised.
The beauty of the earth and the human ‘awareness’ of a creator was illustrated with a video clip of the Christmas Eve message broadcast by the Apollo 8 crew to millions of people across the world in 1968, when they read the first few verses of Genesis 1. “That was amazingly fantastic!” responded one younger member of the congregation.
The revealing of the Creator of the universe, God himself, to us through Jesus was focused on in the service using verses in the Bible, including what is perhaps one of the most incredible statements of all: “The Son is the image of the invisible God … for by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible” (Colossians 1:15,16).
The Revd Paul Seabrook, Rector of St Edmund’s, sums up: “Having a dedicated ‘Bible Sunday’, falling on the last Sunday of Trinity, reminds us that all we are about to experience and reflect on comes from the Bible and when we spend time looking at the Bible preparing for Christmas it enriches and enlightens our experience. I give out Advent reflection resources from Embrace Middle East to encourage people to refocus on God’s word as we move towards the celebration of Christmas.”
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