Bringing the Bible to life

Published on: 1 January 2018

The Rt Revd Alan Winton, Bishop of Thetford enthuses on the 'Open the Book' teams that bring Bible stories to life for children across the Diocese.

When I sat down one day at university to write an essay on the story of King Saul and King David, I found to my surprise that I knew the text in quite precise detail. As I read through the first and second books of Samuel in the Old Testament, my mind was flooded with familiar images.

Here was the young David, harp in hand, hiding behind a pillar, to avoid the angry Saul’s spear thrown in his direction. There was David, crouching in a cave, cutting a square from Saul’s robe, when he visited the cave for what the Hebrew describes as “covering his feet” – famously translated in an American version as “to visit the bathroom”!

What I was remembering was part of a children’s picture Bible I had as a child that told the story of Saul and David in colourful cartoon form. All those years later, it was still fresh in my mind, and it certainly made writing the essay a whole lot easier.

Looking back, I feel very fortunate and thankful that I grew up reading and hearing Bible stories: some at home, some in church on the occasions when we attended services, and some in school. I am sure that mental library played a part in my own coming to faith as a teenager, and in the journey of vocation that took me first to University to study theology and then to train to be a priest.

This is why I am so heartened and encouraged when I visit benefices around the Diocese and meet the wonderful ‘Open the Book’ teams that go out from many of our churches to bring to life the stories of the Bible for the young and open minds of children in our schools. It seems to be a ministry that’s popular with the children, with the teachers and with those who take part. Any chance to raid the dressing-up box seems to be embraced enthusiastically by many in our churches, and in this case, it’s for such a good cause.

I am sure that in years to come there will be many adults in our churches who will trace their journey of faith back to learning the stories of the Bible in primary school, from those slightly eccentric, but wonderful adults who came into the school hall, with tea towels on their heads.

To have the chance to learn from the richness of the Scriptures, you do need to know the Bible. That’s why I am always happy to pray God’s blessing on our Open the Book teams.

If you’ve not heard about Open the Book, or simply wondered whether it might be worth exploring in your benefice and schools, then I would urge you to get involved. (You can find out more on page 12 of this issue.) You just never know how you might be playing a crucial part in shaping a young life for good on their journey of faith.

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Articles in this issue...

Guardians of Ancora

The Revd Mark Capron reviews a children's online Bible game.


Parish Bibles

Parish Bibles can tell us something of the history of the church to which they belong through clues such as annotations and their general appearance.


Which Bible?

KJV? NIV? NLT? The Message? To the question, 'which is the best Bible?', the answer is, 'best for what?' Paul Overend explores the different translations of the Bible.


Walking through the Bible

Andy Jones runs Raise Kids Work and, among other activities, delivers Walk through the Bible Primary School lessons.


The Lectionary – not just for Sundays!

You might be used to looking on a list to see what the reading are for this Sunday if you are reading a lesson or perhaps preparing the prayers, and probably know that the church of England provides a list of readings for each Sunday (the Sunday lectionary). But Charles Read wonders if you know that it also provides readings for each day?


One Bible – many encounters

We each have our preferred ways of encountering God through the Bible. Some are avid readers; others prefer an audio experience; some find art or drama helpful; others prefer active approaches.


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.


Praying with the Bible

Keith James shares a practical guide to two ways of praying – Imaginative Contemplation and Lectio Divina.


The Bible in a digital age

Kevin Baldwin discusses how Life exhibition is using a different method of old and new media to share the Bible with thousands of children in a digital age.


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