I have been challenged twice this week on my knowledge of scripture. The first time was on hearing of an occasion when people were asked to name the words Christ spoke from the cross, and struggled to do so - in a spare few minutes I challenged myself to do the same. The second time was yesterday at Diocesan Synod when Bishop Stephen spoke about people not knowing the beatitudes, again during the next, more mundane business, I scribbled them down on a piece of paper. Two good mental exercises because today remembering Scripture is not high on our list of priorities.
I am extremely grateful for my evangelical background which has given me a good grounding in the Word of God - for Sunday School teachers, Bible reading notes, tutors at Theological College and preachers who have opened up Scripture to me in a very natural, yet deep way. I am also thankful for homegroup members, friends, colleagues and those who have participated in Bible study with me over the years, all of whom have brought new insights to my Biblical understanding.
One of my most formative times for growing in my knowledge and love of the Bible was as a Sunday School teacher in my teens and early twenties - the challenge of making connections for children between their own lives and the words on a page written thousands of years ago, taught me to ponder the stories, reflect on relevant passages and translate it into teaching. Weekly memory verses too, given to the children helped me retain texts from scripture - I needed to remember what I had asked the children to remember!
I am aware now, how important my sermon preparation is, because that is one of the few ways in my busy life I have some time to immerse myself into particular passages and come to new understandings. I miss the small group, and I have to try very very hard to draw something from Scripture through saying Morning Prayer alone. It's not easy and something now I have to continually work at, in fact it was quite comforting on completing both mental exercises successfully to realise that I do have within a well on which to draw.
Over the years the Bible has become many things to me - a Comforter, something to grapple with, a framework for life, to name but a few. One of the challenges for the Church is to continue to teach Scripture in a relevant and natural way, so Christians know it is an essential tool for their journey. I am sure we can do more in this area, particularly with our young families. For on this Mothering Sunday (and my father's birthday) I am very aware that it was their own commitment that sent me to Sunday School in the first place - the beginning of my ongoing journey of Biblical discovery.