Reflections

Bible Study has often vacillated between those who want to learn all about the rivers of Egypt and the archaeological sites in Palestine and those who want to find out what the text meant and how it relates to life today. Preachers similarly have varied from those who see the sermon as essentially Bible teaching and those who see it as an opportunity to offer simple guidance on daily living with a strong biblical backing.

More recently both scholars and preachers are becoming more open to see literature and in some cases music as an additional tool for interpretation (midrash to the Jews or hermeneutics to the Christians), not as previously simply as a way of finding illustrations for what one wanted to say but as a way of relating the sacred text to the secular world by putting the two side by side and enabling the one to speak to the other, to the benefit of both.

These reflections are mostly edited versions of what started life as sermons for a traditional middle-of-the-road, Protestant UK congregation, as examples of how this might work out in practice. They originated in response to time and circumstance with no overall frame or pattern, the selection of Bible passages was episodic in the extreme, and the end product varies from those where the biblical material tends to dominate to others where the secular literature is clearly the driving force.

They are not intended as ‘how to do it’ and in no way should be copied but their variety may inspire others to experiment on similar lines to their own satisfaction, to the benefit of their readers or listeners, and a clearer impression of what both sacred text and secular literature are trying to tell us.

Resources available to the entrepreneur are legion, such as novels, stories, poetry, radio or television and theatre visits. All it calls for is a watchful eye, a listening ear, a speck of imagination to spot links, an open mind to follow them, and (perhaps most of all) a desperation born of the need to produce something on a given event or a special anniversary and by a given date. 

© Alec Gilmore 2014