This last week I had the opportunity to do something for the first time. Thanks to an invitation from Bryony Kite who teaches at Isleworth Town, I had the chance to visit and spend time with 4x Year 6 classes explaining what the Bible is, and why it is important to me. They have been studying sacred religious texts and I was to speak on the book that informs Christian belief and practice. I’ve done plenty of work with kids and in schools, but I’ve never had to speak on this topic and never to 120 children aged 10 or 11! I was excited by the opportunity because this was a topic close to my heart.
I brought in a Bible to show the kids that my parents had given me when I was baptised as a teenager. I still have it and read from it most days. I tried to explain that the Bible is fun and interesting but it can be hard work – after all, it is 1 book that is also 2 books (we have the Old Testament and New Testament) made up of 66 books written by many different people of different ages over many centuries written in many styles and genres, and I said a bit about how it was compiled and translated. I described the Bible as a good friend – sometimes I may disagree with it or even get angry with it but I couldn’t possibly imagine my life without it. The Bible has brought me peace, given me the words to speak to God when I have no words left, brought me perspective when nobody had anything of value to say to me, teaches me wisdom and about love – and reminds me that I am loved and cherished by God, forgiven and restored no matter how I feel or what I’ve done.
I also tried to open up another idea for the kids. For Christians the “Word of God” is both the Bible, and is Jesus himself. God didn’t just send us a letter to find out about what He was like (the Bible), he also came as Himself in person to let us meet him and get to know Him (Jesus!). We respect the Bible, therefore, not just by trying to revere an ancient book, but by listening carefully to Jesus Himself and seeking to follow him in our daily lives. He is the “Word of God” that continues to live and challenge and speak today.
The kids kept me on my toes by asking me all sorts of great questions and left me lots to think about! Next week we have 3 forms of kids visiting St John’s from the newly formed Bolder Academy secondary school – so let the questions continue!