Of the more than 7,000 documented languages in the world today, over half do not have written Christian scriptures. This means that 209 million people do not, or cannot, possess any part of the Bible in their own language. Those of us who do are fortunate.
Bible Sunday, as its promoters rightly point out, may be marked on any (or every!) Sunday. But in 2018 the Bible Society is offering Sunday 28 October as a particular day on which many churches may wish to focus their attention on the stories, songs, theology, laws and visions that combine to create that rich tapestry of writings we call the Christian scriptures.
In Singing the Faith, section nine is devoted to The Holy Scriptures (StF 153 – 164). Authors range from Charles Wesley (Come, divine interpreter and Come, Holy Ghost, our hearts inspire) to Dan Damon (When listening prophets dare to speak), with two hymns apiece from Christopher Idle and Keith Getty/Stuart Townend.
In the music edition of StF, additional hymns are suggested at the end of the section from elsewhere in the book – including William Reid’s Help us, O Lord to learn (the truth your word imparts…) (StF 501) and Brian Wren’s Deep in the shadows of the past (StF 463).
Telling it like Timothy
This year, the Bible Society has drawn inspiration from 2 Timothy 3: 14 – 4: 5. It is a passage that continues to sound prescient in our own age:
“For the time is coming when people will not put up with sound doctrine, but having itching ears, they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own desires, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander away to myths.” (4: 3-4)
(Or as the Revised English Bible puts it: “each will follow his own whim and gather a crowd of teachers to tickle his fancy”.)
In response, the writer urges us to recall how, and from whom, we learned the Gospel message (3: 14). It offers a moment, perhaps, to recall who for us have been prophets Consider singing in particular George Briggs’s God has spoken – by his prophets (StF 157), or two other hymns on the prophetic legacy of teaching and challenge (The prophets’ voice comes down the years, StF 162) and When listening prophets dare to speak, StF 163).
Remember, too, Timothy Dudley-Smith’s popular hymn, Lord, for the years (StF 470), which speaks of the Word of Life that fires us and which (quoting 2 Timothy almost directly) “teaches and trains, rebukes and inspires us” (v.2).
(Alternatively, anticipating the festival of All Saints in four days’ time, consider John Bell and Graham Maule’s For all the saints who showed your love – “who sang your songs and shared your word” (StF 746, v.2)
Resources offered by the Bible Society include a sermon by Krish Kandiah, founder of the adoption and fostering charity Home for Good and author of Paradxology: Why Christianity was never meant to be simple; also an order of all-age worship, and a youth talk.
In Scotland, the Scottish Bible Society invites people to order resources from its Bible Sunday Scotland page.
Some online resources that will help you explore 2 Timothy include:
- From Biblica, the International Bible Society, a brief summary of when and why Paul may have written this letter.
- Bible Odyssey – a short overview of the Epistles, asking which ones may or may not have been written by Paul himself. Many scholars think 2 Timothy was written by someone other than Paul.
- The Text This Week offers a range of commentary and interpretation materials relating to this passage.