BigRead 2011 Launch

Today is Ash Wednesday.  The Lenten season is finally upon us where we are called to a more reflective, sacrificial time of the church year.  We focus our eyes on the cross.  We give up something of importance to give us just a taste of what sacrifice is.   I have to admit, I’m never very good at Lent.  The discipline of denying myself something I really like.  And it always seems to be chocolate.  So, I’m taking a different approach this year and joining in something bigger.  The BigRead2011 starts today.  It is a challenge set by churches (both Church of England and the Methodists) are supporting the call to read the Gospel of Matthew this Lent.  It will be supported by Tom Wright’s book Lent for Everyone – Matthew (Year A).  The Big Read has joined up with BibleFresh and is just one way we are celebrating 400 years of having the King James Version of the bible — a bible for all.

For me, this year is not just about giving something up for Lent.  It is about giving my time that would normally be spent on telly, computer, reading novels, etc. over to the study of Matthew’s gospel. A trade – one for another.  I already know which will be more beneficial in my life.

The BigRead also wants us not only to read the gospel in isolation, but to share our insights, questions, and thoughts with others.   To become a community of Bible readers (isn’t that what the church should be anyway?)  and to also share with others in small groups what they are reading, new understanding and how the gospel can change lives.

I have always wondered how we as a church can proclaim a gospel to those who have never encountered it, when we don’t really have the tools and language to share it with our other church-goers.  We assume that the people in the churches can share the gospel.  We assume they are equipped to speak about their faith and to proclaim the Good News.  I think this is a very dangerous assumption.  Reading the Bible is one thing.  Sharing it with others – having confidence and a voice to articulate what you are feeling and you understand is another.  I learned this the hard way.

About 12 years ago, I was pushed right out of my Lutheran comfort zone when I started dating Will.  In particular, his dad, wanted to get to know me and his way of doing this was to ask a million & one questions not only about me, but also my understanding of the Bible.  For a girl who loves to talk, the words just would not come.  The reason for this was that no one had really ever asked me to explain my faith — what I thought about this or that.  It was one of the most frustrating times for me.  It was in my heart in a simplistic way, but the words were not there.  I could not communicate because I had never practiced.  Even though I grew up in the church, and LCY formed me, I still did not have to vocabulary or confidence to say ‘I believe….’  As time went on and I grew to know Michael, it became easier to talk.  This was also aided by the fact that Will started at Duke Divinity School right after we were married.  I realised very quickly I had one of two options.  Option 1 – be bored to tears at every social gathering with our div. school friends because all they talk about it God, church, and theology in one shape or form OR Option 2 – start paying attention, studying myself and engage in the conversation.  I chose option 2 and I am so thankful that I did.  My religious world was expanded and enriched by the conversations held over nachos and quesidillas at El Rodeo (and countless other occasions)  My point is that I became surrounded by God talk.  And if I wanted to talk and have confidence, I had to practice. Participating in two different Disciple Bible Studies while in Durham also helped increase my ‘talk time’ about God.  With both seminarians and non-seminarians in the class, the discussions were so enriched by what each of us had to offer.  We stretched each other in our understanding of God’s word and what that meant for the church.  One of my proudest moments was when we returned to Florence for the weekend and Will and I were sat at the table with Nan and Michael.  Michael began firing his questions about some theological point and I held my own.  I didn’t even realise I didn’t hesitate or shy away from it.  It was only later when we had finished dinner that Michael pointed out how much I had grown.

Here, in Great Britain, I sometimes feel I am a bit rusty and out of practice.  I have found it difficult to find willing people within the churches to talk about God.  And if they do, it seldom goes as deep as I want it to.  The ‘talk time’ about God is minimal.  I see the church as needing to find ways to increase the ‘talk time’ so the members are confident about what they believe and how to share their faith.  When you’re not sharing and talking with those within the church community, how in the world can we expect these same church members to be sharing the Gospel with those ouside the church?

My hope is that the BigRead will equip people and give them ‘talk time’ to increase their cofidence in sharing their faith.  That God will develop a desire within all of us to share with others.  That the groups formed for the purpose of the BigRead will continue long after Easter and will grow in discipleship.

To get involved with the wider BigRead community, follow the link to get the daily readings.

You can also get involved with the ‘talk time’ through Facebook and Twitter.



2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Aunt Sissy on March 10, 2011 at 11:24 pm

    I, too, wonder why it is so hard to talk about God. We dont hesitate to talk about football teams, food channels, the latest fashion and other talk but I, like many others my age, were taught to never bring up religion or politics. People get very upset if you dont see things there way. Talk too much about Jesus and you are considered a Jesus freak, dont talk and people wonder if you really are a Christian…”they” seem to have set boundaries that keep us within the realms of being a “normal” Christian. However, if i am going to be tagged a “freak” I would consider it an honor to be tagged a Jesus freak and talke about my lovely Lord and Savior to any and all that will listen.


  2. Sissy,
    Thanks so much for responding. I hadn’t figured in the polite southern culture of never talk about religion or politics. I get that outside the walls of the faith community to some extent; but, did that also cover within the church as well? I agree that if you have to be labeled a freak, Jesus Freak (and yes the song ‘Jesus Freak’ by DC Talk is playing in my head now) God calls us to be counter-cultural and it’s so hard when the culture is so deeply rooted like it is in the South and in Great Britain for that matter.


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