Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Starting at the beginning

When I was deciding what Biblical text to read and study during Lent I realised that I wanted to go back to the beginning. Not the beginning of the Bible (wherever that is), not the beginning of the Christian story, not the beginning of my life or of my Christian faith, but the beginning of my love of theology. I am going back to the text which excited me as an A level student, which challenged me intellectually and also strengthened my faith.

I was doing A level religious studies because I was neither enjoying nor progressing well in A level maths. I took the wise decision to drop maths and then needed a third A level subject. I was studying English and history, I didn't like geography (then), didn't want to do biology and was not a linguist - so I fell into religious studies. I wasn't expecting to fall in love with a subject I had dropped before O Level.
The A level syllabus was the whole bible! There were some specific set texts including the Epistles to the Thessalonians and Corinthians. One of our teachers, Mr Gilmore, decided that we should study another epistle in depth - the epistle to the Romans. Mr Gilmore said that if we understood Romans we would understand the other Pauline epistles, so we were introduced to Romans and I fell in love with theology. I was really enthusiastic. I spent time after the lessons asking questions and discussing the text with Mr Gilmore. One day when I had sought him out in the staff room, he gave me a book (possibly to stop me haunting him!). The book was "Paul" by Martin Dibelius and W G Kummel and I read it with great enthusiasm.

I still have that book (as you see in the photograph). It is old and outdated. "L. Gilmore" is written inside and he bought it second-hand for 2/6 before passing it on to me. I am grateful to him because he set me on a path that I have never regretted.

This morning I read Romans 1:1-7 and studied the verses with the help of commentaries, I went back to the beginning.

"Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God..." Called and set apart for a particular work, called to proclaim "Jesus Christ our Lord". This is a calling to bring others to faith, a calling in which we all share. We are called to belong to Jesus Christ.

During Lent I will continue to read Romans and occasionally share some thoughts in this blog. Today I begin at the beginning.

"Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ." (Romans 1:7)