Last weekend, as a church, we joined several thousand others at Festival One. It was an encouraging reminder that we are not alone as Jesus followers – that his local family is large, diverse and multi-generational. Between the sun, endless conversations and great bands, we were also reminded of the story that we are caught up within as the church. Across his three sessions Sam Bloore reminded us of the very foundations of our identity and calling as Christians, and one idea really stood out for me. That is, that down through the ages human identity has been formed by the stories that each community tells. These have tended to revolve around the two extremes that we are either slaves to the gods or gods ourselves. Although these ideas sound primitive to us, they accurately describe the modern world too. We are taught that we are either slaves to our biological impulses or self-creators who can become whatever we choose. But the truth is much more powerful. We are creatures formed in the image of the Creator God himself, called to reflect his beauty into the world and to offer creation’s praise back to him. What an amazing identity and vocation that we get to express in every sphere of our lives!
But the question remains, in a world that treats us as either slaves or gods, how do we learn to walk as sons and daughters of the living God? The simple answer is that our identity is formed through the story we choose to inhabit and the community that brings that story to life. In the early church, the waters of baptism gave believers a new identity (signified in many cases by a new name), a new story (told in Scripture) and a new community (the church). Over the next 2 years, we’re going to read together the divine story that gives shape to our lives and everything in them—the Bible. I encourage you to join us in this daily adventure. The Bible is a rich and complex story, which can make it challenging to access or navigate. So structured reading plans can provide a clear and walkable path for us to follow. Although there are endless options here (including the Anglican Lectionary), we are following the Gospel Coalition’s plan because of its elegant simplicity. You can find it at tinyurl.com/stpauls-bible-reading-plan and start walking on the daily journey today. What better way to enter the new year than reading the story that gives us life, purpose and a sure destiny.
Rev Jonny Grant
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