Some Reflections on John and Luke
On 14 May 2019 we brought the final season of Telling the Story to a close. This long-running programme at Church of the Redeemer has tried to explore biblical books and themes in a format involving music and storytelling with reflections and discussion. We entitled the final season "Telling the Story: Telling Our Stories", because we asked the presenters to share the stories from the Bible that have had the greatest impact on their personal faith journeys. For this final presentation, I chose three passages from John's Gospel and one from Luke's Gospel, that have helped guide me on the long and winding road that has stretched externally from South Texas to Toronto and internally from doubt to faith.
In putting my translations of the passages and my reflections up on this site, I am consicious of how much is lost because I can't also include the wonderful storytelling and music that were part of that evening. I've included information about the songs after each reflection, and hope you'll take the time to look them up on the Web
Paul met Jesus on the Damascus road; Augustine was in a garden when he heard a voice urging him to pick up the letter to the Romans and read; John Wesley was resting beneath a tree on the roadside when his heart was "strangely warmed". Me, I was standing on a rooftop praying that what I thought was irrational and impossible was actually real.
It was in the 1970/71 academic year, when I was an 18-year-old university student and it was the roof of my residence hall. In those days I was beset by times of deep despair - rather like, I now realise, the times that the Psalmist describes. In the grip of one of those spells, that roof seemed the path to my only way out. Unless. Unless it turned out that it was really all true, that the Bible was more than just the stories my mother and grandmother had told me, that God (and Jesus) were real people, who could change me by grace and whom I could know and rely on.
"Out of the depths, I cry to you O Lord!" And I was answered. There was infinitely more to God, and Jesus, and the Bible, and my relationship with all of them than I could "ask or imagine". I went back down from that roof a different person. Once back in my room, I took out my Bible, and started to read the Gospel of John. The Bible, especially John, has been a companion on my journey ever since.
I quickly found that there were unexpected ways in which my life was shaping up to be different. I no longer felt able to spend my life studying and teaching Latin lyric poetry, my previous goal. I felt called to in some way centre my life on the Bible and reading the Bible. Ultimately I ended up here in Toronto, studying the history of biblical interpretation in the mediaeval period. And I ended up here in the Church of the Redeemer, studying the Bible with a group of mostly women, over many years - the make-up of the group has changed as people's lives changed, but its devotion to our common goal has not changed. Indeed, talking about the Bible here whenever I could, to whoever would listen has been my goal and my great joy and privilege!
Passage One: In the Beginning
Passage Two: Bread for our Journey
Passage Three: A Picnic by the Beach
Passage Four: The Emmaus Window
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