Celebrating BRF’s centenary – a deluxe compendium of Bible reflections
Updated: Nov 11, 2021
There’s a fresh way of looking at the Bible for every day of the year in this brand new hardback book from BRF. Dare I say it, (writes Debbie Thrower) it would make an ideal Christmas present for many people I can think of and perhaps you will too?!
BRF authors and staff rub shoulders with other supporters and well-wishers as The BRF Book of 365 Bible Reflections (BRF, 2021) is launched in this count down period to the charity’s 100th birthday celebrations in 2022.
The reflections are not dated, so rather than approaching it in a linear way readers may choose to dip in here and there, moving from section to section. You can journey through the Bible from the Old Testament via the Psalms, or opt to focus on each season in the Church calendar starting with Advent and Christmas first. Or you may prefer to see what different contributors offer on various themes, such as the Bible and families, or the Bible and old age.
Indeed, reading the section on old age, felt a bit like my life was flashing before my eyes as so many friends and colleagues have offered their reflections on the process of growing old from a biblical perspective: our Anna Chaplaincy church leads Julia Burton-Jones and colleague in Wales, Revd Sally Rees, for example, as well as fellow network members Lindsay Pelloquin, Catriona Foster, Canon Dr Erica Roberts, Tim and Jean Howlett and Revd Brian Dunlop.
The founder of Messy Vintage, Katie Norman, explores Isaiah’s words, ‘Strengthen the feeble hands, steady the knees that give way’ (Isaiah 35:3), coming to the conclusion:
‘Sometimes it may seem as if we are living in a wilderness, a place bereft of hope. Maybe this is the result of loneliness, ageing, loss, illness, stress, financial burden, physical or spiritual exhaustion... there are endless reasons that can take us to a place where we feel lost and unable to cope. But we are not alone, for there is no wilderness in God’s presence. There is hope and promise, strength and peace, and a sure knowledge that he will be victorious over all things.’
Husband and wife BRF authors, Donald and Harriet Mowat, who wrote The Freedom of Years: Ageing in perspective (BRF, 2018) and have been such stalwart supporters of Anna Chaplaincy over the years, are also in the book, taking inspiration from Deuteronomy to St Paul’s Letter to the Romans respectively.
Alongside such writers are senior church leaders; the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, and the Church of England’s lead on health, the Bishop of Carlisle, James Newcome, as well as the Iona Community’s John Bell and Franciscan monk Brother Ramon SSF among many others.
BRF has been ‘Sharing the story since 1922’ and this collection is an impressive roll call of the great and the good, as well as the quietly supportive men and women – who may not be household names – but who have persevered in their reading and ‘inwardly digesting’ of the scriptures ever since they discovered BRF’s range of books and Bible reading notes; not to mention initiatives like Messy Church, Parenting for Faith and Anna Chaplaincy. Their gratitude to BRF is touching and humbling.
The closing reflection is, fittingly, from the charity’s Chief Executive Richard Fisher, who tells his own personal story of how some words of Jeremiah, chapter 29, had such an impact on
him at a low point when he was an undergraduate.
‘For I know the plans I have for you’, declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’ (Jeremiah 29:11)
As he says, those words were originally written to Jews who had been exiled to Babylon after the fall of Jerusalem. But they spoke all these centuries later to a young man ‘when everything suddenly seemed to fall apart.’ Looking back we can see how God’s plans for Richard's life have involved taking BRF from strength to strength in those intervening 35 years.
There is so much to be grateful for and this book marks just the start of a year of giving thanks both for BRF, and for God's unwavering, dedicated, love for each one of us.
Retired vicar and author Rosie Ward, reflecting on John 11:1 and 33–44, the story of Martha and Mary’s grief at the death of Lazarus, poses the question:
‘Where is God? Where is God when the earth quakes, when mudslides engulf, when cancer strikes, when disease incapacitates, when prayers seem unanswered? Does he care?’
A few paragraphs later, drawing on her knowledge of the Bible and her own experience of God, she writes:
‘“Take away the stone” says Jesus (v. 39), before he summons Lazarus out of the tomb. Just a few weeks later Jesus would be standing by another stone, another tomb. He would have a resurrection body, one that will never die, a trailer for the resurrection life of us all. Jesus told Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life” (v. 25). Where Jesus is, resurrection and life must be.’
With hope like that to share, no wonder BRF continues to grow as a precious fellowship of believers, seekers, some-time doubters and leaders... each in their own way bearing Christ’s light into the world, establishing God’s kingdom, for all.