Looking back on #biblemarathon
When I was a little boy, pushing my toy car round the imaginary motorway under the sofa I reckoned I made a pretty impressive engine sound – at least to my young ears. Taking the car outside, though, it was a different story. Out there, in the big wide world, the sound was tinny, overwhelmed and slightly pathetic.
As yesterday’s Bible Marathon got under way, reading the opening chapters of Genesis to a largely empty street, I was aware of the same feelings all over again. As a preacher I am accustomed to reading out the Word of God in a purpose built environment, with suitable amplification, before an audience who have expressed their interest in it by turning up. Out there, in the street, things could not be more different.
On the whole, readers found it to be a positive experience. Many of those reading, either directly under our tent in Teddington or remotely via skype from Durham had to overcome their fears in order to do so. Most felt it was a privilege to read out the often private Word of God in the public space. Like a new Christian voicing their belief for the first time, it deepened the sense of conviction by saying it out loud. For those who were supporting the readers it felt good to hear the word out on the street too. Not only that, but it connected the Bible together by doing it all in one 12-hour session. Mid- morning I heard Ezekiel’s description of the trees in the temple with their leaves for the healing of the nations. Shortly before 8pm I heard it all over again – this time from Revelation.
On the whole, responses from the public were positive. Some stopped to listen, others slowed down as they drove or walked past, and one person even removed their ear-buds so that they could hear better! There were very few who sought to disrupt or mock, and most seemed to respect the conviction which motivated the readers. We had conversations with a Zoroastrian, a Muslim and a new Christian wanting to know more about the Bible and many others. One child who overheard the readings from her pushchair went straight home and asked her mum to get the Children’s Bible out. The overall feeling at our closing celebration was that this had been a very worthwhile investment of 12 hours.
I leave you with two pictures from a memorable day – one of older Joan and one of younger Anna: both caught up in a task bigger than themselves.