The Story as Told by Those Inspired by God

Brian Wren, an ordained British Congregational minister, teacher and hymn writer wrote the hymn “Deep in the Shadows of the Past.” He wrote it “to tell the story of the Bible in a manner acceptable to different understandings of its authority and inspiration.” In the first two stanzas he tells the standard story of the Exodus and how that story was retold around campfires and became both “song and law.” In stanza three and four the writers, story tellers, scribes, and “rememberers” are honored, but at the same time, we are encourage to find within the Bible our own new hope and an emerging faith to live by.

Read these words prayerfully and then dwell on the questions that follow.

“Deep in the Shadows of the Past”

Deep in the shadows of the past, far out from settled lands,
some nomads traveled with their God across the desert sands.
The dawning hope of humankind by them was sensed and shown;
a promise calling them ahead, a future yet unknown.

While others bowed to changeless gods thy met a mystery,
invisible, without a name, “I AM WHAT I WILL BE”;
and by their tents, around their fires, in story, song and law,
they praised, remembered, handed on a past that promised more.

From Exodus to Pentecost the promise changed and grew,
while some, remembering the past, recorded what they knew,
or with their letters and laments, their prophecy and praise
recovered, kindled and expressed new hope for changing days.
For all the writings that survived, for leaders, long ago,
who sifted, copied, and preserved the Bible that we know,
give thanks, and find its story yet our promise, strength and call,
the model of emerging faith, alive with hope for all.
Brian Wren, 1973, 1994

How do you feel about the Bible?
What parts disturb you or cause you to question?
What is your core belief that you have found in the Bible?

In studying the Bible always ask yourself the question: “What does the text mean for today?” Use your imagination in your interpretation and “its story will become a model of emerging faith, alive with hope for all” and even for you.

Joyce D. Sohl, Laywoman-in-Residence


Joyce D. Sohl has been Laywoman-in-Residence since 2009 as a full-time volunteer. She retired as CEO of United Methodist Women in 2004. She is the author of 4 books, a teacher, retreat leader, writer and non-professional musician. Here at the Center her work is in the area of Spirituality & the Arts with such programs as Tuesdays in the Chapel, Vespers & All That Jazz, Poet’s Corner, quarterly retreats, and art exhibits.

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