Faith & Worship
Welcome to St John’s Church. We are a richly-diverse congregation and this variety is reflected both in our many activities and in the styles of worship we embrace. Whether you encounter God most readily in the liturgical serenity of Choral Evensong or our far more noisy and highly-participative all-age services, we hope very much you will find a home here.
James Grenfell writes,
The Bible is an extraordinary library of sixty-six books which has shaped not only the life and witness of Christian community throughout the world but has indelibly influenced entire societies and cultures. The celebration this year of the 400th anniversary of the King James version of the Bible has highlighted just how deeply English language and culture have been influenced by this translation.
While the cultural, linguistic and historical significance of particular translations of the Bible are fascinating, the central and continuing challenge to Christian communities is how faithfully to interpret these texts for our contemporary lives of discipleship. How do we do justice to the dual nature of Scripture as both words written by human beings and also the word of God?
One fruitful way of understanding how best to unite confessional and academic approaches to interpreting the Bible is provided by Frances Young in her book The Art of Performance. In the book she compares the challenge of interpreting the Bible to the interpretation and performance of a classic piece of music from the past.
What makes for a good and authentic performance of the musical score? It is possible to have a professional but rather wooden performance or to have one which is far more amateur but which is captivating. Both of those are different again from the transcendent subtlety of a genuine master.
Just as an authentic performance of a classic piece of music from the past isn’t guaranteed by resorting to the use of period instruments and insisting that musicians revert to obsolete playing styles, so too it is not enough for interpreters of the Bible simply to attempt slavishly to repeat how the Bible has been interpreted in the past.
The task of the church is to find contemporary but authentic ways of ‘performing’ Scripture, namely reading and living the reality to which these texts bear witness. It is a challenge which will require prayer, a close critical attention to the texts themselves, and the creativity and courage to live out the truth which is found there. It is only in this way that the church will present a credible, authentic, and inspired performance in which the story of God’s mercy and love is communicated effectively the wider world.