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The Light Shines in the Darkness; A Rough Guide to the Bible in Advent

Why does Jesus make a difference? Why does someone who lived a very long time ago make it any better now? Why should I hope? Why should I care? What is the point of Jesus anyway?

The answer to these questions is found in the Bible, but the problem with the Bible is that it is very long and complex. It is difficult to know where to start. Many people start reading it like any other book at page 1 and move on to the end, usually giving up by page 45. Why? Because we know the end of the story, or we think that we do and the Bible is so strange in parts. The Bible was written in a different age in a different language and culture so can seem very alien to us. It is a bit like when we watch a Japanese film like ‘My Neighbor Totoro’, the plot can be difficult to follow as it is taken from a different culture and is a translation. Japanese culture is different to ours but far more similar than the culture of the biblical peoples. Despite this people still seem to think that they should be able to understand it very easily. So when we do try and read the Bible for the first time it can be quite distressing as it can make very little sense.

The Bible can be thought of like the ‘Lord of the Rings’ a long and complex saga. What most people know about Christianity is a hotchpotch of snapshots from the Bible, individual stories and how they all tie together is a bit of a mystery. If you have a friend who raves about ‘Game of Thones’, ‘Dr Who’ or another complex TV show, he says ‘you must watch it’. Then you start watching Episode 12 on Series 8, you sort of understand what is happening but the greater story you miss because you haven’t seen the build up. Even if you follow the series there is a year between each series. I forget what has happened in the previous series, so before I watch the new episodes a watch a summary of the story so far, just to remind myself. TV has always done this with a short summary from last week to remind us where we are in the story. The Bible is exactly the same it’s a saga a very long collection of individual stories that tie together into a massive grand narrative. So what I have done is created a catchup for the Bible. I have picked out 40 stories from the Bible, beginning at the beginning and working through to the end. Each reading has some ‘Top Tips’ to put it into context and help us understand what it means. So by the end, you should have an overview of the whole story of Christianity and an answer to why Jesus is so important.

It is vital that we read the Bible in the context of prayer. The Bible is not like any other book it is the word of God. God is trying to reveal himself to us in the stories that we read. In a way we are entering into a conversation with him, we are asking God how he has revealed himself to people in the past. We should then be able to see how God is acting in our lives. The story of the Bible is not a remote collection of ancient stories but is our story too. After all, the same God of Abraham, Jacob and Jeremiah, is our God today. Prayer can be difficult, so on the following page are some tips to get you started. Even if you have never picked up a Bible before you can join in.

The guide begins on day 1 and Jesus is born on day 25, so this is a great way to do Advent this year. The readings also tie in with the advent wreath which will be lit each Sunday in Advent. You can download the Light Shines in the Darkness below.

Light Shines in the darkness 2021
Download PDF • 419KB


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