Thursday, 23 September 2021


IS your computer sluggish? Frequent use of certain programmes and documents causes pieces of information to be scattered, requiring the computer to search for them before effective use can occur.

If we are honest with ourselves, this is not just a computer issue, is it? Our lives can too easily become fragmented as we neglect God’s Word.

During Lent would it not strengthen our purpose and refocus us if we committed ourselves afresh to reading and obeying God’s Word? God’s precious, life-giving word helps us make sense of the messiness of the world around us — and indeed to make sense of our own lives.

My mind goes to Mary Jones. Mary Jones, born in December 1784 into a poor Welsh family. Her father was a weaver: their home at Tynoddol at the foot of Cader Idris mountain in Gwynedd, North Wales.

Mary learnt to read via the circulating schools organised by Thomas Charles, a preacher from nearby Bala who wanted to educate children from poor families.

Having learnt to read, Mary (who had become a Christian aged eight) discovered the light the Bible provided and regularly walked two miles to a farm fortunate to possess the Scriptures to read them.

Her burning desire was to possess the Scriptures (Bible) of her own. She saved for six years so she might purchase a copy for herself.

One morning in 1800 Mary set out to buy her Bible. The nearest place to buy one was Bala, 25 miles away. She walked barefoot through valleys, around mountains and through streams to get there.

Eventually, she arrived in Bala at the home of Thomas Charles, the only man in the town who had Bibles for sale. All the Bibles had either been sold or promised to others.

Mary wept hearing this news. The despair and evident hunger she had for the word of God caused Thomas Charles to sell her a copy promised to another.

Her 1799 Welsh Bible, which also contains the Book of Common Prayer in Welsh, is now in Cambridge University Library.

Mary Jones was to be the catalyst for the formation of the British and Foreign Bible Society, founded in London in 1804 for the printing and distribution of Bibles at home and abroad.

The scarcity of Bibles in Wales caused Thomas Charles to make representations to the “Religious Tract Society”, which took on this endeavour. From this emanated the Bible Society.

No wonder Mary Jones so eagerly wanted a Bible. No wonder John Wesley (1703-1791) said he longed to be a man of “one book”. No wonder the great Archbishop William Temple (1881-1944) said: “Drink it like beer, not sip it like sherry!” They each found that this book reaches the parts of our lives no other book can.

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