Bishop's letter: Learn from the Master

31st August 2023

When you hear the word ‘disciple’, what comes into your mind? A learner? A follower? A super Christian? Someone kitted out in Biblical dress complete with robe, sandals, tea towel head covering and beard?

The New Testament’s word for disciple doesn’t quite match any of these descriptions. It’s much closer to the word we’d use in English for ‘apprentice’.

Back in history, and still today, to be an apprentice meant spending time in the presence of a master in order to learn a craft – maybe carpentry, or blacksmithing, baking or butchery. You’d start out doing the simple stuff – sweeping floors or sharpening tools. Then gradually you’d acquire more and more skills until you learnt to work confidently with materials producing beautiful things, products of utility and worth. Apprentices often learnt their craft while living alongside their masters, becoming members of their trade through time spent together at work and rest and play. 

Jesus was often called ‘the carpenter’s son’ – apprenticed to his worldly father Joseph, growing in skill at the plane and the lathe. He was also the apprentice of his heavenly father. The Gospels speak of Jesus withdrawing to spend time with God in order to know God’s mind, hear God’s voice, grow in God’s ways. 

Apprenticeship was and is a story of growth, development, discovery and change. It’s the journey that Jesus invites us to take with him too – of baby steps and toddler stumbles, of emerging skill and increasing understanding. 

Churches near you are offering opportunities to apprentice yourself to Jesus this autumn - from practical action that gets you involved in Jesus’s service to the world, to learning and discussion that comes with courses such as Alpha, Exploring Christianity or Pilgrim. 

Why not sign yourself up and learn from the Master?

Every blessing

Bishop Michael

This letter featured in the September 2023 edition of the Manna mailing.

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