Photo: Jeremy Bishop (Unsplash.com)
I love to go barefoot.
Somehow free toes signal to my brain that it is ‘my time’. For years now I have regularly kicked off my shoes around my carpeted home. Safe and predictable ground.
More recently, however, my bare feet have taken me beyond the artificial. Like many others I have taken up the art of barefoot running.
A mere six months later and my unshod feet had taken me further and over more diverse terrain than I ever imagined. These times brought me closer to God and creation while keeping me – quite literally – in touch with the earth. A humble and grounded style of running.
The experience became for me something of a parable.
Like going barefoot, I hope Barefoot Follower: Inviting Reflection on the Stories of Jesus is life-giving enough to become a place to go when it is ‘your time’. I also hope these stories and reflections can accompany you through life’s varying terrain – to familiar, adventurous, perhaps even dangerous places.
I also pray they would draw you deeper into God and God’s gift of life than you ever imagined. Within the gospels – and indeed the rest of the Bible – there are stories with the potential to keep us earthed, grounded, humble.
So, to this end, Barefoot Follower offers each week one, two or three reflections from the New Testament. I have also added some of the sermons and prayers they inspire.
Of course there are many lectionaries communities choose to follow. Given that I live down-under, I choose to follow An Australian Lectionary: A Prayer Book for Australia (Broughton Publishing). For those who follow this Barefoot Follower may prove helpful in preparation for corporate worship. Of course, it is not necessary to be using this system to use the site. In fact, I now work at a church that does not use a lectionary at all!
The reflections are not intended to be verse by verse commentary – they are somewhat rawer. They seek to hold both the value of careful reading alongside the value of imagination. The respectful reading, to my mind, seeks first to identify the story a text tells. If it is faithful to the nature of ‘story’, however, it will always invite more – for every good story is an invitation for our imaginations to take flight. I see no good reason to read these stories differently.
So who is Mark Beresford?
I am a follower (or student) of Jesus. I have worked for independent, Anglican, and Baptist churches as a pastor, chaplain, seminar presenter, and lecturer. I am currently the Creative Director and pastor of the Gungahlin community at Mosaic Baptist Church in Canberra, Australia.
All this, however, is not my core motive – I have been enthralled by the stories of Jesus for much longer than I have worked for, been a leader of, or been ordained in the church. Indeed, these stories have captured and held my imagination for the vast majority of my life. I remain, before anything else, a follower of Jesus.
So, it is my hope and prayer that whoever you are and wherever you are coming from you might find something earthy, thought-provoking and life-giving in these readings and their reflections. I hope they amount, not to an angry cursing of the darkness, but to a joyful celebration of the light.
May they add to your journey.