27th June 2022

Recently in Church we were asked to think about what had influenced us into deciding that we would try to follow Christ.

As I write, we are approaching the longest day and I was reminded of a big influence in my decision to be baptised.

As a student I went with friends to Norway on a youth hostelling holiday for nearly three weeks. There was little room in a rucksack for books. I probably took one of those fat classics that you are ‘supposed’ to read. (Tolstoy’s ‘War and Peace’ went to Austria two years later!)

I also took a very small diary-sized copy of John’s gospel (New English Bible version).

I read it over three or four evenings lying in a hostel bunk in dormitories with no curtains and the light still good enough to read at 11.30 in midsummer Norway.

I read it as you would read any ordinary book, straight through wanting to know what came next. Of course, I had heard readings from John in church. I had gone to church most Sundays most of my life but this was different. As a narrative of someone’s experience did it make sense? And yes, it did.

My course to eventual baptism after this was not straightforward but I still recall finishing the gospel at Skjolden on the Sognefjord in late golden sunset. (I still have that copy of John’s Gospel.)

If you have never read one of the gospels straight through you might like to try it.

Margaret Clements