Robert's Ruminations

The thoughts of Revd. Robert, Minister for Emmanuel, Ilfracombe

Finding the Genuine Article

It is the Spring of 1947. A young Bedouin shepherd boy is looking after his goats on the western shore of the Dead Sea. One of his goats strays away from the others and the dutiful young shepherd goes off to look for it. As he climbs higher up the side of the mountain following the errant goat, he finds a cave in the rock face. He throws a pebble into the cave, waiting for the familiar clatter of stone on stone, but instead there is an almighty crash of breaking pottery. Frightened that he had done something to get him into trouble, he runs away and finds his friend. Together, they return to the cave and go in, only to find several large clay jars, inside each of which, wrapped in a length of linen, what was to become one of the greatest modern finds in history – the Dead Sea Scrolls!

The two young enterprising shepherd boys tried to sell on their marvellous treasure, but no one was interested in some tatty old manuscripts which had obviously seen better days. Eventually, after being smuggled out of the country, the scrolls found their way to the USA and it was there that their true, historic value came to light. A Carbon-14 test on the linen wrappings revealed that what they had found had come form around the date of 33AD and scraps of the writings had come from a place called Qumran. It was recorded that around this time Jesus was teaching in a place not many miles away from Qumran – so putting these two facts together, so the legend of the Dead Sea Scrolls was born. Theologians and scholars agreed that these battered old scrolls really were the genuine article and so began the many years of translation and study that is still being undertaken on the fragments founds in the clay jars in a cave on a mountainside by two young shepherd boys.

I am sure that those two boys never really understood just what it is that they had unearthed whilst searching for their errant goat. But, proved to be the genuine article, so the course of religious history was changed. Suddenly, some of the missing facts about Jesus and his teachings were able to be filled in. Some of the misconceptions about the life of Jesus were clarified as the picture of Jesus, the Messiah, became clearer. That seemingly inconsequential find was to have a huge effect on the Christian church for ever.

It’s always amazing that when you discover what turns out to be the genuine article, then things can be changed for ever!! In today’s society, we find ourselves swamped by things that try to take over our lives. Advertising tries to persuade us to buy the latest ‘must have’ item. The media tries to mould our viewing tastes by forcing TV, video and internet down our throats at every turn (our 24/7 society never sleeps!!) Politicians try to tell us that we have never had it so good and there is better yet to come!! It becomes so difficult to find the genuine article in our lives.

God offers us the ‘genuine article’ – Jesus Christ – the one about whom those scrolls were written. With Christ in our lives we can find a new sense of direction and purpose. His teachings offer us a new way of living in which we share what we have and who we are with all those around us. Jesus calls this ‘loving your neighbour’. A right way of living. And he promises that if we can do that then we too can reap the benefits that God can offer to us – a sense of knowing a God whose love and care for us knows no bounds and is everlasting.

We don’t have to go scrambling around on some rocky mountainside and stumble across a cave to find the ‘genuine article’. It is already here waiting for us to receive freely – the love that God shows to us. So, reach out and take it, just as it is offered, and revel in it for all days to come.

Every blessing,


Singing the right song!


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Thursday, 23 January 2020

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