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From Genesis to Revelation

To mark Bible Sunday, manga artist Siku, recounts the story of the entire Bible, from Genesis to Revelation in one service.

To mark Bible Sunday, the Manga artist and theologian, Siku, brings the Bible to life in a way it has never been heard before. He takes the story from Genesis to Revelation in a service that combines music, prayer and bible readings with the drama of the overarching narrative of the bestselling book of all time.

This is a book that has changed the world and the lives of many individuals. It has inspired art, literature and music. It is regarded by many as the foundation of western thought, culture and morality.

It's a story of pride and passion, faith and hope in which nations and powers rise and fall. It is filled with fascinating twists and turns, colourful characters and beautiful poetry as the narrative develops from creation to the end of the world.

Traditional choral music, hymns and contemporary gospel songs are interwoven with the biblical narrative, providing both a moment for reflection and an augmentation of this account of scripture. The Huddersfield Singers and AINE are directed by Alexander Douglas and accompanied by Graham Eccles.

Producer: Katharine Longworth.

38 minutes

Last on

Sun 23 Oct 2016 08:10

Script

This script cannot exactly reflect the transmission, as it was prepared before the service was broadcast. It may include editorial notes prepared by the producer, and minor spelling and other errors that were corrected before the radio broadcast.
It may contain gaps to be filled in at the time so that prayers may reflect the needs of the world, and changes may also be made at the last minute for timing reasons, or to reflect current events.

Opening Anno:
BBC Radio 4.  And now Sunday Worship comes live from Manchester and celebrates Bible Sunday. The artist and theologian, Siku, brings the Bible to life in a way it has never been heard before. In this dramatic retelling of the Bible, he takes the story from Genesis to Revelation in a service that combines bible readings with music and prayer to convey the overarching narrative of the bestselling book of all time. 

 Prelude

SIKU:
In the Beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.

MUSIC – Huddersfield Singers + Organ
The Spacious Firmament’ (set to The Heavens are Telling) – vs 1&2

 Movement 1

SIKU: [HUMAN BEGINS]

The earth was without form, and it was void…
The Spirit of God moved over the watery abyss…
Then God said “Let there be light!”, and there was light.

Out of nothing God sent forth everything we know, everything we see, everything we smell, touch and taste and even those things too far for us to ever encounter. God created them.
Dividing night from day, he caused breath in the lungs of every living creature.
And finally, breathing life into a creature made in his own image.
Male and female, he made them. 
Two to tend,
Two to reproduce,
Two to flourish and thrive in that garden of paradise.
Everything they surveyed was theirs: as far as the eye could see.
But not… not quite everything…
Not that tree...
Not that fruit…
That tender… juicy… succulent…, low hanging… strange-fruit…
swaying/quivering in the gentle breeze.
“Go on” said the serpent, “Go on, what harm could it do”. 
And so she, then he, sunk their teeth into the soft flesh, juice still running down their chins onto their bare flesh, as they realised both their nakedness and their mistake… their shame.

And so burdened with guilt and shame the humans hid, but who can hide from the almighty? 
“Not I, the woman” said he. 
“Not I, the serpent” said she. 
But too late, the deed was done and the sentence was decreed; Banishment, pain in labour and labour in pain. As for the serpent… “…dust…”

And so begins the story of all stories; how heaven meets earth and humanity meets the divine.
And so the generations continued, Cain killed Abel, his blood crying out from the dirt and from one generation to the next the world went on until it was completely overrun with every possible evil.

In those days, God regretted creating humanity, and so he planned to send a great flood to wipe out creation. First, however, he was going to tell one human about his plans. That human’s name was Noah.


READER:  (Female voice) Genesis 7

A reading from the Book of Genesis Chapter 7 beginning at verse 1:

Then the Lord said to Noah, “Go into the ark, you and all your household, for I have seen that you alone are righteous before me in this generation. Take with you seven pairs of all clean animals, the male and its mate; and a pair of the animals that are not clean, the male and its mate; and seven pairs of the birds of the air also, male and female, to keep their kind alive on the face of all the earth.  For in seven days I will send rain on the earth for forty days and forty nights; and every living thing that I have made I will blot out from the face of the ground.”  And Noah did all that the Lord had commanded him.

The water subsided leaving the whole world ready for a new start. So out went the beasts, the birds, the creepy-crawlies, into freedom.  And out came the family, blinking in the sunlight as it shone on the pools left behind.  In the sky a bright bow of colour, a promise of hope – a promise of “never again”.


Reader:  (Female voice)  Prayer – Psalm 31

We pray using the words of Psalm 31 verse 19

Lord,
How abundant are the good things
that you have stored up for those who fear you,
that you bestow in the sight of all,
on those who take refuge in you.
ALL: Amen

MUSIC – Huddersfield Singers + Organ
Psalm 150 – (Chilcott, OUP Book of Flexible Anthems p.203)


SIKU: [HUMAN PROMISE: (ABRAHAM AND ISAAC)]

And so the populations of the earth began to increase with vitality, culture, commerce, and Empire building.
In the midst of all this human buzz, one man, well advanced in years would look up into the starry night sky. “Count the stars—if you can indeed count them” God said, “So shall your offspring be”.

Abram believed God and God would therefore declare Abram to be righteous. That night, God cut a covenant with Abram.
Now, though Abram believed God, Sarai, his wife, was well past the age of fertility. But nothing is impossible for God. Sarai conceived and gave birth to a baby boy. With joyful glee they called him “Laughter”… that is, Isaac. 
Abram and Sarai went on to found a great nation – it was for this that Abram became Abraham, and Sarai, Sarah; for he would father many nations.
Isaac would father Jacob, and Jacob went on to father 12 sons.
One of the twelve was Joseph. By the hand of God Joseph was sold into slavery in Egypt where he rose from prison inmate to Governor of Egypt. It was by God’s hand that Joseph averted a great famine in the East. It was by God’s hand that Joseph would be reunited with his estranged family.
By God’s hand Joseph and his clan was highly esteemed in Egypt.
It was by God’s hand that Israel would find safety in Egypt.  
Then a new king arose… he did not know ‘God’s hand’. He did not know this… “Joseph”.

 [POWER TRIP!  (Moses and the exodus)]

This new Pharaoh was dismayed at the population explosion and economic vitality of Joseph’s clan. He would destroy their power base by enslaving them.
But that proved futile, for Joseph’s clan kept increasing; the king’s oppression created a population boon!
That was how the ruinous edict mandating the infanticide of Hebrew boys came into force.
The cries of murdered infants, grieving families filled the air in the slave enclaves of Egypt. Then God heard the cry of Israel. From their ranks, he raised a champion within the very household of the king.
One day this champion would stand in front of another pharaoh, with a staff that would tame an Empire in hand, and a word from God declaring, Let my people go!”
That champion was Moses.

MUSIC – AINE + Keyboard
Go Down, Moses – arranged Alexander Douglas

 Movement 2

SIKU:  [ROGUE NATION: 40 years wondering in the desert]

It had been months since God saw it fit to visit Egypt and her Pharaoh with pestilence, horror and tragedy. Weeks since the king of mighty Egypt let God’s people go.
Days since this nation of slaves parted the Red Sea – this ‘Rogue Nation’. As the rogue nation backed up against the Red Sea, God had whispered in the night breeze to Moses, “Don’t be afraid. I will fight this war for you.” “The children of Israel will cross on dry land. I will cause the Egyptians to chase after you. After my children have crossed, I will cover the red Sea again and send your enemies to their doom.” “Egypt shall know that I am the Lord.”
Accompanied by a cooling pillar of cloud by day and a ferocious pillar of fire by night, Israel would continue their trek across the western edge of the Sinai desert toward Mount Sinai. They survived on a diet of manna which fell like morning dew each evening. It looked like coriander seed and tasted like wafers made with honey.
Eventually, the trek took its toll on rogue nation. They began to complain; they complained about the diet, complained about water, complained about Moses’ leadership and some even began to regret this current path to freedom! God would ease their burdens by providing quail meat and finally, eventually they approached Mount Sinai.
Finally, they were going to be introduced to their God.


MUSIC - Huddersfield Singers + Organ
‘Guide me, O Thou Great Redeemer’


READER: (Male voice) Exodus 20

A reading from the Book of Exodus chapter 20 beginning at verse 3

 “You shall have no other gods before me.
 “You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below.
 “You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.
 “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy…”
 “Honour your father and your mother…
 “You shall not murder.
 “You shall not commit adultery.
 “You shall not steal.
 “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.
 “You shall not covet…”
Siku:
At the foot of the dark mountain, Israel met her God. He cut covenant with her and commanded Moses to set up a tabernacle: a tent of meeting. The tent would house the Law, the ark, gold altar, lamps and other items. The cloud of God then covered the tabernacle by day, and the pillar of fire covered it by night. This all occurred in the first year of Israel’s freedom. They would become a roving nation; for the next 40 years, guided by the two great pillar phenomena, they would make camp, then break camp until the entire generation of grumblers expired.
A new vibrant, fervent and zealous generation would enter the Promised Land. They could see… they could smell it… they could taste it. And they would be led by Joshua.

[THE WILD WILD EAST: Joshua in the Promised Land]

Ah, the famed walls of Jericho.
Unbreachable,
Impregnable,
Impenetrable…
safe.
That was what the ‘Jerichoans’ would have thought. Nah… THAT WAS WHAT THE WHOLE INHABITANTS OF THE EAST THOUGHT! Even the very gods would have found the walls of Jericho a feat; A masterpiece born out of human genius.
Then Israel and her desert God brought ruin to it.


You see, Israel’s fighting men led a silent six day march around the walled city of Jericho. On the 7th day they marched around the city 7 times, and then the priests blew their ram horns. This inspired the rest of the Hebrews who shouted with a loud battle cry… then the impossible happened, Jericho’s walls came crashing down.
Nothing was spared save for a certain collaborator known as Rahab. She remembered the stories of Israel’s exploits in the desert, she feared Israel’s God. The fear of God was something the other neighbouring cities were going to have to get used to; but some of those nations were not very good at learning.


MUSIC: AINE + keyboard
‘Joshua fit the battle of Jericho’ arranged Alexander Douglas


SIKU:
Then came a time when each Israelite did as they saw fit. This was the generation that emerged from the desert heat after Joshua’s death. The generation after the revolution; they never witnessed the power of God in the desert. They abandoned the ways of God following in the wake of the abominable practices of their neighbouring nations; setting up graven images and bowing down before their gods!
God then delivered his people into the hands of other nations… then Israel cried out to God. He heard her cry and gave her deliverers called ‘Judges’; Gideon, Deborah, Samson… then the prophet Samuel.

The age of the judges would give way to the age of kings. The stories of arrogant Saul, the great David and the glorious Solomon adorn Hebrew history with prestige, but the age of kings would bring ruin to Israel just as God foretold. The tyrannical Rehoboam and the incapable Jeroboam would split the kingdom apart, the latter to rule the South, the former to rule the North. The Southern kingdom had a succession of bad kings or not-so-bad kings punctuated by great kings like Hezekiah and Josiah. But up north, each successive king was worse than the former; a line of succession riddled with assassinations and fratricide. When we scrape this particular proverbial barrel of deplorables, we can’t get any lower than a certain Phoenician royal, now Queen of Israel, Jezebel and her consort, King Ahab. The Northern Kingdom’s path is now set… hardwired… finished! In a few generations, her population would be vanquished… dispersed all over the world.

SIKU: [Elijah]
“So this is Israel’s trouble maker!” king Ahab protests as he eyes God’s prophet, Elijah. 3 years of drought had devastated Israel under God’s judgement. The prophet Elijah had proclaimed it 3 years ago… now he was going to finish it. He challenges Jezebel’s 400 Baal prophets to a contest of ‘the Consuming Fire’ on Mount Carmel; A contest which the Baal prophets loose, leading to the vanquishing of Jezebel’s power base and ultimately the end of Ahab’s line.


Now, if Elijah made his mark on the guilty in the North, the prophet Isaiah did so in the Southern Kingdom. He, more than any other, would make more clear, the promise of the coming of Israel’s messiah-king. Even after all is lost… there is still HOPE.

READER: (Male Voice) Isaiah 61

A Reading from the Prophet Isaiah chapter 61 beginning at verse 1
 
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
    because the Lord has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
    to proclaim freedom for the captives
    and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
    and the day of vengeance of our God,

SIKU: [THE END OF AN ERA:]
In spite of the Southern Kingdom’s great Kings, her people never really turned away from her deplorable practices. [Not really. Her outward show of God’s religion was never heart-felt, sooner rather than later, she slithered back to evil’s succulent strange-fruit.] Eventually, the mighty empire of New Babylon would remove her peoples and take away Judea’s nobles in chains. But there is always hope. New Babylon would fall and a new empire would rise. Judah would find favour with King Cyrus of the Medo-Persian Empire; he would make every effort to return exiled Judeans and helped finance the reconstruction of Jerusalem’s walls and temple.

Ever since Moses led the Hebrew tribes through the desert, God had been promising he would raise another prophet like Moses.

The new prophet would lead the whole of humankind through the wilderness to another promised land.
There, he would build a new temple: a temple filled with God’s glory. But this temple would not be made from bricks and mortar; rather, it would be made of flesh and bones.
A temple, in the form of a human being!

But that would not be for another 500 years…

 Movement 3

SIKU:  [IT BEGINS:]
(The birth of Jesus)
And there rose another power; one that was more brutal, more powerful than the former. The children of Israel, burdened by Rome, cried out to the Lord. Then God heard the cry of Israel. From their ranks, he raised a champion within the very household of the Judah.

MUSIC:  AINE + KEYBOARD
‘O Come, Let Us Adore Him’ (gospel, arr. AD)

One day this champion would stand in front of ‘kings’, with a staff that would tame Empires, and a word from God declaring, “…proclaim freedom for the captives!”
That champion is born in the little town where the cry of murdered infants, grieving families fills the air in the little enclave that is Bethlehem.
This night, as King Herod’s terror reigns across Bethlehem, a carpenter, his wife and their child survives the slaughter by escaping into Egypt.

Herod dies and his kingdom is divided amongst his sons: Herod Antipas, Philip the tetrarch and Archelaus.
Hearing of the insane king’s death, the carpenter and his wife, Mary and child return to Israel. Rather than return to his home town of Bethlehem under the insane Archelaus’ domain, he heads up north to Nazareth in Galilee.

Years later, a peculiar prophet, filled with God’s Spirit from birth returns from the Jordanian desert and announces the imminent arrival of God’s kingdom. He was popularly known as The Baptizer, his name was John. He baptised huge numbers in the River Jordan and upon seeing the carpenter’s son, he declares, “I know some of you ask if I am the Messiah, but look! There He is! One whose shoes I am not worthy to unlace.
“Yes, I baptise you with Water... but he will baptise you with the Holy Spirit, and with Fire.”

The carpenter’s son to whom he referred was Jesus. 40 days later, Jesus would also return from the desert…he TOO would make a proclamation… he would proclaim that the Kingdom of God had indeed arrived.

READER: (female voice) - The Lords Prayer

We pray using the words of Jesus found in the Gospel of Matthew.

ALL:
Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.

Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread.

And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever.
Amen.



SIKU: [THE LIBERATOR COMETH:]
He began to lay sign posts for the people; A breadcrumb trail that pointed to the prophecy uttered by Isaiah. First, he turned water into wine at a wedding feast, cast out devils from the possessed, healed the maimed, the chronically ill, the blind. It was when he began to raise the dead, still the storm and feed the thousands from two loaves of bread and five fish that people began to understand the seismic… cosmic… implications of this man’ life! Right there and then the crowd tried to crown him king, then he would lead them to overthrow the Romans in a bloody coup, then peace for a thousand years… but this was not God’s plan. God had planned to save the whole of creation, once and for all. Jesus knew this, so he slipped away.
Besides the works-of-wonder, there were the words-of-wonder; when he asked, “Who is my Neighbour?” his answer was both terrifyingly vulgar and yet supremely redeeming! His parables of The Good Samaritan and The Prodigal Son sent his audience reeling, gasping for air in repentance and awe at God’s grace! But not all were in awe. The power-brokers and stake-holders knew how dangerous all this lurving would be getting and they were going to do something about it.
 

READERS: (Male Voices)  [TO SLAY GOD:]

Voice 1:
“Are you the king of the Jews?”

Voice 2:
“Are you asking for yourself, or did others tell you this about me?”

Voice 1:
“Am I a Jew? Your own people delivered you to me.”

SIKU:
A few hours ago, Jesus sat down with the faithful twelve who had walked with him in the last three years. They sat for the last supper before his time of trouble. But not all twelve were faithful, for there was one that remained faithless, and now as the hour approaches, he is ready to give himself entirely to Satan. Jesus, turning to him, spoke, “What you are about to do, do it quickly.” With this, Judas left into the night.
A few hours later, Jesus would be standing in front of Rome’s Prefect, Pontius Pilate, on trial.


“I find no bases for a charge against this man!” Pilate shouted to the crowd after interviewing Jesus and having him severely flogged. As Jesus emerged on the platform, shredded and bloodied, the crowd screamed, “CRUCIFY! CRUCIFY!”
Pilate, a man not unaccustomed to brutality was weary, for his wife had warned about the events that were unfolding.
“Shall I crucify your king?”
To which the partisan mob of the Establishment cried, “We have no king but Caesar!”
And so, God came unto his own, but his own knew him not. They slayed him on a tree as it was foretold from ancient times.

MUSIC: Huddersfield Singers + Organ
‘O Sacred Head Now Wounded’

 

SIKU:  [The resurrection and ascension]
3 days later, a lady stands perplexed in a tomb, she is weeping. Two persons are sat where Jesus’ body once lay, “Woman, why are you crying?” “They have taken my Lord away and I don’t know where they have put him.” Another man stands behind her, she assumes he is the gardener until he whispers, “Mary!”

There would be many such appearances to the faithful. He ate with them, taught them and on one occasion, cooked for them!
Then it was time to go; out at the vicinity of Bethany, he blessed them as he was taken up into heaven, when he disappeared out of sight they returned home to Jerusalem, full of joy.
MUSIC: AINE + keyboard
Now the Green Blade Riseth (contemporary “Jazz” version)


[ROGUE NATION 2: PENTECOST, EARLY CHURCH AND ]

SIKU:
Before he ascended into heaven, Jesus gave orders to the apostles to wait in Jerusalem for the gift God had promised.

‘You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and to the ends of the earth.’

After Jesus had said these words he ascended into heaven. Now, back in Jerusalem, all the disciples and followers ate and prayed together. Suddenly, a sound like a violent wind came from heaven and filled the house. The disciples were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages...
Many thereafter would follow Jesus the Christ including the zealous Saul, later called Paul.


READER: (female voice)  Prayer:

We pray now using the words of St Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, Chapter 3 beginnning at verse 14.

We kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. We pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen us with power through his Spirit in our inner being, so that Christ may dwell in our hearts through faith.
And we pray that we, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that we may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,  to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever!
All: Amen

At last, it dawned on them that when the authorities had killed Jesus, God had in fact kick-started a revolution.

Epilogue

Toward the end of the first Century AD, John the divine, a servant of Christ, wrote in this book, saying;


READER: (Male Voice)
I was in the spirit one day
When I heard a loud voice.
I turned and saw one like
Christ. He said to me...
“Do not be afraid.
I am the living one; I was dead, and now look,
I am alive forever.
I am making everything new.”

“I shall wipe every tear from their eyes.
There will be no more death or
Mourning or crying or
Pain, for the old order of
Things has passed away.”

He who was seated on the
Throne then said:
“Behold, I come quickly.”

Come quickly, Lord Jesus, Amen.


Music: Huddersfield singers + organ
 ‘Hark, the Glad Sound’ (doddridge/walford davies, church anthem book p.126) []



SIKU: [Blessing - Numbers 6:24-26]

The lord bless you
And keep you;
The lord make his face shine on you
And be gracious to you;
The lord turn his face toward you
And give you peace.”


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