As our congregation prepares to give out Bibles to our children, I am flooded with memories of Bibles that I have received through the years.
I can clearly remember getting my first Bible from First Presbyterian Church of Plainsboro in September of my Third Grade year. It is a red NIV Bible with my name engraved in gold on the hard front cover. On the inside page, is a brief note from Evelyn Katerba, a member of FPCP, in charge of Sunday School and is signed by our pastor, Bob Slusher.
I carried that Bible every week to Sunday School. I took pride in always having my Bible on Sunday mornings, though I wonder if Rev. Slusher knew that I just left in the back of my mom’s car to insure that I would “have” it.
I still have that Bible, but it isn’t the Bible I read from. While others were highlighting and busy taking notes in their Bible. I wanted mine to stay in pristine condition and never dared to write anything—not even a pencil mark to note where to begin or stop reading when I was liturgist on Sunday mornings.
By high school, I had moved onto my Parallel Bible. When our new pastor arrived during my Middle School years, he had this type of Bible which I thought was “WAY COOL.” So I begged my parents to get me one for Christmas my freshmen year in HS. (So very Jesus nerdy I know) This Bible had the KJV, Living Bible, NIV, and RSV all in parallel columns. I love, love, loved it. Though it was a little bulky to carry around.
My freshman year in college, I realized that I needed a smaller Bible and all my religion professors were talking about the NRSV translation. So during Parent’s Weekend that first year, I begged my mom to buy me yet another Bible. A small black faux leather NRSV Bible that I could cart to class, to Bible Study, and to Church.
And then before seminary while serving a congregation in Weatherford, Texas, I received a copy of the NRSV Student Bible. This is the Bible I used to lead Youth Ministry discussions, study from in Seminary, do adult ed preparations at Eastminster Presbyterian, and prepare sermons from at Second Presbyterian Church.
This is the same Bible that was in my large handbag that was stolen from our house, along with my laptop, in September 2011. I searched tons of garbage cans in Charles Village looking for that Bible. It had so many notes, sermon ideas, lesson materials written in the margin. It was like losing a personal diary. It was filled with sticky notes, four leaf clovers, and thank you cards I had received over the years. I could instantly find a passage, as I knew almost from heart where my favorites were located. While I liked, loved, and appreciated my other Bibles—I had made a home in this Bible.
As we prepare to give Bibles to our Pre-K to 1st graders, 3rd-5th graders, and Confirmation Class, I hope they will make a home in their Bibles. I hope it won’t be something they keep in their parents’ car or be afraid to write it (like me), but rather be a place where they can write questions, add reflections, and put small objects of memories.
I have a new Bible now, though it doesn’t feel like home. It is going to take time and effort on my part to make it feel like home. How much time and effort? I don’t know, but I do know that with constant use like writing notes and comments from sermons I hear, studies I lead, writing my questions, stuffing the binding with cards and memories this Bible can begin to feel like home.
Do you have a Bible that feels like home?