My family of origin has given me the unofficial role of being the family historian. Upon the deaths of my paternal grandmother and then my mother, I received boxes and trunks filled with unsorted ancestral treasures. While this wholeheartedly satisfied my personal interest, curiosity and need for order, the endless decisions about what to keep and not to keep, has been daunting. Without hesitation, it was the brittle prayer books and bibles used by generations of faithful men and women before me that I saved. Among my grandmother’s collection of keepsakes is a first edition of the Life of Our Lord by Charles Dickens. The inscription reads: To my grandson Donald Rowe Williams Jr. from his grandmother Winston. Pasadena, Calif. June 1935. My great-grandmother gave this simple narrative of the life of Christ to my father when he was four years old as a symbolic gesture and commitment to passing the faith on to the next generation.
In the church where my children grew up, the third graders were gifted with their own Bible every September during the worship service. While I still have their Bibles, and I am warmed by the pictures of my children proudly receiving them, I have no memory of reading that Bible with them. It was most likely because I had little experience reading the Bible myself and was given no direction on how to teach my children. Giving Bibles to children is an endearing and memorable moment, but if the Bible sits on a shelf collecting dust, it serves no purpose at all. I have since learned how to use the Bible and read my cherished copy every day. It is what keeps me grounded, full of faith and hope.
On Sunday, September 20th, the Naples UCC children in preschool – 6th grade will be gifted with Bibles, lovingly inscribed by member Sherry Latimer. It’s not a problem that we can’t hold a formal presentation in the sanctuary! We just move the whole family outside! We will celebrate, learn new skills, and play Bible games together. On that Sunday and beyond, it will be my privilege to inspire, encourage and equip this next generation of parents to keep the Bible off the shelf and into the hands and hearts of their children. I hope reading the Bible will make a lasting impact on their family’s faith and daily life.
The more we read the Bible, the more we see and know of God. The more we know God, the more we come to love God. And the more we love God, the more we want to be with God. And the more we are fortified by God’s love for us and all of creation, the more we are inspired to be a reflection of Christ’s love to the world.
For those who are new to reading the Bible:
Generous God, your word in the Bible is such a valuable gift. Thank you for showing us who you are through the stories and promises in it. Please help us to remember that when we read our Bibles, we will always find hope, comfort and light for our path. Amen.
Director of Children’s Ministry
Activities for Home:
Read Psalm 119:105 Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. What word jumps out when you read this verse? Why? Turn the lights out for a minute. How do you feel in the dark? When you turn on the lights again, how do you feel? Have you ever compared God’s Word to the light given by a lamp? How does God’s Word help you see?
Learn the books of the Bible by writing each of the 66 books on a separate clothespin. Work together to hang them in order on a clothes hanger. For a list of the books, click here.