If you happened to have wandered into the Commons yesterday, here’s what you might have heard:

The cover was white, kind of a papery, plastic-y material, with Precious Moments characters dressed up as biblical heroes.

It was the one I used for sword drills: hardcover red, with red letters scattered throughout the New Testament.

I found mine recently when going through my mom’s boxes of stuff — a little pink New Testament, given by my church at my dedication.

My most memorable one was the teen study version — highlighted and dog-eared and written in in my feverishly pious adolescent hand.

I remember when my pastor (for whom I am named!) gave it to me upon the occasion of my baptism — green with my name in gold.

It was one of the great losses of the fire that ravaged our home all those years ago. No longer did I have my childhood Bible.

These memories, fresh and clear despite the years, spilled forth from all of us in response to the prompt, “tell us your name and why you’re here, and share a bit about your first Bible.” It seems these first experiences with holy Word and words made quite the impression in our young lives — from the giver to the cover, from the feelings it evoked to what it told us about God and faith.

This experience of scripture is the center point for our Common Table study this month. And if our memories of those first Bibles are any clue, it seems that our experiences with the Bible are layered and complex. Many in our group articulated gratitude for the way that the Bible has offered comfort in times of suffering, protection in seasons of fear, guidance in moments of discernment. Many also shared their anger at the way scripture had been used and abused — to keep the oppressed bound, to restrict voice and limit love, to sow confusion or certainty, to render doubts and questions as heresy. But somehow, despite our imperfect human efforts, we continue to return to these sacred words, a wellspring of truth and inspiration.

Guided by Rachel Held Evans’ book Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again, I anticipate a meaningful examination of the arc of scripture — God’s long narrative that unfolds from Genesis to Revelation, all the while inviting us into the grand story of redemption and reconciliation, deliverance and resistance, wisdom and prophecy, and love… love above all else.

In the Introduction to the book, Ms. Evans quotes New Testament scholar N. T. Wright who says this:
Scripture is like a five-act play, full of drama and surprise, wherein the people of God are invited into the story to improvise the unfinished, final act. Our ability to faithfully execute our roles in the drama depends on our willingness to enter the narrative, to see how our own stories intersect with the grander epic of God’s redemption in the world. Every page of scripture serves as an invitation — to wonder, to wrestle, to surrender to the adventure.

The memories are fresh. The issues are real. But God’s invitation to a grand adventure stands waiting!

Together in God’s work of Love,

Pastor Emily

Ps- The picture above is a stack of meaningful Bibles from important seasons of my life. And yes, that is a vintage 1980s framed Bible Drill certificate in the back!

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