This post was originally published on 11/1/2012
By Julie Hagen
This past Sunday we celebrated the 3rd grade Bible milestone. Children processed into worship and stood in front of the whole congregation before receiving their New Adventure Bible! I was honored to read the names of each child as Bibles were handed to their parents. Remembering the Promises made at Baptism, parents placed Bibles in their child’s hand. We encouraged them to read their Bibles and learn the stories of God’s people. We prayed that the Word of God would become alive and that they would be transformed by God’s teachings. Children held up their Bibles as the congregation applauded them in this important faith milestone.
But sadly that is the last time I’ll see most of those Bibles. Children are not bringing them to church because we haven’t created spaces for children to use them. The lesson for the day may be presented in the form of a skit, without a Bible in sight. Or a small group leader opens the Bible and reads the story, never allowing the child to hold the Bible or use their own. Children won’t continue to bring their Bibles unless they are invited to do so, knowing they will be opening them up and have leaders who have patience to help them find the lessons (And maybe even a surprise reward if they bring their Bible to church!) The Baptismal promise extends beyond just placing the Bible in a child’s hand, to teaching them to read it.
But then look at me. It’s embarrassing to admit how little I open my own Bible for personal devotion. In doing a quick poll with some of my colleagues, I realized I wasn’t alone. Very few of us open our Bibles during the week, outside of the necessity of work. How about you? Do you find time in your week to read God’s Word, not because you have to prepare a Sunday School lesson or lead a Confirmation class, but to see how God’s living Word is speaking to you?
We, who walk with those in the first third of life, have the awesome privilege of witnessing God’s Word alive and at work in the lives of children and youth. Kenda Creasy Dean and Ron Foster remind us in The Godbearing Life, that “When our curriculum for young people focuses on the practices of faith, these practices shape their souls so they can bear Christ into the world. But soul shaping takes a life time- not an adolescence- to complete. It is essential that the community of faith, and not adolescence alone, participate in the practices that compose the Godbearing life. (109). It is important for us to continue to tend to our own faith practices so that we may continue to minister to others. We cannot and should not do it on our own. We need God’s Word breathed into us.
I’m a work in progress, but am committing before you all, to create time during my week to sit in God’s Word. The past few days I’ve been praying for all those on the East coast who are dealing with the aftermath of Sandy. I pray that you find comfort in the All Saints text from Psalm 24, “The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it, the world, and those who live it.”
I’d love to hear your story! What is your practice of reading the Bible?
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Julie Hagen works with Lower Elementary children and families at Lord of Life Lutheran Church in Maple Grove. She is a pracitioner on the ground who is a First Third Voice for 2012-2013.