Our adult Sunday School class is using the Animate Curriculum on the Bible right now. This past week, we were talking about our Bibles. For some of us, the sacredness of the text keeps us from marking the pages with notes.
For me, I have many copies of the Bible. But the one I call “my Bible” is well worn. I lugged it to each class in seminary. I’ve written sermon notes in the margin. It has been my companion for 15 or more years. It is a New Oxford Annotated Bible with Apocrypha, NRSV.
I also have my grandfather’s Bible, that he used to take with him as he visited prisoners in the jail back in the 1940s. I can feel where his hand held the Bible as I hold it. My grandfather died when my mom was young, so I don’t have many connections to him. This is one connection.
But after that discussion, I’ve been thinking about Judy.
Judy was a long time member of the church. She was on hospice, and had been for a while. She was ready to go “home”. I was visiting with her, and she’d already told me she wanted John 14 read at her service. “But don’t read that NRSV nonsense,” she told me. “I want King James.”
“Okay,” I said. “Why? What is it about the difference in translations for you?”
“NRSV wants to put me in a ‘dwelling place’ and King James talks about ‘mansions’. I want my mansion!”
We laughed about it and I promised her I would read the King James at her service. I also shared with her another passage from 2 Corinthians 4-5, when Paul talks about our earthly life being ‘tents’ but our heavenly life being the solid dwelling. “For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” (2 Cor 5:1)
She turned to her daughter and said, “get my Bible and write that down. Highlight those verses. I want to remember them.”
Judy died a few days later.
As I watched her daughter take notes in her mother’s Bible, I thought, “that’s how I want to live. I still want to be taking notes in the margin when I’m on hospice care”.
How do you read your Bible? Is it marked up? Or do you take your notes elsewhere, leaving the pages clear and clean?