Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.
Whenever we gather as a community of faith at the baptismal font for a child’s baptism we make a vow to stand with the family and child and to play an active role in the formation of their faith. At each baptism we are asked, “Do you, as members of the church of Jesus Christ, promise to guide and nurture this child, by word and deed, with love and prayer, encouraging them to know and follow Christ and to be faithful members of his church?” One of the ways this congregation lives into this vow is to provide each third grade student their own Bible. By third grade children are beginning to read independently and as their family of faith we want to encourage them to develop a love for reading God’s Word and to begin doing so as a spiritual practice.
Across the morning this coming Sunday we will be distributing Bibles to our third grade students and it’s not only a wonderful time to encourage families to read God’s Word together at home, but it also serves as a reminder and hopefully encouragement for each of us to read our Bible as a regular spiritual discipline. As we age what is developmentally appropriate in terms of Bible selection changes. In worship, this congregation has the NRSV Bible in the pews and that is the Bible translation we most often read from on Sunday mornings. The NRSV is not the only translation out there and pastors will often look at a variety of translations as they prepare sermons, but the NRSV has been selected and commended for its thorough, accurate, and scholarly translation. This is the translation we present to our third graders so they may become familiar with the Bible used in worship and so they will have a Bible for reading and study for many years to come.
For home devotional reading as families our goal and aim in reading the Bible is to teach our children the stories of faith and to instill a love for God’s story. Taking this into consideration a strict translation may not always be our go-to tool. Rather different stages of life may have us looking for more accessible ways to share the Word with our children. For parents of very young children (Pre-schoolers and early school age children) you may want to consider Ella Lindvall’s “Read-Aloud Bible Stories” series. Select, stories are retold in an age-appropriate manner with beautiful and captivating illustrations. For a story Bible, Ralph Milton’s “The Family Story Bible” covers the overarching narrative of the biblical story (creation, prophets, psalms, stories of Jesus, and letters to the early church) with some illustrations. Another good resource is “The Pilgrim Book of Bible Stories” which helps bring the Bible to life for young readers ages 9-12. It is divided into 19 chapters, each with an introduction revealing the thread of the story and linking history to interpretation.
No matter our age or familiarity with the Bible, the Bible is God’s story for us. It is a story of God’s love for God’s people.
By Rev. Nicole Abdnour