A girl and a Bible
By Ken Rummer
“Did you write this?”
I glanced at the page. Squarish letters in black ink with variable width strokes. Just the kind I used to make with a chisel-end pen. Just the kind I inscribed on numerous baptismal certificates and wedding records over the years. Definitely my work.
This inscription was in a Bible, and the Bible belonged to the director of Christian Education at the church we are attending in retirement. Holding it up during the service, she showed it to the children who were about to receive Bibles of their own. She told them it had been given to her when she was nine years old. She had carried it with her on her journey of life so far, and she expected she always would.
After reading a verse about the inspiration and usefulness of scripture (2 Timothy 3:16), she called the children up to receive their Bibles. They came, one by one, and they returned to the front pew clutching their treasures. Then she prayed them back to their families.
During the years of my pastoring, the congregations I served also presented children with Bibles. What ever became of those Bibles? We seldom heard.
But here was one of those Bibles from over 20 years ago, in the hand of the girl who had received it, a girl all grown up now with children of her own, heading up Christian education for a whole congregation, and now handing out Bibles herself to a new crop of kids.
One of the blessings I am finding in retirement is the chance to see, here and there, fruit from the work of ministry which I pursued for 40 years. Something someone still remembers from a sermon I have forgotten. People still using gifts I tried to nurture. My former congregation moving into a new chapter with a new installed pastor.
I’m getting a few glimpses of the positive effects of my pastoring—not enough to get a big head, but maybe enough to keep the doubts at bay. Did it matter that I was there? Did we accomplish anything of lasting value?
Well, there was a little girl who received a Bible from our church. She took that Bible with her on her life journey, and today, all grown up, she presented Bibles in another congregation to another group of children.
She won’t know all the influence those Bibles will have. She won’t see how the future will unfold for all those children. But maybe one day, 20 years from now, one of those children will hold up one of those Bibles, and speak of the journey they have made together. And perhaps that child, now grown, will be passing out Bibles to another pew full of children. I suspect it will be an occasion for a smile and a tear. I know it was for me.
Ken Rummer, retired PCUSA pastor, writes about life and faith from the middle of Iowa by the High Trestle Trail. Previous posts may be found at http://presbyterian mission.org/today/author/krummer