I’ve spent quite a bit of time with the third graders these past few weeks. I’ve been preparing for Third Grade Bible Sunday, Bible Camp at Glen Lake, and Bible Adventure Fun Night with much excitement. My excitement does not even compare to the excitement that the third graders have experienced these past few weeks. The third graders were completely giddy about receiving their Bibles earlier this month. Most of them had been looking forward to it for years (one child said she had been eagerly waiting since Kindergarten when her older sibling got one). I watched them sit down in worship after receiving their Bibles and proudly look at the first page with their name beautifully written in calligraphy. I watched them thumb through the pages that first day looking for stories that they recognized and discovering new stories they hadn’t heard yet. I watched them proudly carry their Bibles around at Glen Lake Bible Camp this past weekend and I’m just bursting with excitement for them as they will bring their Bibles to church this Friday night to learn more about HOW to use their Bibles.
There are several discipleship milestones that children experience and this is probably one of my favorites. We know that a child’s discipleship journey begins when they are born and I love that the congregation, staff, and clergy at FUMC Hurst does everything possible to support children of every age as they deepen their discipleship. The discipleship milestones of Baptism, Kindergarten Worship Unit, Third Grade Bibles, and Confirmation are just that . . . milestones. They are not the entire journey for children, only part of it. I love seeing these milestones through the eyes of the children. I love seeing these milestones through the eyes of their parents. I especially love seeing all the “in between” moments through their eyes as well. I love walking into Sunday school a few weeks after the third graders have received their Bibles and have attended Bible Camp and Bible Night and hearing their squeals of excitement because they were finally the FIRST one in the class to be able to find the Bible verse that time, or their excitement that they now know how to look up the word in the concordance or Bible dictionary.
I wonder what it would be like if adults could look at our Bibles with the same level of excitement as these third graders are looking at theirs right now? I wonder what additional things we can do to keep that excitement alive for these children in years to come or to reignite that kind of excitement in adults about their Bible? What I DO know is that the excitement is contagious! I know my Bible is heavy and it is one more thing to put in my bag and carry around on Sunday morning with me. I also know that there is feeling of warmth that comes over me when I read the scripture out of MY Bible (instead of the Bible in the pew pocket in front of me). I don’t know why, but reading it out of MY Bible somehow makes it more personal. The added benefit of bringing my Bible with me is that it sets a great example to the children sitting near me to bring their Bibles to church with them too. I wonder if we ALL started bringing OUR Bible to church with us, would it help reignite our excitement even more? Maybe it’s because MY name is in my Bible? I’m actually not sure what it is, but I feel like that has something to do with it. If you think that spending a few Sundays with excited third graders will ignite your excitement, then let me know and I can help make that happen. If you think having your name in your Bible would ignite your excitement, then I know the name of an incredible Calligrapher! Either way, I hope that you might go forth and find a way to reignite your excitement for your Bible as the third graders have done for me!