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January 12, 2013

February 3rd – Bring Your Bibles to Church Sunday

by Rev. A. J. Iovine

Is it OK in a Lutheran Church to bring your bible to worship?

It sounds kind of weird to write that kind of sentence, but honestly, if you’re a lifelong LCMS member or even a converted Roman Catholic or Protestant, when is the last time you brought your bible to church? Thinking back to my time as a member of a couple LCMS churches in New York, I never brought a bible to church. Why?

We didn’t need it.

Our worship services were outlined or printed out in their entirety. Therefore the day’s Scripture readings were already printed out for us. Growing up, we used the same pre-printed bulletin covers that we use now in church. The Scripture is on the back cover. And when I was at Holy Trinity in Yonkers prior to my seminary excursion – we printed out the readings each week. Why would I then carry a bible into church?

At post-church bible classes, both St John’s and Holy Trinity provided bibles for us to use. If I needed to look up a Scripture verse, I could borrow a bible from the church library. Plus, the pastor was usually around; I kind of thought he had some understanding of God’s Word. Therefore, my rationale was simple – I had no need to carry my heavy, Concordia Study Bible to church with me on Sunday morning.

And do you know what happened? I rarely opened my bible during the week. I believed that on Sunday morning, I would get enough “Jesus” in church that I didn’t have to spend time flipping through a bible on a Tuesday morning. In fact, when I would read Portals of Prayer, I don’t think I ever read the suggested Scripture verse that accompanied each devotion. My biblical understanding of God’s Word became lax; I became reliant on what I remembered in Sunday School and listened from my pastor on Sunday mornings.

I am sure my example is not too uncommon.

Over the course of the past several months, I’ve been praying about all of you that your knowledge of Jesus our Lord would increase; that your faith would be strengthened by the Holy Spirit through His Word; and that this increase would not just be for those who are in church every Sunday, but especially for those who do not attend church regularly.

Then it hit me: How can I, as pastor, help you build up this habit of using God’s Word everyday? What types of encouragements can I give to help lead you to a better understanding of God, His Son, and the Holy Spirit?

Why not encourage everyone to bring their bibles to church?

We can have a sort of “Blessing of the Bibles” Sunday. People can bring their bibles to church; we can use them during our readings and sermon; and we can have a mass blessing to remind us of exactly why God’s Word is important in our lives.

And so we will.

Sunday, February 3 is not just Fellowship Sunday at Saint Matthew’s — it is “Bring Your Bibles to Church Sunday.” We’re going to take a good and consistent step to seep our lives in the Word. Mark your calendars. Sunday, February 3.

And do you want to know why you’ll remember February 3rd? It’s Souper Bowl for Caring Sunday where we raise money to help our Samaritans ministry at Saint Matthew’s. Oh, and I think there is some football game on at 6:30pm that day, as well.

Mark your calendars today. February 3. Bring Your Bibles to Church Sunday.

Oh, and for those who attend Saturday night, don’t think you’re off the hook. The night before, February 2, it is “Bring Your Bibles to Church Saturday.”

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