My mother recently found my first Bible packed away in her attic, a hardback, blue NRSV edition with my name, Heather Beard, engraved on the front cover. Inside the Bible, tucked safely away, we also discovered my first footprints, hospital card and baby bracelet. Weighing in at 7 lbs. 12 oz. and measuring 21 inches, I was an average-sized baby.
Many of you know that I didn’t grow up with parents who went to church. Living next door to my grandmother, she felt it important for me to attend her Lutheran church in order to go through confirmation, so I did. Upon being able to recite the Apostles’ Creed and Lord’s Prayer, I was presented with my first Bible by our pastor.
Twenty-five years later I sat in my mother’s kitchen and flipped open the cover. I noticed I only made it through Genesis 12 and apparently deemed the story of Noah to be of high importance, as I literally highlighted every single word. I was either really fascinated with the pre-history history or I was left on my own to make sense of how to develop spiritually and I gave up.
Today we are presenting our first graders with their first Bibles. This has been a longstanding Wilshire tradition, but today is our first time to do it as part of our worship service. It’s one of those faith markers, a sacred ritual that ushers our children deeper into the faith. Dr. and Mrs. Jernberg have loved Wilshire’s first graders for over 40 years, and many of us parents have them to thank for planting the early seeds of faith.
As our children continue to grow, many of you will continue to water and till those seeds so that one day our children will say yes to living a life of faithfulness. And unlike me, I know they will not be left alone to try and figure it out, and perhaps they will actually make it past Genesis 12, both literally and figuratively. I love being able to celebrate these sacred traditions as a community and look forward to the ways our kids will say yes to God. Oh, by the way, we could always use a few more loving adults to volunteer on the second floor.
As you prepare for worship this morning, who do you have to thank for your own spiritual development? Do you remember receiving your first Bible? Reflect on those early seeds planted, and may we collectively say together, “Thanks be to God.”