Back in my Baptist days, I brought my little leatherbound ESV to church with me every Sunday, except for the days I brought my giant leatherbound ESV Study Bible.
It was part of the Baptist liturgy, so to speak: “Take your Bibles, and turn the book of John, chapter three, verse sixteen.”
We took our Bibles and turned to the book, chapter, and verse for everything: the call to worship, the reading of the full sermon passage, and every single other verse mentioned in said sermon — unless the pastor released us with the special words, “You don’t need to turn there.”
I used to follow along, adding mine to the hundreds of rustling pages. I don’t remember when I stopped, but I found I could get a different experience of Scripture by merely listening to the passage read aloud. I didn’t get lost among footnotes, for instance. But mainly, I didn’t skip down to the closest controversial passage and study the commentary’s interpretation instead of paying attention.
The habit started in college, when Sunday was my only day to sleep in, and I found myself throwing on clothes and running out the door three minutes before church started. And of course, my dorm room was always a mess, and I never could find my little ESV Bible in time. (If you actually read your Bible daily, I would shame myself, you wouldn’t keep showing up empty-handed!)
In Orthodox churches, nobody brings their Bibles except to Bible study. We stand to listen to the daily gospel and epistle, and we sing psalms and verses throughout the liturgy, but we don’t bother with turning to the chapter or verse. (In fact, the Orthodox don’t even announce the chapter and verse — just the book.)
It didn’t occur to me how different that experience is from my Baptist upbringing, until, during a Protestant sermon, I had a guy shove an iPad Bible at my empty hands. I’d forgotten this part of Baptist liturgy.
And sure enough, I scrolled to the closest controversial passage.
Do you bring your Bible to church? Do you use it during the service? I’m curious to hear!