Old First’s Bible: Old First E-pistle 10.08.21

Old First’s Bible: Old First E-pistle 10.08.21

Old First has always affirmed the centrality of the Bible to our faith. The Bible brings the Word of God to us, leading us to faith and faithful lives.  The centrality of the Bible has long been recognized in the structure of Old First itself . An open Bible appears as the focal point on the reredos directly behind the altar and pulpit.

As Bob Schneider informed us in his recent sermon, we do not know all of the details of when and why the open Bible first appeared in its present prominent position.  It may have been added to make a statement during controversies with groups within the Reformed church or with outside groups regarding the importance of the Bible.  The placement left no doubt where Old First stood. There is nothing else around it.  The Bible alone, sola scriptura.  

Old First is now in the midst of a significant renovation of our sanctuary and the question arises of should the open Bible remain in its present place or should it be replaced by some other symbol or decoration.  Or should we leave that area empty? 

One suggestion we on SEAC have been leaning toward is to remove the painted Bible from its space within the reredos and replace it with an actual open Bible that would be placed on the communion table at the front of the sanctuary.  This placement would recognize the central role of the Bible in our life of faith, but it would change the symbolism significantly.  The open Bible in its present position is a little bit like an idol, an object of contemplation, but distant and disconnected from our lives. The open Bible on the wall invites veneration, but also symbolizes isolation and distance from the people. A voice from afar.  

Moving the Bible to the communion table would bring the Bible closer to the people, symbolizing that the Bible is truly alive and life-giving when it lives in the midst of the people.  Given the new configuration of the chancel area, it would be possible for the person reading the scripture each Sunday to come up out of the congregation, find the passage in the open Bible, give the wonderful introductions that now engage the congregation, and read the scripture for the day from near the congregation.  The sermon would follow, the exposition of the scripture.  

The movement would be obvious, bringing the Bible to us not from a distance but from directly in our midst.  The Word of God would truly be with the people. Our affirmation of the centrality of the Bible to our lives would be enhanced, because the Bible would actually be alive among us, not high above us, but here with us, where we can touch it and be touched by it.

This is one suggestion and some of the reasons supporting it.  But other ideas are welcome as we as a congregation consider how best to design our space to foster the worship of God.  

The Sanctuary Enhancement and Accessibility Committee will be organizing {a process} for the congregation to consider this space within the reredos. (Details and times.)