Today I'd like to share that platform with Jenna King, a coworker and friend at Harding Academy. Like me, Jenna spends time in classrooms teaching Middle and High School students the story God is weaving in this world. At our school we also have something called The Bible Ceremony. Coming from public school I was skeptical of this ceremony when I first came. However, after experiencing it I believe its purpose is beautiful and rests within a stream of centuries of men and women passing down an ancient, true, holy, and transformative story--sometimes at great personal cost.
Jenna spoke at the ceremony this year. At the end of her speech I found myself thinking "I would like a lot of people to hear these words." I asked Jenna if I could share her words. She kindly said yes. Read Jenna's words below.
I have had three grandmothers for my entire life- my mom’s mother and my dad’s mother, who have both passed away, and my dad’s stepmother who is still living. My grandmothers each played a huge role in making me who I am today. What I love about having had three grandmas is that each of them are as different as can be, yet they all have two things in common- They all love Jesus and they are all passionate bakers. Growing up, we would drive to Abilene and visit Gram, Nancy, and Grandma- and all three of those visits involved a lot of messy kitchens and a lot of calories.
Flour, sugar, and copious amounts of chocolate have run through my veins since the day I was born. Although for the first twenty something years of my life I leaned much more heavily on the eating side of things than on the baking side.
My deep dive into the world of baking began just after my dad’s mother passed away in 2012. She and I were incredibly close, and in a season of powerful grief, there was something comforting about stepping into the world that she loved. So I began baking as a sort of grief counseling, but the more I did it, the more I fell in love with it. And now, given a day off with no responsibilities and no baby to chase (as rare as those days are), I would most likely choose to spend that day elbow-deep in dough, making a pie for someone I love.
As I started baking more and more, I called on my mom and my aunts and my last surviving grandmother to do some digging and to find recipes… and not just recipes, but handwritten, authentic, stained and tattered recipe cards.
Within a few weeks, I had a stack of sweet sweet treasures in my hands.
Now, I can trace the curve of Gram’s sloppy cursive, I can scratch off the crusted butter and flour from my Grandma’s chocolate chip pie. In a very small way, I can experience a piece of my grandmothers.
After several years and way too many pies, I’ve added my own greasy smudges, my own melted chocolate smears, my own tears and bent corners.
The reality is, my mom and my aunts could have emailed me a few recipes. I could have called Nancy so that she could read off her less than precise measurements, but I know now, that I would’ve been missing something.
I hope my grandmothers’ recipes will collect the grime of many decades of baking. I hope that my daughter will add her own spills and smudges. Because these recipe cards will bear witness to many lifetimes of memories in the kitchen, many days when we all just needed a slice of fudge pie, many recipes that celebrated family joys and offered a shred of comfort at a funeral.
Today, my dear 7th graders, you are receiving the sweet words of your Father… Bibles that carry his love, his passions, his character. Scripture isn’t a history book or a compilation of nice sayings, it is the real, true, word of God. Paul tells us in 2 Timothy that all scripture is God-breathed. All scripture is inspired by the creator of all things. It comes from THE source who knows the inner workings of you and the rest of the world in a way we cannot comprehend… Psalm 139 says that he has searched us and knows us- he knows every movement, every thought- and the reality of our known-ness is TOO wonderful and TOO lofty for us to attain. All of scripture illuminates the will of our Father and calls us to a fuller life lived in Him. As Mr. Knight said on Monday, scripture is our roadmap and our unfailing GPS that is capable of showing us the way when the roads are dark and twisted and confusing. All of scripture points to the heart of God and paints a picture of a powerful God who is also gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love.
We live in this incredible world where the Bible is always on the phone in your pocket or on the iPad in your backpack. You are quite literally never without the Word of God. And that is a blessing! But it can be easy to become so accustomed to that fact that we forget that maybe technology isn’t always the answer. Maybe, there is something special about the leather bound, heavy, real deal.
As you carry this Bible with you through the years, these words will get underlined, passages will be highlighted, a few corners may get bent and torn, and all of those marks will tell the story of your journey with your Father. These pages will catch your tears when things just aren’t going right, will carry dust from the dirt roads of the country you’ll visit on a mission trip, will walk with you through six years of Bible classes here at Harding, will speak life and truth to you when it seems so hard to find life and truth in our world.
I hope and pray that the binding will break on these pristine Bibles, that the silver edges will wear off, that maybe even a few pages will become loose.
Psalm 1 says “Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked, or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord and who meditates on his law day and night.” So how do we keep ourselves from getting wrapped up in the wrong things? We meditate on the Bible day and night. We don’t “meditate on the law to cram before a Bible test” or “”meditate on the law only when things aren’t going well,” but blessed is the one who seeks the Lord day in and day out. When things are good and bad, when things are exciting or boring. As long as there is a sun in the day and moon in the night, you should be seeking scripture. Blessed is the one turns to the Father’s Word before you turn to your friends or even your parents for help. Blessed is the one who recognizes that scripture isn’t just something to reference, it is something in which you can delight and find joy.
Blessed is the one who allows the Word of God to build up a little grime from afternoons poring over this love letter from your father, from many days when all you need is a Word from God, from seeking scriptures to celebrate family joys or to offer a shred of comfort at a funeral.
My recipe cards will carry with them the legacy of my grandmothers and my family- not by hiding them in a scrapbook or tucking them away in a box, but by weaving them into my life and the lives of my children and grandchildren. Your Bible will carry with the legacy of God in your life, not by sticking it on a bookshelf or losing it in your locker, but by weaving the Word of God into every facet of your life. May you seek God’s Word first, before all else and before anyone else. May you seek God’s Word often, day in and day out. And may these pages one day show the story of a life that was deeply, passionately, completely rooted in the Word of God.