For many years St Andrew’s Cathedral provided pew Bibles for the congregation. This clearly expresses our commitment to the central activity of gathering to hear God speak to us. It also has the practical value of enabling all members of the congregation, especially the newcomers and visitors, to follow the Bible reading and preaching for themselves. With a set of uniform pew Bibles, it is easier for newcomers to find the appropriate page as all the Bibles have the same page numbers.
However, pew Bibles have their disadvantages as well. The provision of the Bible in the pew discourages us from bringing our own Bible to church. We cannot underline and make notes in the pew Bibles. It harder to find a text we heard in church in our own Bible at home unless the edition we have at home is the same as the one in the pew. Finally, there is the cost of pew Bibles. These were frequently stolen from the Cathedral and added to the annual budget.
Since the restoration of the Cathedral the pew Bibles have not been replaced. We have printed the relevant readings of the day on the service sheets or the sermon outlines. We have not recovered the habit of bringing our own Bible to church.
Two people have approached us with generous offers to purchase pew Bibles. The Bible society has now brought out a very suitable and handsome edition of the English Standard Version for $15 (this month only special price). This has raised again the issue of furnishing the Cathedral with a complete set of pew Bibles. So far, we have about half of the money we would require. This is enough for us to make our initial purchase of Bibles, but it would be good to equip the whole Cathedral so as to start with a standard edition.
There are three ways forward. If one or two people would like to donate money to purchase the rest of the Bibles, they could contact Kay Terrey at the office. Alternatively, people could buy a copy from the Cathedral office and either leave it in the Cathedral as a donation or keep it and bring it with them each week as their own bible.
The Bible has a unique and central place in church life. The church is the gathering of Gods people. We are gathered by the gospel being preached to us and we meet together to hear God speak to us in His Word the Bible.
His Word is not like any other word. It “is living and active, sharper than any two edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).
Hearing the Word of God is central to Anglican church going. As Article 19 of the thirty-nine articles says:
“The visible Church of Christ is a congregation of faithful men, in the which the pure Word of God is preached, and the Sacraments be duly ministered …”
And the Book of Common Prayer describes going to church as:
“…we assemble and meet together to render thanks for the great benefits that we have received at his hands, to set forth his most worthy praise, to hear his most holy Word, and to ask those things which are requisite and necessary, as well for the body as the soul”
It is therefore important that we follow the Bible and its teaching in church. Any aid or resource that helps people listen to God’s word is to be encouraged. Bringing our own Bible to church or having them provided in the pew will help us listen carefully to what our Saviour has to say to us.