A while back I attended a workshop at this conference.
The speaker opened up with, “Please take out your Bible and turn to [book of the Bible].” Then he said, “And if you’re a United Methodist, please find someone near you to share their Bible with you.”
I was a bit annoyed that he called us out like that.
But I was more annoyed because I didn’t have my Bible with me. And I had to ask my neighbor if I could look at their Bible, who gave me a knowingly smile saying, “Ah. You’re one of them.” I’m sure that was just in my head, though.
This was way before smartphones and the Bible app.
But that doesn’t even come close to the most embarrassing time that I forgot my Bible.
I was doing a burial service and I just brought the United Methodist Book of Worship because it had all the prayers and scriptures that related to a burial service.
I read the final prayer before the burial and as we were about to get up and place dirt on her coffin, someone says, “Pastor, could you read to us Psalm 23 before we bury her? It was one of her favorite passages, and ours as well.”
I felt the sting of panic course through me with millions of thoughts racing through my brain.
“Oh crap. I don’t have my Bible. Do I have it memorized? Should I attempt to recite it from memory?”
I knew I was going to screw it up if I try to recite it from memory, and so I confessed.
“I hope you don’t mind me pulling out my phone, because… I don’t have my Bible on me but I do have the Bible app on my phone.”
Someone blurted out, “You forgot your Bible?”
“Uh… yes. Yes I did.”
He started laughing, “This is the funniest thing ever! You forgot your Bible! A pastor who doesn’t have his bible!”
We all started laughing, which I was grateful for because it helped the situation feel less awkward.
I pulled out my phone, found Psalm 23 and read it.
As we were saying our goodbyes, the laughing man came up to me and said, “I tell you what. That was one of the most endearing things I’ve seen. I can’t believe you forgot your Bible! I don’t know why that’s so funny to me, but it is. Thanks for letting me laugh today. Emily would’ve appreciated it.”
The next day at the memorial service, the man comes up to the front where I am, hands me a pew Bible and winks, “Just in case you forgot yours today.”
He had a real good laugh about that — it wasn’t malicious. He was genuinely tickled by me not having my bible on me.
But, lesson learned. Every church function I go to, I now have a bible near me. Just in case…