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Rated: ASR · Non-fiction · Personal · #2266722
How we dispose of scripture
We are burning books. Is this sacrilegious? I dearly hope not, because these books are scripture.

My father-in-law passed away in 2020, and my husband is the executor of his will. Two points of note about my father-in-law:

1.) Dad was a pack rat. He kept odd things, like whale oil from the first half of the twentieth century. He owned now-obsolete devices that were splendid in their day. He collected and kept items from everywhere and every when.

2.) Dad had multiple long-standing hobbies. Photography was one and ham radio another. His other interests included steam engines, computers, trains, audio and video equipment, and woodworking.

The result is a lot of possessions to process. My husband spend a year coping with the task, and has gotten through the bulk of them. Now he is sorting through the smaller items.

Several months ago, husband brought home Dad’s bibles and assorted other books—missals, prayer books, and the family worship book. The Bibles, published in the twentieth century, are in good shape, but the other books date as far back as 1847. They contain scripture, lessons, and prayers.They were passed on through the generations, and wound up with us. My husband suspects Dad didn’t know what to do with them.

These books are tattered, with ripped pages and rotted ribbons. They are worn and the covers loose or missing. We have no place for these relics, and we had to dispose of them. I researched the question, but there is no consensus of how to dispose of Christian holy books, including bibles. There are methods for disposing of the Koran and the Torah, but the only instruction is to be reverent when we undertake the task.

We rejected tossing them away or recycling them. These books contain the teachings of our faith and the Word of God; it is disrespectful, whether we want them or not. Burying was an option, but we chose burning.

We prayed, giving reverence to the moment and to God, then fed the thick worship book to the flames. As it slowly blackened and became ash, I had peace. King David wrote in Psalm 141, verse two, “Let my prayer be counted as incense before you, and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice!”

When an item burns, it is consumed and becomes ash. Recovery is impossible. Fire destroys, but also cleanses and purifies. Forest fires spur new growth in the burned areas and revitalize the forest. Fire is fierce and dangerous, but cannot destroy faith, even as the pages and bindings burn away.

The bound books containing God’s words and teaching are gone and unmourned. We gave our prayer to God, and a fragrant incense rose to the heavens. Faith is what matters, not methods or trappings. When I am bound by circumstances, or crippled by expectations, I must cling to faith. Time and entropy destroy all things, and human creations age and decay. Things I think of as ethereal are genuine. Faith and hope, peace and joy, love and mercy matter above all else.

I have to surrender control and trust He is my security. He whispers to me “Grab hold, take heart, and do not fear.” I meet my Lord in the fire, and rest in his arms.
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