People leave all sorts of things behind when they die. Their clothes or books or whatever can be given to a thrift store or divided among heirs and other family members. The assets are distributed as per the will, if there is one. But what is to be done with old, beat-up Bibles that are falling apart?

When I became executor of my mother’s estate, I ended up with a number of such scriptures showing promiently the ravages of age, with their bindings coming loose and their pages torn and yellowed. They belonged to my grandmother, my uncle, my sister, and my mom. My Uncle Jimmy’s Air Force Bible was in particularly bad condition; it had a cheap cardboard binding to start with and had been in storage since 1957.

In all my years of ministry, I had never had to dispose of torn and tired Bibles. Usually, the books were in good enough shape to give to a church library. Not the case here. So what to do?

I consulted our district council’s historian and worship expert and also went online. There were two options: burning and burying. I chose the latter, using the cobbled together liturgy below. It felt right and, as the administration of the estate proceeds with no certain date for my discharge in view, it was nice to get some closure not only on one little aspect of my mother’s life, but on that of other family members as well.

I hope if you face a similar situation, the service below will help you in your disposal of your family’s sacred volumes.

Brief Service for Burial of Bibles

Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth. His word is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path.

Blessed Lord, who caused all holy scriptures to be written for our learning: Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

Scripture Reading (from a Bible to be disposed of)
Psalm 119:89-96 or
Psalm 119:105-112 or
2 Timothy 3:10- 17 or
Hebrews 4:12-13 or
James 1:19-27 or
Matthew 4:1-11

Thanksgiving and Remembrance
Holy God, we do not live by bread alone. Your word in the Holy Scriptures nourishes our spirits and guides us in loving you and our neighbor. We thank you for these Bibles and for the inspiration and strength you gave to (names of family members who owned the Bibles) in their use. With thanksgiving, we give back to you these sacred pages as we place them in the ground. Amen.

Disposal (Bibles are wrapped in a clean white cloth and placed in the hole, dug prior to the service.) A time of silence and reflection may be observed.

Dismissal with Blessing

© 2013 Tom Cheatham. All rights reserved.