I grew up in a tradition in which nearly everyone carried a Bible to church. Sermons were expository, usually providing close readings of texts, and Sunday school classes for adults and children were Bible studies. A friend of mine who grew up in a similar tradition once noted that we didn’t defend or explain why we studied the Bible, we just assumed that that’s what we were supposed to do as Christians.

The church I now attend is part of the same tradition, but some things have changed. Very few people carry a Bible to church. Sermons, while based on lectionary texts, are rarely close readings of the texts. Very few of the adult education classes concentrate on the Bible. Most Sunday school classes are on topical matters of the Christian life.

Nevertheless, my wife and I continued for years to carry our personal Bibles to church. Call us diehards, if you wish. I think we were making a symbolic statement: we belong to a community of faith that is tied to a sacred text. Besides, we liked to follow along with scripture readings using Bibles that we were familiar with.