Sunday, January 30, 2022

Down the rabbit hole with grandma's Bible

I wanted to check a different translation today for the sermon, so I tried to find my old KJV from 1946, which I received for Christmas that year as a first grader in Forreston, IL. Instead, I pulled out my grandmother's Bible, dated 1901, which was the year of her marriage. Big mistake to read the preface on how this Bible came to be (too long to explain but there was definitely a big battle between the British committee and the American committee in 1885). Then I opened it to the passage I was looking for in John and found a 4-leaf clover pressed at the beginning of the New Testament (another preface with additional information I stopped to read), a purple ribbon to mark the place (which practically crumbled when I tried to straighten it. Then I found an old newspaper clipping from 1934, probably the Gospel Messenger of the Church of the Brethren (I only know this because one of my articles published when I was working was about my grandparents' library and all the journals/magazines they had, and I learned how to read the clues.)

The clipping was a poem "Teach me to live" which begins "Teach me to live! 'tis easier far to die--/Gently and silently to pass away--" and ends with "Teach me to live, and find my life in Thee/ Looking from earth and earthly things away:" On the verso in perfect alignment was the death notices from November 1932 to January 1934 of Brethren probably sent by their home church, and a list of offerings from North Dakota (there may have been all states, but that's what fit on the clipping).

There was no author for the poem, so I went to the internet, and found it, in several versions, often used with funeral notices. I found one reference from 1865, but it still didn't give the author, although I stopped to read the article (a Bible study). Then I found a sad story about a young Jamaican man who died in 1916, with separate notices by both his wife and his parents. The wife continued to post this memorial poem for another 10 years after his death. The editor, who was apparently researching the archives, speculated that the wife and the parents didn't get along and so published separate notices and thank yous to friends of the family and deceased.

I checked "Find a Grave" for a few of the names on the list, but even those names I found which matched the state, didn't have the right year. Oh, and the Jamaican newspaper had a Facebook page, and I noticed FB reminded me it is my niece Jenny's birthday, so I had to look through her page.

This is why it takes so long to do a short Bible study about Nicodemus.

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