Does the book matter?

January 20th, 2021

Our world is pretty topsy-turvy right now, and we may find some comfort in the events and/or people we can count on that come around when we expect them. However, many of those constants have been affected by the pandemic, such as the 2020 Olympics being canceled; and some look different, like sporting events with no fans in the stands. One constant that comes around every four years is the inauguration of the President of the United States. Even if a sitting president is reelected, there is another inauguration. FDR had four inaugurations!

Why an oath?

Part of most inauguration ceremonies involve taking an oath of office. Local officials do this, as well as presidents. Often this oath is taken with the oath-taker’s left hand placed on a book, predominantly the Bible. This began with oaths taken in legal settings as far back as ninth-century England. If there was no government representative to witness a transaction, it took place at some type of altar and with the person’s hand resting on a Gospel book of the Bible.

Over 300 years later, courts began to adopt the same practice, asking jury members, witnesses and others associated with trials to take an oath on the Bible. We are familiar with this in today’s court system from years of watching courtroom dramas on television.

This tradition of oath-taking transferred to public officials as well, which explains why the Bible is so often used. Still, those taking an oath of office at any level can use any book they choose during the ceremony. Some have used the constitution, some a law book, some the Quran and some have used no book at all.

The importance of Scripture

Many presidents at their inauguration have their Bibles open to a particular verse, one that perhaps has guided, inspired or intrigued them. How often do we place Scripture at central points in our lives? Do we have a special Scripture that guides us? How is Scripture used in our daily lives, both public and private?

Question of the day: Do you have a life verse or a Scripture that you depend on for guidance?
Focal scriptures: Deuteronomy 6:1-9; Psalm 119:97-105; Matthew 4:1-11

For a complete lesson on this topic visit LinC.

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