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The portal of the Museum of the Bible is flanked by 40-foot tall, 16-ton bronze reproductions of the type from the first edition of the Gutenberg Bible.
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Photo by Karen Plumlee

The Museum of the Bible: A ‘unifying experience’

An Oklahoma City preacher reflects on his church’s trip to the nation’s capital.

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WASHINGTON — “We have to come back here.”

I was delighted when my daughters — 13-year-old Anna and 11-year-old Heidi — declared this after their first visit to our nation’s capital. Having been to Washington a few times in my life, I had hoped they would “catch the bug” for learning and discovery.

But what really made this comment special was when they said it.

Related: Sunday worship in Jesus’ hometown

It wasn’t after ascending the steps to the Lincoln Memorial or taking a picture in front of the White House or seeing the Declaration of Independence or eating ice cream in the National Mall.

My girls made this pronouncement as we walked away from the Museum of the Bible, where we had spent eight hours over two days seeing some of the most remarkable Bible artifacts in the world.

Tedious translations through several centuries, from one language, through another, and another — Hebrew to Aramaic, Greek, and Latin — produced these incredible polyglot, or multilingual, Bibles in the 16th century that are now displayed at the Museum of the Bible.

Tedious translations through several centuries, from one language, through another, and another — Hebrew to Aramaic, Greek, and Latin — produced these incredible polyglot, or multilingual, Bibles in the 16th century that are now displayed at the Museum of the Bible.

Open since 2017, the Museum of the Bible displays nearly 4,000 ancient manuscripts, artifacts and antiquities related to the Bible. From one of the earliest fragments of John 8 to a stone from the temple that was destroyed in A.D. 70 to a replica of the Gutenberg printing press to a recreation of the village of Nazareth (complete with live actors!) — there is no end to six floors of historical wonder.

For Anna and Heidi, their favorite part was putting their hands on the temple stone while we talked about Jesus’ words from Luke 21:6: “Not one stone will be left on another.”

For me, the best part was actually the people with whom we shared the experience. Sixty members from my home congregation, the Memorial Road Church of Christ in Oklahoma City, made their way across the country for this special trip.

As a preacher, I am familiar with the unity that the Bible brings between generations. Each week, I am struck by the unique way that God’s word stirs the hearts of 8-year-olds and 80-year-olds and everyone in between. And yet, I have never witnessed this Bible-empowered generational unity as powerfully as I did on this trip.

Members of the Memorial Road Church of Christ pose in front of the Museum of the Bible.

Members of the Memorial Road Church of Christ pose in front of the Museum of the Bible.

During our debrief times, teenagers, retirees and middle-aged couples — who normally pass each other on Sunday like ships in the night — all sat around at tables and enthusiastically shared their museum highlights.

The Bible itself was pulling us together. It was a beauty to behold.

Perhaps the most unifying experience of all was what happened Friday morning.

Right when the museum doors opened, all 60 of us walked immediately to the third floor, into the village of Nazareth and into the replica of a first century synagogue — stone benches on three sides, a small table in the middle, a cupboard where the scrolls are kept.

Memorial Road preacher Phil Brookman reads from Isaiah 61, as Jesus did in Luke 4, in the replica of the synagogue at the Museum of the Bible.

Memorial Road preacher Phil Brookman reads from Isaiah 61, as Jesus did in Luke 4, in the replica of the synagogue at the Museum of the Bible.

We gathered. We prayed. We read Luke 4 together, where Jesus himself reads Isaiah in a synagogue.

And then we sang for half an hour to each other and to other tourists who were passing by.

One of our tour guides from the company Inspire, which specializes in faith-based tours, commented, “I’ve never heard singing like that before.”

PHIL BROOKMAN is the preaching minister for the Memorial Road Church of Christ in Oklahoma City. Contact him at [email protected].

Filed under: Bible history church unity Generation Z Memorial Road Church of Christ Museum of the Bible National Opinion Top Stories Views Washington

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