Sunday, 16 October 2016

Promise Boxes

In this morning's All Age worship we thought about promises and in particular the promises of God, which, unlike some of our promises are never broken. We thought about the faithfulness of God, shown to us in the life of Jesus, who showed us what God's faithful love looked like.
I introduced the congregation to the tradition of the Promise Box, which didn't seem to be something people had come across before. It seems to have originated in Victorian times, but was a very popular devotion, especially among evangelical Christians, through the 20th Century. It has rather dwindled now, but Promise Boxes, containing cards or scrolls, with Bible verses on them, can still be bought. I bought the ones I showed this morning (pictured ) here. - this one has cards with prayers on the back
and here... - this one has tiny scrolls, and comes with some tweezers to pull them out with. 

Like many Promise Boxes both of these use the traditional words of the Authorised Version, but if you find this a bit difficult to understand you can always look up the verses in a modern Bible instead. I have put them on the red table at the back of church if you'd like to take a look and are in our neck of the woods.

I also printed out some Biblical promises on sheets of card for people to take home and cut up themselves to make their own Promise Boxes. The printable sheets are here, if you'd like one.
There are only 36 promises here, while Promise Boxes usually have hundreds, but I tried to pick 36 very good ones!)
I passed around these promise cards during the service and invited people to take one home with them to ponder. Jenni Pascoe kindly sent me some feedback after the service, which she gave me permission to share.

"Thank you for the promises stuff. The best one for me was the first one... the levelling of the mountains [I will go before you and level the mountains…so that you may know that it is I the Lord, the God of Israel who call you by your name. Isaiah 45.2-3] , I hope I pick it out every day!!! Often I need someone to do that for me. Please share on the facebook page if you wish. I wonder what other folk think. Jenni."
I got a lovely verse from Revelation 21 "God will wipe every tear from their eyes."

Promise Boxes have their limitations. It certainly shouldn't be the ONLY way we read the Bible - our Biblical knowledge will be a bit thin if it is - and taking Bible verses out of context can distort their meaning, so this needs to be balanced with more in depth, informed, thoughtful reading of the Bible. But there are times when we just need to hear one thing, when one verse - or even one word - can make all the difference, and a Promise Box is a lovely, playful, personal way to hear God's voice.

What do you think ? Are Promise Boxes a familiar devotional aid for you? If you were there this morning, did you get a promise that hit home to you or made you think?

If this has really piqued your interest, there is an interesting blog post here
and a more in depth article here about how Promise Boxes have been used.

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