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Thursday, January 25, 2007

Something struck me at 4 in the morning; had to share it. Warning to readers: May strike some as stating the obvious, trolling for positive feedback. (Like all your posts?--ed. Shut up!) Anyway, some preachers interrupt themselves while reading Scripture, not able to simply read the words without explaining something, and all this before the sermon even starts. This is not good. Pardon me while I digress, in hopes of hammering home something important. It has been a long tradition in the church for the more formal types of services to have an Old Testament reading, a New Testament reading, and a reading from one of the Gospels in the New Testament. Now, having participated in numerous services like this, a couple observations: first, in due time, an ordinary Christian will begin to have hightened spiritual awareness around these occasions. I don't mean strange happenings, neccessarily, just a feeling that says, "This is extremely important." I've been in more low-church settings where nobody made a big deal about a Scripture reading. Ironically, these settings are also where the loudest fuss is made about following Scripture, etc. In any case, I may have discovered the secret to the "magic" of the public reading of Scripture. God is speaking to his own covenant people, and they are assembled as such. Thus, each one hears what needs to be heard, but more significantly, it is the rule of faith for the assembled people as a collective! When you make a liturgical emphasis of public reading of Scripture, you're inviting God to knit your hearts together, and you make a commitment to each other to listen together.
It's important for a pastor, in light of this, not to interrupt himself. What is the beginning of a sermon, if not another public reading of Scripture? This is God's Word, not mine. One could only hope and pray that one's intensive and expensive seminary training could clarify some parts for the audience. That is a sermon's purpose. But I can imagine John Q. Pewsitter piping up to say, "I did not come to hear you talk, preacher-boy." Many years ago, I heard a well-decorated pastor-teacher say something about getting out of God's way to let Him preach, but I did not understand. Oh, OK. Just one part of the body, not the CEO.