Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Reading the word

When I was growing up in the church, the Bible was seldom read in the worship service except by the preacher when introducing his sermon or the communion leader when he was admonishing all to be "worthy" to partake.

Thankfully, that is changing. It is a pet peeve of mine to hear the word of God read poorly. In these days of new translations easier to read and of "planned" worship services (as opposed to the song leader planning from the front seat 5 minutes before worship) there is no excuse for stumbling through the verses selected.
So this is for the man or the woman (who slowly, ever so slowly is being asked) who read:

1. Read Nehemiah 8 in which Ezra brings the Law before the assembly made of men, women and all who could understand. He reads it aloud (not with his mouth tucked into his chin). All the people could see him as he read, and as he opened the Law,
THE ASSEMBLY STOOD UP. Ezra led a bit of praise before the reading in which the people responded by lifting their hands and bowing down with their faces to the ground. As the Law was read, the Levites stood nearby to "make clear and give the meaning so that the people could understand what was being read." As they listened to the words of the Law, the people wept. How long has it been since you wept at a reading? Or lifted your hands in praise?
2. Read the assigned scripture over and over until it comes naturally--it may help to read before a mirror--to check on how wide you are opening your mouth and to avoid mumbling.

3. As the scripture comes more easily, the reader can glance up at the listeners occasionally and can also give certain words in the scripture more emphasis and emotion. Avoid at all costs, being theatrical in the reading--don't shout, wave your arms, or mince around the mic.

4. Be sure and give the scripture reference before you begin and if time allows explain anything that may be hard to understand (a la the Levites). DO NOT PONTIFICATE nor adopt the rolling rhythm of an old time preacher.

5. If you wish, ask the audience to stand in reverence at the beginning, and at the end, you could add
"May God bless the reading of his word in our hearts today."

Read Nehemiah 8:1-12.

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