Thursday, March 05, 2009

Reading the Bible in Church

The context isn't that important, but the following snippet from an ALPB Online Forum post by Marie Meyer evokes for me a wonderful image. Mrs. Meyer is reflecting after having just returned from five weeks with her husband working among pastors, seminary students and deaconesses of the India Evangelical Lutheran Church:
In the midst of millions of non-Christians are fellow Lutherans who, against obstacles we could not comprehend, are teaching, baptizing and making disciples. We worshipped in thatched huts that followed the liturgy with which I grew up. No matter what the size of the congregation, everyone brings their Bible to church and follows the lessons. One practice that captured our attention is that the first person, man, woman or child, who finds the announced lesson stands and reads the text. The on-going LCMS discussion about whether the pastor is the only one who ought to read the lessons seemed so trivial as we watched the devotion with which the lessons were read by members of the congregation.
Hmm. Perhaps adopting that practice would not only save Zion the cost of bulletins with the lessons pre-printed, but we could also stop worrying about getting people to sign up as Lector. (We haven't that particular LCMS discussion in decades.)

Reminds me of a story my mother often told about when Pastor Eddie Spirer, the first pastor I actually remember, was Vice-Pastor (now we call them "Interim Pastors") of our church. (I was 4 at the time, and I remember being part of a group of children running down the aisle to excitedly greet Pastor Spirer.) Pastor Spirer wanted worshipers to bring their Bibles with them to church. (Seems Lutherans didn't do that any more than we do today.) So he promised that every person he saw carrying a Bible into worship would get one of his famous jelly rolls (you did notice the sub-title of his biography, no?). One Sunday, Mom managed -- between getting us home from Sunday School and coming back to church -- to bring her Bible. Yup, Eddie noticed! "I don't know her name," Mom remembers his announcement beginning his awarding her of a jelly roll.

Of course, no one would have dreamed to ask her to then read the lessons in the service. It was 1963 and that was the Pastor's job, even in the "liberal" LCA. We didn't start having lay readers (lectors) until the mid-'70s. So I'll just point you to Jesus at the synagogue in Nazareth and that's enough for tonight..

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