As I'm working on tomorrow's sermon, it hits me hard sitting here: The reading of Scripture, just to be read and soaked up in an Assembly, does it make a difference? Personally, I try to use only passages that pertain to the sermon, I never use Scripture just as "filler" material in a sermon. I have to edit out a lot of what I could insert. There are more passages that tie in than one might think, for any given sermon. Sometimes I think how enjoyable it would be to just read the passage and let the passage speak for itself. But, would lives be changed?
My burning question today is, do words really matter, esp the Words of Scripture?
- We stand before God and our community when we get married. Weddings are an exchange of what? Vows. Vows are what; words. These words are supposed to count. They are a commitment of what we will and won't do. Words of accountability and support.
- Think of the inspiration that comes from great historical speeches. The Gettysburg address. MLK's "I have a dream." The men who first landed on the moon, "One small step for man...." I'm no sports fan, but I'm sure there are halftime, locker-room speeches from the ages that are moving and powerful too. Words of motivation & inspiration.
- It's an election year, and I'd say it's fair to claim most candidates are elected largely by their oration skills. Their track record, their plans and the promises they make are part of the package. Still. I think how well they debate and communicate play the largest roll in how we respond at the polls. Words that harness power, shaping our culture & our times...
So, I know words carry weight. What about "just" reading the Bible, together...?
Today I had lunch with two close friends. We talked about, among other things, the reading and the memorizing of Scripture, as a church. Maybe, now that I think about it, maybe that's why this idea is floating around in my head? Back to lunch: We talked about the need to read more Scripture in our assemblies, and in our small group settings. The idea of learning to read Scripture was brought up too; like the importance of being heard clearly and articulating well as we read out loud.
I wonder how well we respond to the power of Scripture in our spiritual formation? Is there power in the Word, in just reading it and hearing read to transform us? I'm not just asking are we comforted by the 23rd Psalm in times of sorrow, are we inspired to reach the world for Christ in the reading of Matt 28:18-20, or do we feel more Christ like in the reading of Phil 2:1-11... I'm asking: Will God's people really experience a metamorphic shift by spending more time simply hearing the Words of Scripture, together?
Time will tell.