Saturday, October 15, 2016

From the Fifth Grade

Mrs. Shoemaker was my fifth grade teacher at Wacona Elementary in Waycross, Ga. long years ago.  Like every other fourth grader, I wanted to be promoted and assigned to her class.  She did more than teach us the 3 R's.  We learned to play real music with a plastic flutophone.  Every day we practiced until our group rendering of "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" sounded good enough to record.  And she taught us poetry.  As a class we mastered stanzas of poetry and used them for our first experience in choral reading.  Even back then there was something powerful let loose when a group of voices were raised to offer a spoken choral reading.
As powerful as it is, the 46th Psalm is even more powerful when read aloud by the gathered congregation.  However, such is hardly done anymore and when it is done in the form of a responsive reading, or litany, everyone seems more interested in getting it finished than experiencing the power of the Word being proclaimed by the worshipping host of people.  In my United Methodist tradition, people talk about wanting a Biblically based church, but no one wants to read it, or even listen to it being read during the worship hour.  Give us plenty of singing, a good measure of preaching, but keep the reading of the Word to a minimum.
Ah, but read this powerful 46th Psalm and imagine what it would sound like to have it read enthusiastically by a gathered group of 20, or 50, or a hundred, or more.  Even now while alone read those words aloud slowly and hear them as they come back from across the room to you.  Feel the power of the Words.  Know the power of the Spirit coming alive within them.  Allow yourself to long to be surrounded by lovers of God who are eager to let loose their tongues to lift up these Words of scripture with one great voice.  Be overwhelmed, be overcome, be filled, and be overjoyed with praise to this God who is our constant refuge and strength even when the earth beneath us has shaken us to the core of our being.   

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