Sunday, June 13, 2010


no, that title is not an encouragement to read this post aloud. as much as my husband is always trying to get me to engage in family read-alouds (insert gagging noise here), and as much as i am known to love to read aloud to children (ask my little friend e.k., bringer of many books to my lap)--as much as all of that is true, i will never encourage you to read this stuff aloud. disclaimer complete.

when is the last time you read something aloud with a group of people? if you're the churchgoing type, you've probably read plenty of prayers aloud. but in a large group, the effect i'm going for is kind of lost. so when is the last time you read something aloud in a small group? have you ever noticed how people emphasize different words?

recently, i read some scripture aloud with three friends. i've forgotten now what the passage was that we were reading, but i remember well the effect. i noticed that each of us emphasized a different word. for example, had the sentence been this one from psalm 37--"Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday"--one of my friends would have emphasized the verb "commit," another the subject "he."

i find that when i read passages like that i emphasize the word "will." i think it's something about claiming the promise embedded in that sentence. the Lord will keep his word, and we can rest in that. for me, the emphasis isn't on who will be doing the thing or what the thing is to be done or to whom it will be done; rather, for me, the focus is on the certainty: it will be done.

which says something about me, i'm sure, and about God, too. but it also highlights something that i love about the body of Christ. we're all looking in the same direction--upward, presumably--but we're all doing it with a different focus, a different perspective. when you put four people together to read a scripture passage and each person emphasizes a different word, the result is a collective emphasis on all the words. and that is Good stuff. we can't see all the glory of God at once, each individually, but we can each focus on the piece we can see, and together we can work to reflect it all.

it makes me want to read this passage from psalm 57 aloud with a small group of friends, too, because i think it's as important to emphasize our commitment as it is to focus on God's promises: "My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast! I will sing and make melody! Awake, my glory! Awake, O harp and lyre! I will awake the dawn! I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples; I will sing praises to you among the nations. For your steadfast love is great to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds. Be exalted, O God, above the heavens! Let your glory be over all the earth!" (emphases mine. how about yours?)

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