The Good Book

Reading with Expression

 (Thinking about Proper 25B, especially Mark 10:46-52)

B_Proper25-mediumIt must have been twelve years ago. I was back in seminary, very part-time, after a year's leave, and the kind Senior Pastor at my home church took every opportunity to involve me in worship leadership. On the Sunday in question, I read the gospel lesson before his sermon. I got to church early to look over the text, and as I read it, I felt very excited.

You see, once upon a time, when I was a student in Mrs. Barber's 2nd grade class at St. Agnes School, I was called across the hall to read aloud to a circle of mostly boys. Their teacher told them to listen carefully, because "Songbird reads with expression."

I've always been proud of that.

And I saw my opportunity on that Sunday morning in 1997, because the story of blind Bartimaeus is one of those that begs to be read with expression, nay, enthusiasm!

"Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!"

I sang the words out with spirit.

"Son of David, have mercy on me!"

I gave it all the expression I could.

I looked over at my dear Senior Pastor, feeling I had done all I could to help set the tone for his sermon about Bartimaeus, hoping to see his always charming smile of appreciation. But that day it was not forthcoming.

And then I realized that a big part of his sermon? Was rendering the words of Bartimaeus in as dramatic a fashion as possible.

Now-retired Senior Pastor is a member at Y1P. I'm grateful that when he hears me preach now, I get that smile. It's very dear to me.

And if you are preaching this story, and someone else is reading it for you? Check in with the reader ahead of time. Just in case.

(Read more about the image at Vanderbilt's Revised Common Lectionary website.)

The Good Book

About Bibles

Here's my seminary story about Bibles.

HarperCollinsStudyBible-NRSV-759895
When I arrived at Andover Newton in 1994, I heard I would need only one Bible for my seminary education: The Harper Collins Study Bible (New Revised Standard Version). I purchased a hardcover copy. I had no Bible classes that first year, which may sound odd, but as a commuter I took what I could schedule back-to-back, so I used it for reference and personal reading rather than as a textbook.

After a break in my education, I returned in early 2000, and that's when I began taking all my Bible classes. And in that first semester, a professor insisted we needed a different Bible, the New Oxford Annotated Bible, Second Edition.

I sighed. But I bought it. In hardcover.

New Oxford Annotated Study Bible
Then in the fall of 2001, I took a seminar on Mark with a wonderful professor, Abe Smith. For this class he required the purchase of a New Oxford Annotated Study Bible. I thought, great! I have one! But guess what came out later in 2000? Yes, the Third Edition. And my professor wrote some of the notes for it. Not that he wrote the notes for the gospel of Mark, mind you, but he wrote the notes for 1 and 2 Thessalonians, and never mind, just buy the Bible.

I sighed. But I bought it. Only this time, I bought the paperback.

Finally, in a post-seminary attempt to fit into my lectionary group, I succumbed to peer pressure and bought yet another copy of the Harper Collins, in the somewhat-lighter-to-haul paperback version. That's the copy on my desk these days, while the hardcover lives at home and the NOABs have been given away, one to a friend, and one to a family member.

At home you would find a couple of King James Versions, the RSV I received as a 3rd grader at the Olde Presbyterian Meeting House in Alexandria, Virginia, and various CEVs and NRSVs given to my kids by Large Church and Small Church, as well as a Message Remix.

Which version are you reading?