Josh Philpot

Theology, the Church, and Music

Archive for June 30th, 2010

Old Testament Readings, Anonymous Elders, and Jim Hamilton

with 6 comments

At Kenwood we have three scripture readings during our main worship service: a Call to Worship, an Old Testament reading and a New Testament reading. This past Sunday (6/27) we had a hiccup in the service. One of our elders (who will remain anonymous) didn’t realize that he was scheduled for the Old Testament reading. So, when we finished singing “A Mighty Fortress,” and I noticed that this anonymous elder was not walking to pulpit, I began to get a little nervous. But you must understand why I’m nervous at this point: I’m the one responsible for the worship service. If someone is not walking to the pulpit it’s really my fault! So I scramble through hymnals and papers around the piano looking for a Bible, somehow hopeful that I can get to the pulpit and do the reading myself without making it look like I’m unorganized (pet peeve, by the way). I look over at Jim Hamilton seated in the second row, and he’s looking conspicuously around the room for that same anonymous elder who should be at the pulpit reading the Bible by now. He strikes back an inquisitive but partly accusing look in my direction, as if to say, “Haven’t you organized the worship service?” I send back a shrugged shoulder, hoping that he gets the message that the anonymous elder is supposed to be reading. Jim gets my drift, and true to his character (he’s great at spontaneity), he marches quickly up to the pulpit, ready for the task. And this was the result:

Isaiah 44:24-45:7

We¬† have all been in worship services where our concentration is broken by some distraction. It’s either a high screeching microphone, a baby crying during a prayer, or an anonymous elder forgetting that he’s scheduled to read and pray during the service. We know this well and its amusing to some degree. But each week I try to organize a worship service that might limit our distractions and instead cause all of our efforts to focus on the greatness of God in Christ. Indeed, the whole elder team labors to do this, not simply because we think it’s the right “mood” for worship, but because we want to worship God rightly; that is, in a way that would bring him the most glory. Limiting distractions, I think, is helpful to meeting this goal.

So Jim marched to the pulpit without having read Isaiah 44:24-45:7 and without having prepared a prayer. But afterward, instead of being distracted and instead of feeling some disconnect, Jim helped draw our attention to the greatness of God by reading the Bible with emotion, vigor, sincerity and enthusiasm. And I think his response helped everyone in the congregation, not least myself. In the end, our minds and hearts were once more focused on magnificence of God, and on the awesome privilege we have of worshiping him freely.

I think that Jim should consider a Bible audio book, no?

Written by Josh Philpot

June 30, 2010 at 6:34 pm

Posted in Old Testament