How to be a Reader
"So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the word of Christ." -Romans 10.17
The Importance of the Task
“When the Scriptures are read in the Church, God is speaking to his people, and Christ, present in his own word, is proclaiming the gospel.”
This is not to scare you away, but to impress upon you the importance of the task of reading scripture in worship. Proclamation is different from reading. You are a storyteller—and this is the greatest story ever told. Use your voice to communicate this importance. This is holy work and ought to be done with care, conviction, Joy, and preparation.
A Proposal for Preparation
When you get the readings from the secretary the week before you read, take some time to pray. Ask God for courage, insight, and boldness in proclaiming the Word.
2. Read the Scriptures Aloud
Even though you will not have to read the Gospel or the Psalm in worship, please read all four readings out loud. Look for connections between the texts. There is always a specific link between the First Reading and the Gospel, but you can almost always find many connections and help you to vocally interpret the texts that you will read. Also determine the genre of the reading. Is it a letter? a poem? a parable? How does that affect how you will read it?
3. Reread the First and Second Reading
Try to identify the main point of each reading. Jot down your summary of the text or bracket the main theme verse.
4. Mark Up The Readings
This is an art more than a science. Do it your way—but be sure to do it.
First, find your pauses—they break up the reading, helping your listeners digest the story. Silence is as important as the words. Mark them with a slash. Second, pick out the words you think are the most important. This is subjective. Pick your words intentionally. Underline them. Last, look for other “hand holds.” Is there a quote? How will you make that vocally clear? Is there a list? How can you verbally or physically communicate that? Does that affect how you choose key words?
5. Practice, Practice, Practice
Don’t worry about eye contact. In fact, keeping your nose buried in scripture may communicate how important every word is. And don’t worry about those crazy place names. Do your best to pronounce them authentically, but they are NOT the focus of your proclamation. (If you are a perfectionist you can visit www.netministries.org/Bbasics/bwords.htm. This site has both a phonetic spelling and a short sound clip so you can hear it. However, know that many biblical place name pronunciations are disputed—you know, “tomayto” vs. “tomahto.”) Do worry about taking your time, speaking into the microphone, and being well prepared.