Saturday, August 26, 2006

God’s Sense of Humor

If you know me, I think you will appreciate the humor in this. If you don't know me, but have read this blog, I think you'll understand anyway.

Now, let me preface this whole thing by saying I believe the Scriptures to be the word of God. I do not dismiss them. I believe they contain all things necessary for salvation. And I believe there is a reason for every verse to be in there, even if I cannot always discern that reason.

That said, let us continue.

We have so many lectors in our parish that I only get to do the Epistle reading about once a year – if that. I was delighted to get a call last month, asking me to be lector on August 27. "You bet!" I said. I didn't even bother to go to my Prayer Book or online resources to see which reading it would be. I knew the Parish Administrator would be mailing me a printed copy.

A few days later, it arrived in the mail. And as soon as I started reading, I absolutely howled with laughter. And – once I got my breath – called the person who assigns lectors. "Did you pick this date just for me, or does God have an uncanny sense of humor?" She denied the former, so I suppose it's the latter.

So, my friends, a little after 9:30 tomorrow morning, I will stand on the Epistle side and intone the following:

A reading from Paul's letter to the Ephesians:

"Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, be subject to your husbands as you are to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife just as Christ is the head of the church, the body of which he is the Savior. Just as the church is subject to Christ, so also wives ought to be, in everything, to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, in order to make her holy by cleansing her with the washing of water by the word, so as to present the church to himself in splendor, without a spot or wrinkle or anything of the kind—yes, so that she may be holy and without blemish. In the same way, husbands should love their wives as they do their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hates his own body, but he nourishes and tenderly cares for it, just as Christ does for the church, because we are members of his body. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a great mystery, and I am applying it to Christ and the church. Each of you, however, should love his wife as himself, and a wife should respect her husband."

This is the Word of the Lord.

And the people will respond, "Thanks be to God."

And for the next few moments, we will all wonder whether our priest will choose to address that reading in her sermon, or address the "difficult teaching" in the Gospel for the day. There are some Sundays when I sure am glad I'm not the preacher!


Blogger marge said...

Dear Lisa,

I could just imagine myself sitting in my favorite pew watching you, and trying not to smile...

Of course, you could not make eye contact with anyone who knows you....

Of note....I, too, have been assinged that reading on more than one occasion...



8/26/2006 9:41 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Thanks, Marge. I'm not sure I could've made it if you had been there. I would have felt your expression, even if I refused to look. ;-) I did manage to get thru the reading without too much trouble, though folks did comment on the very audible sigh I made before I began. [I wasn't aware of it -- I swear!] And several folks commented afterwards at the irony of this ol' gal lecturing the husbands and wives on their treatment of each other.

God is good ... all the time!

One of our parishioners told me afterwards that her husband refuses ever to be scheduled for the Epistle reading [opts for the Hebrew Scripture instead], because he's afraid he'll be forced to read one of Paul's statements that he just . . . could . . . not . . . get thru.

8/27/2006 2:26 PM  
Blogger KJ said...

Unfortunately, how radical that passage is is lost on 20th century ears. When written, a woman being subject to her husband was not something new. However, the idea that a man should LOVE his wife and follow Christ's example and "give himself up" for her, was a very new thing.

Paul, for his time, was not the conservative we'd like to make him out to be. While his words are used legalistically by some, I think it's important to keep in mind and communicate that the theme of his writings is the height, breadth, depth and love of Christ.

I suspect that that was a manner of life that presented a bit of a challenge to more than a few in the early church.

8/28/2006 9:49 AM  
Blogger Saint Pat said...

KJ is right -- a lot of what Paul (and Jesus, too) said was radical in those times, and unfortunately, people have done the "pick and choose" things a lot with Paul. For example, quoting the wife's duties, but leaving off the husband's responsibilities.

Still, I'd have a little trouble getting through women being quiet in the church without a snicker!

8/28/2006 1:22 PM  

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