Written by Mary Luti
"Ezra brought the Book before the assembly, opening the Book in their sight; and when he opened it, they all stood up. So they read from the Book... and the people said, 'Amen! Amen!'" - Nehemiah 8:1-3, 5-6, 10
A newcomer in a wedding gown walks into worship, followed by two elderly members. They'd been getting into the car when the bride appeared, asking for a ride. "Where are you going?" they inquired. "With you," came the reply. And so they'd come to church. The couple slides into a pew, but the bride spots the chancel choir. They spot the bride. Meaningful glances are exchanged. It's only when the bride's halfway down the aisle that anyone notices the iguana in the pocket of the gown. The choir contracts, the bride and the iguana squeeze in. The bride belts out the anthem to the tune of "I Got You, Babe." The gospel's next: Jesus tells Martha that the dead Lazarus will live. Then he asks, "Do you believe this?" The bride jumps up and screams, "I do! I do!" No one moves, but you know—everyone in the room believes it too.
An affluent member reads from the Sermon on the Mount: "Give away your coat." A homeless woman in attendance finds her after worship as she's putting on her cashmere jacket to leave, and asks her for it. Speechless, she hands it over.
A 6-year-old wails when in the appointed reading Jesus says, "Hate your mother and father." She thinks belonging to Jesus' family means she can't belong to hers. In a way she's right.
Annanias and Sapphira drop dead after lying to the apostles. The reader chirps: "The Word of the Lord!" An attentive teen responds, "It is?"
Thank you, God, for your life-interrogating, community-shaping, weird and wonderful Word, read in the assembly, lived in the world.
Mary Luti is a long time seminary educator and pastor, author of Teresa of Avila’s Way and numerous articles, and founding member of The Daughters of Abraham, a national network of interfaith women’s book groups.