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Thursday, December 16, 2010

Impossible to Proclaim

This 4th Sunday of Advent, I'm reading Rom 1:1-7.

How?  I dunno.

Look at it.  8 subordinate clauses in the first sentence.  And another 8 subordinate clauses in the next sentence.

That first sentence is just a salutation.  The second sentence is Paul's idea of the Kingdom.

But I'm still thinking "huh?" after reading the first sentence.

The reading is impossible to do any justice to.

The Lector's Notes tell me to:

The Lector's Proclamation: Proclaim this, then, with the gravity it deserves. The sentences are long, but you can break them sensibly into phrases. Don't rush. Be sure to announce it as "The beginning of the Letter of Paul to the Romans," rather than another "reading from ..."
You might try to imagine what the historically first reading of this letter was like. The Christian congregation in Rome was small, not yet persecuted, meeting in someone's home. These were first-generation converts; their heritage: some Jewish, some Gentile. The religion was still genuinely new to them. They did not celebrate Christmas. They had not divided into Catholics and Protestants. There was no church-sponsored sports program. They knew the reputation of Paul, former persecutor turned apostle, and the word has gone out that he has written them a letter. The church assembles one Sunday, and you have the letter. You stand to read it.
A bit melodramatic, yes. But every time a lector stands to read in a twenty-first century assembly, there's a chance that someone there will hear the words as if for the first time.

Drama I can do.  I'm all set.

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