Monday, October 27, 2008


My first full-time ministry was as a youth and Christian education pastor at a church of about 600-800 people. One of my tasks was occasionally doing the scripture reading for the day. Knowing I was to read...I would go over the assigned passage ahead of time so I wouldn't stumble over any unfamiliar words.

Alas, one Sunday brought a guest speaker and a different passage than that assigned. Normally not a problem except I had a brain freeze when it came to reading and pronouncing one word. The passage was in Mark 2 and it dealt with the parlyzed man being brought to Jesus. My translation talked about the "paralytic" and, if you pronounced it correctly then that is fine. I just couldn't get the accent right so I kept talking about the "par-ALytic." I knew in my mind it wasn't right but I couldn't think how to correct it. I sat down, embarrassed for myself and kept trying to think about the correct way to pronounce this word. A few minutes later, during verse 2 of whatever hymn we were singing, I remembered how to pronounce it. Since I also had a prayer during the service, I so badly wanted to pray for the poor "paralytic." I wanted to give thanks for God's grace to the paralytic and the healing brought to the paralytic and, if given the option I would have mentioned this healed paralytic a half dozen times.

I did not do what I wanted and learned a valuable lesson--people ARE listening. The church got about a half dozen notes with people letting me know how to correctly pronounce the word. Sigh...amazing how a blip in thinking can cause a situation remembered 25 years later.

One of the things I have noticed, though, is that many people DO mispronounce words when it isn't necessary. When reading Scripture, I have seen many readers also try to maintain eye contact with the audience and stumble over words. I have been in dozens of worship services where the singer has missed the words plainly printed in front of them. Many pastors have gotten ahead of themselves and misread the words set in front of them which then causes me to become distracted and tune out for awhile.

I understand mistakes--that is what my misread was. I don't quite understand either taking the time to go over what is to be read or, learning how to read what is in front of us correctly.

I guess at times we just get "parALyzed."

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