You know you've done a good job reading when the priest says to you during the peace, "Hey, the job's yours if you want it next year."
I got to thinking about why I like reading aloud in church and it boils down to -- I do it well. In terms of serving God, I will never be an ordained minister. I have a mediocre grasp of the complexities of theology, I am a fair to poor singer, a decent Scripture teacher, but I read well. It makes me happy to be able to do something liturgical competently. And you might say it is in my family: my father was a lector (reader), my sister is a lector, my husband has been a lector, I am a lector, and my son is a lector.
It always intrigues me how certain passages of Scripture get identified in my head with certain voices. Tonight, when the traditional reading from Romans began, for a second I heard not the voice of a seventy-year old white man, but a thirty-five year old African-American man with a voice as cool and smooth as water flowing down a stream. Romans (and 1 Corinthians 13) will always in my mind "belong" to my friend CW, who upped and moved to Boston in 2001 and whom I still miss.
And Genesis 3 (the story of the fall from grace) will always
"belong" to carobinson
, ever since a Lessons and Carols service three years ago. C, who is a tall Texan, came up and leaned on the podium. The ever-present drawl became just a shade thicker, the speaking cadence a shade slower. "Now, the serpent was the craftiest beast in the garden...." and he was off in full storytelling mode. People laughed at appropriate points in the story (when Adam says "not my fault, she MADE me do it") -- and when you can get a church full of Episcopalians to laugh during the reading (appropriately) you are doing something very right. (The Bible actually has a lot of humor in it -- most people are simply too afraid to laugh for fear of not being reverent. But laughter can be reverent too, in the proper times and places.)
And me? The best readings I've ever done have been readings of the first chapter of Genesis (which is what I read tonight). It is poetry, and it is simply lovely. It gives me great joy.