Wednesday, April 29, 2015
Order in Chaos
That said, my focus here is on the use of lay readers or lectors. IF you have them, and although I find nothing to forbid the practice even if it is not essential or even necessarily beneficial, then we ought to have a curriculum for and some basic standards required of those who read the lessons (not the Gospel) on Sunday morning. This sort of sub-diaconal role has long standing and history within the catholic tradition. To be sure this was part of the development of the myriad of minor orders and offices that became a ladder to the priesthood. I certainly do not envision restoring the idea of minor orders and its progression to ordination. But it can also stand alone. IF we will have people reading the lessons, then let us at least have some sort of expectation of training and some sort of standards of competence since this is not something casual. It would be much more salutary than a blurb in the Sunday bulletin or monthly newsletter asking folks if this is something they want to do.
Some of the training would be eminently practical -- pronunciation helps and training for public reading. But some of it needs to be theological -- what is this Word, what about the lectionary, not only how do we read it but why, and what does God do through His Word read and heard... among other things. We already have people doing it (every parish I have served or served in has had lay readers well established before I got there) and not everyone is a good reader and the task is too important to simply be farmed out to any willing volunteer. So why not have an order of lectors, uniform training, and standards of competence?
Note here that I am NOT suggesting that each District of the Synod do its own thing. Districts are not independent representative groups of congregations to the Synod but simply the Synod in that place (something we often forget). So lets not make the same mistake we did with lay deacons (isn't that an oxymoron) and have every District do what seems pleasing in its own neck of the Synodical woods. No, let us proceed with a view toward bring some order out of the chaos of Sunday morning ministers. It may just assist the Pastor in helping the people have a higher view of Scripture and it may just encourage more young men to consider seminary and the pastoral vocation. . . never a bad thing.
Just a few thoughts here. . .