I am a big fan of reading books to children.
I am not a big fan of preachers reading sermons to me. I also find it less and less inspirational to read unison prayers or responsive liturgies from church bulletins. And this article helped me figure out why. From Doug Chaplin:
In her 1990 interview with Terry Gross, Carrie Fisher – who was in her own right an extraordinary writer – was asked, “Have there been lines you’ve had to read during your career that you didn’t think quite work that you really wanted to rewrite?”
“General Kenobi, years ago you served my father in the Clone Wars. I have begged you to help… I have placed information vital to the survival of the rebellion into the memory systems of this R2 unit. My father will know how to retrieve it.”
Her point was there are some words that sound great on paper but they don’t convey the way people actually talk to each other – even in outer space. Some lines make us all sound more like an R2 unit than a real person.
Liturgy can be like that too. Doug Chaplin suggests that these words might sound too pious/formal/stilted/unnatural for our liturgy – especially if we are supposed to be talking to God.
Frankly, I use some of these words in my day to day conversations but I’m a card-carrying professional minister. I probably would not use words like “incarnation” or “fellowship” with my local barrista. And it’s not that these words are actually “complex.” It’s just that they do not connect most people with God.
God is real. God’s heart breaks. God’s Spirit calms me. God’s presence helps me.
I am increasingly more connected to God when worship offers more time for silence than for repeating words – however beautiful – if those words sound like a recitation of somebody else’s sentences. I am definitely not moved when a sermon is read to me rather than preached. I need stories. And I need an invitation to make God’s story my own. I need a glimpse of authenticity regarding the preacher’s story too.
Don’t read to me. Talk to me. Make the story real.
Image of the future General Leia Organa with gratitude for the life of Carrie Fisher.