NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (BNc) — The Somers Avenue congregation is spending its time on Sunday evenings reading the Bible, one New Testament letter at a sitting. The following article, written to the congregation, from the upcoming May 22 issue of the church bulletin, “The Observer,” details some of their experience.
by Oran Burt, preaching minister :: Can you imagine a gathering of the early Christians in the first century who were listening to the oral reading of a letter written to the churches? It would be the first time anyone had heard it. It would be from an apostle inspired by God to write concerning things of importance to the church and to the world.
These individual Christians would not have their own personal copies of the completed Old and New Testaments to read along in the assembly. As these letters were copied and distributed, more and more of the New Testament would be available. But, at first, there was the in-person, oral presentation to accompany the written word.
On Sunday evenings, we have undertaken an ambitious task of presenting oral readings of the Bible texts, without commenting during the reading and without sermonizing on the text — just reading and listening.
We have heard many good comments about this, and it has been well received. You have endured some lengthy readings as we began with the order in which these N.T. books were written: Galatians, 1 & 2 Thessalonians, 1 & 2 Corinthians, and Romans.
These last three took about 40 to 50 minutes each of non-stop reading to complete them.
Here’s an oddity: Where else on the planet Earth, last Sunday night, May 15th, did anyone, especially a group of 150+ Christians, hear the entire letter of the apostle Paul to the church at Rome read aloud? Now that’s highly proprietary and completely unique, to say the least! And there is a quality and power inherent in the Word, all by itself, that is found nowhere else. When it stands alone, it stands immutable.
Whether it comes through a printed page, telegraph key, telephone, microphone, radio, TV, video, audio, CD, DVD, tape, Kindle, Nook, Blackberry, Droid, I-pad, I-pod, computer, cell phone, (and in any human language) —- the Bible says the same thing! I am happy to see people in the audience with a blue glow on their brow as they follow along in the Word on those tiny screens.
Tonight, we will hear the letter to the church at Colossae. Considerably shorter with only four chapters, it should allow for some reflection and comment following the reading. See you tonight!