I go back and forth about things like using pre-determined readings at church and which version of the creed/Lord’s prayer should be used. Ultimately these are decisions that are not up to me, but I have found myself in situations that have called for me to have an opinion about them. Today I am merely sharing my thoughts on it, though.
One of the things I wonder about is whether using the “King James” style of Lord’s prayer (complete with “thee” and “thy”) is useful. On the one hand, the children of our congregation have been memorizing it that way for years. So there is an educational impact to changing it. There is also something sacred-sounding to the language, taking you into another time and place and invoking images of soaring cathedral ceilings and stained glass and chanting. Or maybe that’s just me.
On the other hand, there is the impact it can have on those outside of the church. The reason so many people are intimidated by Shakespeare in school is because the language is more difficult to understand. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard it referred to as “Old English,” a pet peeve of mine because Old English is technically another language altogether, needing translation. It’s what Beowulf was written in. King James style English is modern English. Anyway, tangent over.
What does it say about mission that we don’t adapt our service wording in all aspects to those who may be unchurched? Then again, how much should we change for the sake of those who are not already accustomed to it? And is it more important to teach them and hold to our traditions, knowing that having some traditional aspects to the faith gives it more creedence in the eyes of an outsider?
Part of the reason I’m thinking about this is because my husband chooses not to followed the prescribed readings for the church year. He chooses to preach more thematically and select readings that fit the theme of the day. I don’t argue with that approach. In fact, until today I never understood the argument for the other side of the equation, to be joined with the rest of the church on earth in the same readings, which connects us to other Christians around the world. To me, that is the reason why we continue to use the Lord’s Prayer and the creeds. But I see a new element to the debate now.
I’ve been doing my daily devotions lately from the daily lectionary, a set of prescribed readings for each day throughout the year. Some follow the church year, others, the calendar. What I have found is that when I am connected to other Christians in this way, the text is opened up for me more fully. That is because my husband also uses these for his personal devotional time and usually writes a weekly devotion based on one or two of the readings. In addition, one of the blogs I follow also commented on one of the readings for this week. So I found myself thinking more in-depth about the Word of God from being exposed to the same passage a few times over. That’s important. God opening His Word to me is a good thing.