Author Ruth Smith Meyer

Ruth Smith Meyer Inspirational writer, speaker

Thinking out Loud on my Blog

Learning through Vulnerability

Posted by ruthsmithmeyer-com on March 10, 2013 at 5:20 PM

Perhaps there are some people who love to see themselves in pictures or in video, but I’m not one of them. I guess others are used to seeing me as I am, but I still harbor high hopes that I look different than I do. Seeing myself as I am on a big screen--how I look, how I talk, my facial expressions, breaks through those cherished delusions!

In a series of worship workshops I that I led, we came to Effective Scripture Reading. I suggested that the scripture passage be copied and printed from the internet in a size that is easy to read, then to make indentations in the lines so it’s easy to keep track of where you are after you look up at the audience for that important eye-contact.

After demonstrating how to mark the chosen scripture passage with underlines and bold print for emphasis, and then adding gentle reminders such as smile or speak tenderly, for expression, I invited each person to mark their own copies in readiness to read.

When I told the gathered group that we had the capability to video-tape each person as they read their prepared passage, there were a few groans, but my heart was warmed and I was encouraged that everyone there was brave enough to take part. They were willing to be vulnerable in order to learn.

That takes some vulnerability! In fact, the willing response encouraged me so much that after everyone else had done it, I said I would also take my turn. I’ve done a lot of worship leading and reading of scripture, but I had never done it in front of a video camera. That experiment revealed to each of us where we had done well and where we could improve.

• We could see what a difference it made when the reader looked up as often as possible.

• We also realized the benefit familiarity with the scripture would be in order to do that.

• We understood that each word needs to be plainly spoken--not just the ones being emphasized.

• Some readers vividly confirmed what a change it makes in the understanding and reception of the passage when the readers demonstrated the feeling behind the words—and we knew the reader had taken time to enter emotionally into the incident being portrayed. That too, takes vulnerability in order to learn and to help others learn.

Eugene Peterson says, that

"Printer’s ink" can become "embalming fluid" if it’s read flat off the page.

Anyone who has attended church over the years has, I’m sure, been exposed to a lot of embalming fluid. Scripture reading time is the place in the service that it’s easy to tune out, take a nap or read bulletins. You think you’ve heard this all before.

Years ago while attending a workshop on Scripture reading, our instructor sat on a chair, put his feet up on another, crossed his arms and with a terribly bored look on his face intoned in a “churchy” voice, “Fire…fire.” We all laughed, but no one left the room. He did this to emphasize that how we say something—our tone, our body language and expression, makes it believable or unbelievable.

Ever since, when asked to read scripture, I take it as a challenge to keep my listeners awake and hearing it as for the first time. That too, takes time, prayer and vulnerability, but is rewarding when you look up and see people almost leaning forward—you know the reading has full attention of the audience. When comments are later made about the scripture coming alive for people, the vulnerability is well worthwhile.

As writers, wouldn’t we be pleased to have people read our stories with the same emotion with which we wrote it? If God preserved the words of the Bible for all these years, for our benefit, I think we should do all we can to get his message across with the same love that he displayed in making such a big sacrifice just so we could walk with him in intimate communion.

So it may not be such a big sacrifice to make ourselves vulnerable enough to learn. After all, it isn’t how we look that is important—it’s how well we present the message.

 

 

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