An Extra Emphasis on the Scripture Reading

by Sanctified Brother

You’re expected to bring your Bible to church, be it a traditional book or an app on your iDevice, because you’re going to use it. Churches solicit congregational participation by asking everyone—children, wage earners, professionals, retirees, politicians, visitors, backsliders—to reverently stand and recite a predefined passage of scripture from their Bibles in unison.

What you hear in your immediate circle, though, isn’t always reverence. Some folks struggle with ancient Biblical words. Some are generally not the best readers. Some don’t hear very well and keep asking their neighbors what verse they’re supposed to read. And then there are those whose simple actions elicit laughter from anyone in the periphery.

The old woman behind me didn’t mean any harm. Her actions…her frustrations…her comments…they were innocently disruptive. I only noticed her once we were reciting the scriptures and I heard a commotion. Turning, I saw a frustrated lady in a huge church hat, lips twisted up in a scowl, furiously turning the pages of her well-worn, dog-eared, beat up, old Bible. She must have been in her late 80s, 4-foot-something, and from Jamaica, West Indies.

I turned back to mind my business and was interrupted again when she commented on every few words we recited, stamping her old foot for emphasis. She shook her head in enthusiastic affirmation and her church hat, relatively light for its size, threatened to fall off from the aggressive movements. Her accent, thick and husky, coupled with her deliberate expressions, were almost comical.

13 When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?

“Hmm…what dem a’say, chile?”

14 And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets.

“But whaaiiit!”

15 He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?

“Who dem a’talk?”

16 And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.

“Dat’s MY Jesus! De true and living God!”

17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.

18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.


I couldn’t help snickering in my mind and I know someone else had to be fighting the same fight as me. Making eye contact with someone else to see if they were aware of the old woman would have been a mistake; we would have both bust out laughing and the deacons would have come to escort us out. All I could do was lower my head to make it appear that I was immersed in prayer. So much for the reverence…