The other day at church, I had a dear older gentleman tell me that he wished they would use our young people to read scripture instead of using him. While I understand completely where he was coming from it wasn't until after he read the scripture that a thought occurred to me. The man was completely prepared. He had read over the passage a few times already and was familiar with it. He even made a special comment before services began that he liked to read over the passage a few times in case there were hard names or places that required special pronunciation. He was practiced in the passage for that morning. So after he read, I realized just how much I gained from hearing him read. The older gentleman who had read thousands of times before had felt like he had "paid his dues" and was ready to retire from such menial services in the church. But if only he knew just how much it meant for me to hear him that morning. I think I will have to let him know, and to encourage him to do this as much as he's needed.
I had heard this same sentiment from an elder I knew many years ago. He was commenting that he didn't like to offer prayers during the service as he felt like he was already overworked and that he was "over-serving". "There's plenty of others here in the church who could serve by leading prayer" he said. I told him then that I appreciated him leading prayer, and knew that he was serving in a big way, but that it was good for us all to hear him pray, as his prayers were beautiful. One of my favorite things he said in most all his prayers was the phrase, "Thank you dear LORD for this 'gorgeous' day". It little phrases like this that endears us to a prayer and to a person.
I think now back to when I was a young boy, and hearing my grand-dad lead the church in prayer, and how I cherish that memory. But what if my grand-dad had the same attitude... of letting the younger crowd do most everything in the service. I would have never had this memory of listening to and hearing my grand-dad pray. I would have never learned all it was that he was thankful for, and to hear the compassion and wisdom in his voice.
I agree, we all have a place and we all fill a need during our corporate worship. We all should be willing to serve when needed or called upon, and I'm realizing more that I need to contribute more myself. But my point is that it is very good for the younger crowd to hear the older generation serve by leading prayer, or by reading scripture. The older gentleman who read the scripture showed us all what it means to be prepared, what it means to take this service seriously, reverently, and respectfully. The younger generation could do well in learning and patterning their service after his fine example.
Thank you, sir for your willingness to serve in such a small way for us all. You helped us focus on God by your reading, and you helped us shape our own lives in our service to God by your seriousness, by your reverence, by your preparedness, and by your respect. May we all realize that whatever it is we're asked to do, it's not about us.