January 9, 2020
FRANCISCO-FACT: I like to read. How can I combine my passion for reading with worship service?
In St. Francis' tradition we have combined the liturgical roles of Lay Eucharistic Minister (LEM's) with that of Lay Reader. We signal the importance of this role by asking the LEM's to robe and process with the Acolytes, Choir, and Clergy. This has been our local option and is a common one, although it is not the only way to go about this, and each choice makes its theology apparent. By robing and processing, St. Francis has chosen a path enhance the role of Lay Reader.
Some church's, my sponsoring parish, St. Bartholomew's in Manhattan being one of them, signaled the ownership of this ministry by the People by having lay readers, dressed in street clothes, come from among the congregation to stand behind the lectern to read from huge Bible. It was a bit terrifying the first time anyone stood to read to that city block-sized sanctuary and its gathered worshippers. But it was a real demonstration of lay participation in the worship by having women, men, teens, and, sometimes, children come to that microphone to read from the sacred texts. I know it changed how I approached reading and reading scripture.
As St. Francis reviews its practices around worship, the clergy would certainly like to emphasize the participation of the laity and to signal how important it is to have their expression of the scriptures to the gathered congregation on Sunday. We may experiment in the near term with adding lay readers coming from the People to read the sacred texts. A member need only have the desire to make this happen. Licensing does not require anything beyond baptism, a little training, and some courage to take place.