Why have I begun to hear the public reading of the holy scriptures so frequently prefaced by the command, “Listen for the word of God?” Dear lector, what on earth do you mean? What is this liturgical innovation supposed to accomplish?
Are you implying that I need to sift through the chaff to find the grain of wheat in this reading? May I simply discard the parts I find distasteful or unworthy of my expectations of the deity?
Or are you telling me that I can read whatever subjective meaning I might find uplifting or helpful into the text? Is it only the word of God in my personal, subjective encounter with it?
Sorry, I don’t get it.
Of course the assembly has to interpret the word it has received within the context of scriptures’s grand narrative and the great tradition of the church, but it must begin that process at a point of confidence in the divine authority of the text.
If you are ever forced to hear to me preach, please, listen “for” the word of God. If you are fortunate, maybe you’ll find a pony in the pile of manure. As the apostle Paul said regarding the word of contemporary prophets, “Test them all. Hold on to that which is good. Reject every kind of evil.”
But when I hear the holy scriptures being read in the assembly of the faithful, I want the lector to proclaim confidently, “This is the word of the Lord,” so that I can respond with faith and thanksgiving. Thanks be to God.