Listening to God’s Word

Gazing at this scene, I long for a simpler time. One without cell phones and touch screens and emails. I can admire these rural people and connect with the idea of coming together as a community to listen to God’s word being read aloud.

I can imagine the sound of the quietly ticking clock on the wall and the gentle tones of the preacher as his voice floats out over all those gathered. The room is overflowing and you can see several standing crowed in the doorway. Everyone is focused on the reading, a sign of humility and respect for God’s word.

Sunday Reading Rural School, 1895, Nikolay Bogdanov-Belsky (1868-1945)                                The State Russian Museum of St. Petersburg, Image Source

Scanning the room, I notice the little boy in the lower left corner who seems to be holding sheet music. He is anxiously waiting for his turn to sing. Just up from the white pages of the preachers book, I see an old woman with slightly cocked head framed by two younger members who are leaning their head on their hands. Relaxed listening to something they have heard many times…a favorite part perhaps.

There are other details, the light from the window casting a shine on things, the red of the scarves and other items of clothing that gives unity and rhythm to the painting. I love the older gentleman in the front who is leaning on his cane, eyes closed, head slightly bent, as he meditates on the power of those words.


This painting reminded me of a wonderful article I have kept about the making of the King James Bible:

“Here the revising scholars had the suggested versions read aloud – no text visible-The ear and the mind were the only editorial tools. They wanted the Bible to sound right.”

The King James Bible: Making a Masterpiece, National Geographic, December 2011, Adam Nicolson.

Resource: If you go to the app store on your phone and type in “Book of Common Prayer” you can download a lovely little app that will give you the daily readings and prayers that go along with the Lectionary. I recommend this app, because it has a morning, midday and evening prayer and you can set your phone to alert or remind you. Wonderful to think about all of us doing this together in our separate homes and work places:))


Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with each other. ~ Mark 9:50


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