Reading Scripture Through the Night

by Joe Jaynes

The 2012 WORDathon is in full swing as I write this blog entry. We began reading Genesis 1:1 at 8:00 pm on Wednesday, Dec. 26 and my first reading shift rolled around at 2:25 am Thursday. Rev. John Stuart and I read together for 5+ hours through the cold winter night, bringing the books of Leviticus and Numbers to life. Or trying to, anyway. There are big chunks of both books that are very repetitive and pretty tough to liven up. But it was still fun and surprisingly fulfilling. By the time we finished at 7:45 am, the sun had risen and the day was in full swing.

In some sense, we were reading to ourselves. Matthew Lloyd was the only “audience” member sitting in the pews at Erin Presbyterian Church, and he came up and read a few chapters with us at one point, which left 3 people reading “on stage” and no one in the “audience.” But that was only on the surface. There were in fact many “audiences” experiencing The Word with us.

First, there were the readers themselves. We took turns reading a chapter at a time aloud, so when I was not reading, I was listening. And the very act of reading aloud transforms the reader into a self-listener, too. I was amazed at how different listening to myself read aloud was, compared to when I read scripture silently. The text really does come alive when you hear it spoken … even when the speaker is you.

Next, there was our Internet audience, listening and watching the live streaming feed. This is the first time a WORDathon has been broadcast, live, to a (potentially) world-wide audience. It may have been 3:00 am in Knoxville, but it was mid-morning, mid-afternoon, and mid-evening in other locations around the world. We have had at least a handful of viewers tuned in at any given moment, and many have left encouraging comments in the video player’s chat stream. It was exciting to realize that the spoken Word was touching hearts and minds simultaneously, around the world.

Finally, I know that God was listening, too. Smiling wryly, perhaps, as I stumbled over pronunciations of place and proper names that twisted my tongue terribly. But smiling with pleasure, too, as The Word was proclaimed with joy and enthusiasm and heard with appreciation.

The 2012 WORDathon runs through Saturday, Dec. 29, at roughly 9:00 pm. Click here to tune in to the live stream, or to replay the archive if the event has ended by the time you read this.