My family’s church home has been a United Methodist Church for almost four years. As a congregation, we say the Lord’s Prayer at every service, whether contemporary or traditional. In the United Methodist tradition, we say, “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us”. A couple of weeks ago, my husband, Alan, told me that he still stumbles over the “trespasses”. He grew up in the Presbyterian Church where they say debts instead of trespass. After years of saying the Lord’s Prayer the new way…he still stumbles. That is the power of words.
The Hindu Vedas are the same; some of these spoken scriptures are so old that the original language has been lost to history. Repeated generation after generation, repeated in exactly the same way every time…even as the world around it changes.
The pastor at our church begins his sermon with the same prayer every time; we all know it, every word. I can hear many people whispering the words with him as he speaks them. It would be very jarring if he spoke the words differently, we would notice any variation even if it were a minor one.
The repeated spoken word surrounds us. It helps us memorize and then share it with others.
When I read Genesis 1, this is what I hear. A song about creation…the Sabbath…the Voice that brought order out of chaos.
When I read Genesis 1, I hear an ancient people telling their story, repeating it, teaching it to their children, poetry that helped shape a people and hold them together especially during the times that their people might have been lost to history.