NT-LIVE-SLIDE-PEG copyWe were standing in a long, uninterrupted line spanning a couple of millennia —the habit of gathering to hear the Word of God read to us. God commanded it from Moses on. Even through dark periods of disobedience, the people of God still observed this. On a couple of occasions, during the times of Ezra and Josiah, for example, the reading of God’s Law was crucial in bringing about some desperately needed reform to the nation of Israel.

The tradition continued in the New Testament. Paul specifically instructed the people receiving his letters to gather together and have them read, and then make sure that they were read to people from other congregations as well. John, writing towards the end of the first century, went so far as to say that there were blessings associated not only with reading the Word but also with hearing it.

Who would have thought that those listening to the Bible through a Bible App today would have been assured of God’s blessings? Indeed, God anticipated the age of the mobile phone. Re-purposing Samsung. Why not?

For the 80 people who joined us, either reading or attending a portion of the event, the experience of reading the New Testament out loud was exhilarating. There is no better word to describe it. Hearing the testimonies of some of the people, they were honest enough to say that at first they were not sure what to make of the idea, but when they sat down and participated, they were deeply moved.

Our N.T. Live event, which started early morning on May 28, lasted for roughly 19 hours. But it was more than an event. It was a communal exercise fueled by the powerful Word of God. Memorable, yes, but life changing as well.

We started right at 5 a.m. with two songs led by Wes and Allison Crenshaw and a prayer offered by Pastor Ivanildo. Two ladies started us off with the first Gospel. Hearing them break down as they read portions of Christ’s birth, death and resurrection set the tone for great things to come. Some of us were immediately hooked. A handful never left the building. Others came back at different times and many kept checking our live streaming from wherever they were. Everyone was linked in this rich tradition.

One by one readers lined up, each with a different voice, a variety of styles, some with long pauses for tears, others with shouts of jubilation for joy. By the time we were done with the Gospels, I thought my heart was going to explode – Jesus in all His glory and frailty had been displayed. Good won. His redemption was accomplished and it reached me. It was as if I saw my conversion story jump from the pages of Scriptures. But there was so much more to come. We were only beginning.

The day turned into night, some voices tired but others brought a freshness to the proceedings. We plowed through Romans and Hebrews, climbed atop the epistles, and reached the summit of Revelation. The spectacular vision of God sitting on the throne had the effect of an epic song of triumph. The sight was almost too much to bear. We wanted to weep. But mostly, we wanted to worship. So some got up and raised their hands to honor the Lamb of God that was slain. The plot thickened and the enemy grew fierce. But in the end, the New Jerusalem came down from heaven and Jesus celebrated His victory with His Bride when the new day broke. It was Sunday, May 29th, at 12:20 am. The day was done, but the rush was just beginning.

I heard several descriptions about the experience we shared together, but none said it better than the words of our Worship Arts Director, Wes Crenshaw. “We sat under the teaching of Jesus for almost 19 hours.” That’s exactly right, my friends. And like Jacob, who worked for his bride for seven years and said it only felt like a day, we were so energized at the end that we all realized that sitting through all that reading was never a struggle. Rather, it was sheer, unadulterated, God-induced, Holy Spirit engendered joy that will have many of us talking about it a long time to come.

But more than the rush, we pray, this reading will also call us to action — to love His Word more, to keep it closer to our heart, to measure it more intently against our walk, to move us toward righteousness, convict us of sins, and plunge us into radical obedience, for the sake of the Messiah and this world which desperate needs the potion He notoriously gives to those who come to Him.  We got reminded of how potent that potion is.

Maranatha,

Pastor Ivanildo da Costa Trindade
Lead Pastor, Grace Church, Lititz, PA
June 2, 2016

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