Perusing an old Baptist Hymnal this morning (Church Service Hymns, copyright 1948), I was engaged by an interesting responsive reading entitled, "The Woes of Strong Drink."
For those of you without a liturgical church background, a responsive reading is usually printed in the church bulletin as part of the worship service. The first line is read by the pastor or reader and then the whole congregation responds by reading the next line. This can be a very powerful exercise on some topics. Try to imagine me reading the unhighlighted portions and you be the "congregation." Let's do this out loud, OK? Feel free to imagine all your friends, family and co-workers reading along with you. It will make your responses so much more effective. Ready? Here goes:
Hear, thou, my son, and be wise and guide thine heart in the way.
Be not among winebibbers; among riotous eaters of flesh:
For the drunkard and the glutton shall come to poverty: and drowsiness shall clothe a man with rags.
Who hath woe? Who hath sorrow? Who hath contentions? Who hath babbling? Who hath wounds without cause? Who hath redness of eyes?
They that tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine.
Look not upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his color in the cup, when it moveth itself aright.
At last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder.
Thine eyes shall behold strange women, and thine heart shall utter perverse things.
Yea, thou shalt be as he that lieth down in the midst of the sea, or as he that lieth upon the top of a mast.
They have stricken me, shalt thou say, and I was not sick; they have beaten me, and I felt it not: when shall I awake? I will seek it yet again.
Woe unto them that rise up early in the morning, that they may follow strong drink; that continue until night, till wine inflame them.
And the harp, and the viol, and the tabret, and pipe, and wine are in their feasts: but they regard not the work of the Lord, neither consider the operation of His hands.
Woe unto them that are mighty to drink wine, and men of strength to mingle strong drink.
Woe unto him that giveth his neighbor drink, that puttest thy bottle to him and makest him drunken also.
Well, yes, indeed – woe unto the person who would make his neighbor drunk. I think that is a reasonable judgement. Woe – seriously: WOE – don't do it! Don't make people drunk!!! And I don't know if you should be doing it either since winebibbers are all inevitably riotous flesh eaters, too. You don't want that. Am I right?
Naturally, I feel a bit cheated at my modern worship service. I would love to hear the whole congregation, all of us, next Sunday belting out with passion: Thine eyes shall behold strange women and thine heart shall utter perverse things. No, instead we will just focus on Jesus Christ and giving Him our worship and, *sigh, will leave the convictions about strong drink to the Holy Spirit.
A little fun with religion today because I don't like it much, although I am a wholeheartedly devoted follower of Jesus Christ – a friend of sinners and the God who actually saved me. Blessings!…Jeanie
NOTE TO SELF: The Holy Spirit realizes, I am certain, that my very strong, bold, Venti coffee from Starbucks isn't the same as this other stuff…He does, right?…