Monday, March 1, 2010

Niki Smith, Reader ministry

I didn’t want to be that shy, quiet girl any longer. So when my family moved to St. Petersburg I took a public speaking course at Northeast High School. I was a junior.

Little did I realize that 30 years later I would hear the call to read God’s word at Sunday Mass.

I prepare for each reading by studying the passage – both silently and aloud – and by reading all the commentaries that explain the meaning of the passages. It helps to speak slowly and put emphasis on certain key words. Some emotion is good, but I am proclaiming God’s word, not acting.

I always pray before stepping up on the altar. I feel that God is using me as the vessel, pouring His word through me. My voice but His word. It is so worth it if just one person hears His word and acts upon it.

In my early days of reading, just making it back to your seat alive was an accomplishment – sweaty palms, heart pounding , weak knees. I had fears of unpronounceable names and places, lost pages, last minute Mass changes.

Once, years ago, I stood before the congregation ready to begin the reading but it was the wrong one. I flipped the book forward, then backward. Could not find the right one. What to do? Looked over at Father Smith. Thankfully he stood up and came over to try his luck. After what seemed at eternity, he found the passage! I smiled, thanked him, and began the reading. What else can you do?

Another time I was asked to read five minutes before Mass began. No time to prepare! A quick prayer and I made it through another reading.

This ministry is special to me: beauty of the written word, poetry, power of God’s word, hearing God’s word, call to action, proclaiming His word for all to hear.         
And it all started with a desire to step out of my comfort zone.

I get to read God’s word at Sunday Mass before friends, family, and believers at St. Raphael’s Church.  I proclaim His word for all to hear. I feel his powerful message.
 On Sunday, I pray my prayer, stand and fold my hands, bow, and step up on the altar.

Niki Smith has been a reader at St. Raphael Parish for 10 years.

If you’re interested:
Please stop by the church office if you would like to join the Reader ministry.

Photo by Jane Winstead

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