There is a great old cartoon called The 2000 Year Old Man in which a man who is 2000 years old is interviewed about his long and historic life. At the end of the interview the man is asked what is the greatest invention that he has seen in during his lifetime? The assumed answer is the telephone or the car or the plane or even the exploration of outer space. Yet, his surprising response is saran wrap; a largely forgotten item found in most kitchens, which is handy, but would hardly ever be considered great.
Well today, the Christian Church is not 2000 years old; but the question comes today as to what is the greatest invention in the history of the Church? This answer certainly is prone to change, but in a culture today in which people have Bibles that they do not read, and hymnals that they do not sing out of; the greatest invention must be declared to be the bulletin insert.
The bulletin insert is that thing which in most churches includes the three readings for that particular Sunday, as well as an introit (Psalm) and a collect (prayer) for the day. This simple, often forgotten item, that is more often found stuffed into the back of the hymnal, is by far the greatest invention in the Church today.
Now as a pastor, one must hate the insert. The readings for the day are meant to be
heard by the congregation, not followed along on some piece of paper. And the introit could just as easily be read out of the hymnal from the Psalms included. And the collect should again be prayed, not followed along with.
BUT, the reality is that the insert has the potential for more good during the week then the evil it provides on Sunday morning. The readings printed on the insert can easily be read and meditated upon each day of the week. The collect applies to the entire week, not just Sunday morning. And the introit can easily be included with the daily devotions.
A simple formula could be to us one of the readings each day of the week: the Old Testament reading on Monday and Thursday; the Epistle on Tuesday and Friday; and the Gospel on Wednesday and Saturday. The collect and the introit can then be prayed together with the reading every day of the week.
The reality is that the theme for Sunday is the theme of the Church for the entire week.
The readings, the sermon, the hymns, the prayers all of it applies to everyday of the week. And yet, many see what happens on Sunday morning as completely separate from the events of the rest of the week. The congregation needs something to take with them from Sunday morning to remind them that what happens on Sunday flows through the rest of the week. What better item to do that, then the bulletin insert?