Remember the Emperor?

There once was a king who, anticipating a special event, ordered two local weavers to prepare him a new set of royal robes for the occasion. The men promised that the suit would be so fine that anyone unworthy or incompetent would not even be able to see it. On the appointed day the two men arrived at the palace with the emperor's new costume. The king stood in front of the mirror as the weavers made a great show of clothing him in his new garments, making obsequious comments about how splendid their ruler looked. They tweaked a little here and tucked a little there. Then they stood back in admiration of their handiwork. The king was astonished. In the mirror all he could see was his royal person dressed in the usual undergarments. But since anyone who was unworthy or incompetent was incapable of seeing the suit, and the weavers obviously saw it, the emperor bit his lip and keep his doubts to himself.

The moment came, and the emperor strode out of his palace to make his way through the adoring crowd of his subjects. He mistook the stunned silence upon his appearance for amazement at the splendor of his new wardrobe. That was until a small child in the crowd innocently said aloud: "But he isn't wearing anything at all!"*

It might be a huge leap of logic but I thought about this story the other day as I read through the Scriptures I was asked to read yesterday during the Sunday service. We were taught that to facilitate the public reading of the Word of God, the reader should announce the Scripture reference and then pause to allow the congregation to find that passage in their own Bibles. The reader was to wait until the rustling of pages stopped and then begin to read. I have come to realize, after having led in the readings several times, that there is very little rustling of pages anymore. Most people have stopped bringing their Bibles to church.

Blame that on what you will: Laziness, unfamiliarity with the Bible and how to find anything in it, technology that gives us the option of having the passage displayed for us, or the lack of expository preaching which removes any reason to search the Scriptures during the sermon time.

But not bringing a Bible to church reminded me of that emperor appearing in public without his clothes on.

What do you think?

*Story by Hans Christian Andersen


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