The “pomp” comes from Greek for a solemn procession while “circumstance” refers to the details surrounding an event. We associate the phrase quickly with graduations, but it goes further.
I miss the bit of ‘pomp and circumstance’ that surrounded church services when I was a teen. The sanctuary was not used for much except worship services and we entered it quietly, with reverence. Of course, we had a separate choir room, so practices were not held there and we had a sufficient supply of classrooms, so it didn’t have to be used as one. Worship services, weddings, funerals – those were when the sanctuary was used.
I miss the structure of the King James Bible, too, when reading some of the newer versions. A recent blog (a very, very good article, too) used the following reference:
Jesus now called the Twelve and gave them authority and power to deal with all the demons and cure diseases. He commissioned them to preach the news of God's kingdom and heal the sick. He said, "Don't load yourselves up with equipment. Keep it simple; you are the equipment. And no luxury inns—get a modest place and be content there until you leave. If you're not welcomed, leave town. Don't make a scene. Shrug your shoulders and move on." (Luke 9:1-5 MSG)Then he called his twelve disciples together, and gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases. And he sent them to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick. And he said unto them, Take nothing for your journey, neither staves, nor scrip, neither bread, neither money; neither have two coats apiece. And whatsoever house ye enter into, there abide, and thence depart. And whosoever will not receive you, when ye go out of that city, shake off the very dust from your feet for a testimony against them. (Luke 9:1-5 KJV)
The message is similar, we get the gist in both versions. But the newer loses the powerful image of literally shaking off the dust of that entire city. A shoulder shrug leaves me with the image of a “Whatever,” attitude. Substituting “equipment” for money, bread, clothing or a walking staff doesn’t do it either. My Beloved Husband work construction. “Equipment” in my storage banks is a picture of bulldozers, backhoes and scrapers.
A “modest place”? There were inns back in Jesus’ day. Remember, Joseph couldn’t find room in one for his pregnant wife? Why use “luxury inns” when Luke used the Greek οἰκία which is a residence, by implication a family home? I like what Wikipedia says about the word: In Attic law, οἶκος (oikos, “house”) was all the property left by a person, while οἰκία was the house on that property.
Words matter. What we associate with those words matter. The pictures they invoke matter. Pomp and circumstance matters, too, or we would not have graduation services, weddings or inaugurations. We don’t do these things on a daily basis – they are special.
Going into our Lord’s house, the reading of His word – these should remain special, too.