Prayer: Almighty God, in You are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Open our eyes that we may see the wonders of Your word; and give us grace that we may clearly understand and freely choose the way of Your wisdom; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen (PCC-USA “The Service for the Lord’s Day” Westminster Press, 1984. Prayer #109).
Read: 1 Timothy 4: 9 - 16
When the four Scriptures are read in church, they are each introduced with “This is a reading from the ….Old Testament…. Epistles… Gospel” The reader also tells the congregation which Book of the Bible is being read plus informing us of the Chapter and the verses. Sometimes the Leader will tell a bit about the Scripture before they begin reading.
Then the Leader will say, “Hear the Word of the Lord”. We, as a congregation, listen to the words being read. But what happens if our minds drift? That is when it is handy to read along with the Reader. Pull out the Bible from the pew rack and read along.
Today at the ending of each reading, the Reader will say, “This is the Word of the Lord”.
I am an old geezer in the Presbyterian Church and like the 1964 response which was, “The Lord bless to us the reading of His Holy Word”. Why the different? One response is stating that this IS the Word of the Lord. The older response states that the reading of scripture is a blessing.
The Psalm is usually said responsively… with the leader and congregation alternating verses. Some Churches today use a sung refrain. The refrain is sung to help illuminate the Psalm (remember that the Psalm are the prayers of God’s chosen people!).
The Epistle is read next. The Epistles are the books of the young Christian Church. These are letters from Paul and Peter and John to the young Christian communities in cities across the World. Each of these young Christian communities needed instruction on how to mature in their faith. We too today also need to listen to the reading of the Epistles so that we can mature in our faith.
Then finally the Gospel is read. The Gospel is always read last as it reminds us the Christ is the Good News. This is the only portion of scripture in which the congregation may/will stand. Some other denominations such as Orthodox Christians, take the Bible around the Church and hold the Bible up high so that everyone can see the Good News of God. This is called the Greater Entry. Some denominations such as Anglicans and Lutherans stand up for the reading of the Gospel. Why do they stand you ask? Not because their backsides are sore from sitting but out of respect for the Good News of Christ.
After the Gospel lesson is read, the “new” (1991) response to the reading of the Gospel is, “Praise to You, O Lord”. The “old” (1964) response to the reading of the Gospel is, “The Lord bless to us the reading of His Holy Word, and to His name be glory and praise”. Call me an old geezer, but I still love hearing that the reading and hearing of God’s word is a blessing to us all. J
Prayer: Blessed Lord, who caused all Holy Scriptures to be written for our learning, grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which You have given us in our Saviour Jesus Christ. (PCC-USA, “The Service of the Lord’s Day” Westminster Press, 1984, Prayer #111).