The Order of Worship: Scripture Reading
Of all the things we do in worship each Sunday, reading God’s Word may be among the greatest. As we have said before, in corporate worship we are in dialogue with God. He speaks to his people, and we respond. And in no purer way does God speak than in the very words he inspired. For this reason, our worship is filled with the reading of God’s Word. We’ve already considered the Psalm reading. We also read the sermon text all the way through before beginning the sermon. This week, I want to highlight the First Scripture Lesson.
After our Prayer of Invocation, we read a Scripture text each week. This text is a lectio continua reading of a book of the Bible. That means we read the whole book, from first to last, one section at a time, over a period of weeks or months. We generally read from the opposite testament from our sermon text. Right now, we are preaching through Matthew, so our First Scripture Reading is from Ezra. We will read through Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther, since these three books are from the end of the period of exile in Babylon and Persia.
The practice of lectio continua reading is among the oldest patterns of corporate worship in the Church. It has the advantage of feeding more of God’s Word to the congregation over time than if we simply read the sermon text. Between our sermon text readings, lectio continua readings, and Psalm readings, we cover large sections of Scripture over time.
Christ asked Peter three times to feed his sheep. We fulfill this calling as under-shepherds of Christ in no greater way than reading the Scripture to God’s people in corporate worship. Because we have been loved by Christ—because Christ has loved you—we delight to feed you well on his Word.
Next week we will consider the Confession of Sin, Meditation, and Assurance of Pardon—liturgical acts in which we are reminded of the truth that God is faithful to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
I hope to see you Sunday!