Why So Much Scripture?
One of the most common reflections we hear on our worship from visitors is how much Scripture is read. Most of the time this is said with a sense of happy surprise. We have a first reading that takes us through a book of the Bible (what is called lectio continua reading), a Psalm or two as we work through the Psalter once every three years, and the sermon text as we preach through a book of the Bible. That’s not to mention the liturgical elements that are all taken from God’s Word—the call to worship, confession of sin, assurance of pardon, benediction, and some of our singing which are Psalms set to music. Why so much Scripture?
First, it’s because Scripture is the very Word of God. We are gathered together by God in order to hear from God. Pastor Nathan and I have nothing to offer you in our own wisdom. It is not our word that you need. It is not worldly wisdom that will satisfy you. Nothing we say of ourselves has any authority. It cannot hold out any promise of salvation or judgment. Our words, uttered in our own wisdom, offer you no real hope. But when we read and expound God’s Word, the power is not in us but in the Holy Spirit speaking through that Word. God speaks by his Spirit through his Word. And for this reason, we are bound by our ordination, which comes from God, to feed you upon as much of that Word as we can each Sunday. Jesus, as our Great Shepherd, feeds us on green grass by still waters. Nathan, your elders, and I are under-shepherds and as such, we gladly lead you into the fields our Great Shepherd has provided. We feed you on God’s Word.
Second, in this day and age, Sunday is often the only time people hear (or read) the Word of God. Most of us have access to it throughout the week, and we know we should be in it often, but we often fail. Reading and hearing on Sunday morning can never approach the exposure to the Word that regular daily reading as a family or individual can during the week. We should continue to seek after God in his Word daily. But inasmuch as it is in our power, it is the Session’s desire to cover the congregation in God’s Word each Sunday. In church history, when Scripture was not easily available to church members, either because they were illiterate or because books were too expensive, Sunday worship was often their only opportunity to hear God’s Word and learn it. We are blessed to have it in our homes close at hand. Let us rejoice in that and take advantage of it! In the meantime, our worship at All Saints will always be marked by much hearing of the Word of God.
Third, for everyone present, member and visitor alike, the unavoidable fact that our worship includes so much Holy Scripture makes a clear statement: God speaks in this place. God is the authority in this congregation. It leaves the impression—one that we hope is true!—that our congregation is hungry for the Word. Whatever else a visitor or unbeliever may think about our worship, there will be no question that we all have our faces upturned to hear from God in his Word. This is where our only and truest hope resides: in the God who speaks.
Your fellow servant of Christ,