What We Do When We Do Church – Scripture Readings

2 Timothy 3:16

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.

This devotional series on what happens in liturgical worship continues with “Scripture Readings.” The reading and listening to God’s Holy Word is what God’s people do and have been doing for millennia.

The previous devotions in this series are:

Part 1 – Hymnody
Part 2 – Invocation
Part 3 – Baptism
Part 4 – Confession of Sins
Part 5 – Absolution
Part 6 – Introit / Psalmody
Part 7 – Kyrie
Part 8 – Hymn of Praise

Starting with Moses reading to Israel the “Law of God” in the wilderness, continuing with Joshua also reading to Israel the “Law of God” after the victory over Jericho and Ai, and throughout the history of Israel and flowing into the history of the Christian Church, the Word of God has been read to God’s people and heard by God’s people.

These words read from the Bible are not man’s words, but God’s Word – which is why, in the Divine Service, the conclusion of the reading of Holy Scripture ends with the phrase, “This is the Word of the Lord!”

In the readings from Scripture we hear how God planned to save us through the coming of His Son. We also hear how the people of God are to respond to this salvation through their words and very lives. And we also hear from the Son of God Himself as He teaches us how to live the life He died and rose again to give us.

Today, the Church tends to read a portion of the Old Testament for the first reading, a portion of an Epistle for the second reading, and a portion of one of the Gospels for the third reading.

Many churches now use a “three year” series of readings that will cover most of the three “synoptic” Gospels – Matthew, Mark, and Luke – along with a related portion of the Old Testament. Sometimes the Epistle reading will also relate, but other times it will be a series of readings meant to hear the “voice” of the writer (usually St. Paul) teach the Church the ways of Christ.

The Gospel of John is used prominently during Easter and also is featured throughout the year no matter what series of readings the church happens to be in.

While the entire liturgical worship service is made up of God’s Word or based on God’s Word, the Scripture readings are where we hear God speak most clearly to us.

That doesn’t mean we’ll always understand fully what God is saying to us, which is why the sermon is also an important part of the worship service, and that will be the topic of the next devotion.


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