Including readings from the Old and New Testaments ensures that the unity and completeness of God’s revelation are proclaimed. The typical pattern is as follows:
- a reading from the Old Testament (or Acts during the Season of Easter);
- the Psalm is a response to the first reading, ideally sung;
- a reading from the New Testament epistles or Revelation;
- and the Gospel Reading, proclaiming the church’s witness to the life, teaching, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Before the reading:
Hear the Word of the Lord.
After the reading:
The Word of the Lord,
Thanks be to God.
Notes adapted from Supplemental Liturgical Resource 1 (WJKP, 1984).
Excerpt from Worshiping God Together: A Guide for Children and Their Parents:
We read from the Bible to remember God’s mighty acts in history, to discover what God is doing in our world, and to look forward to the future God has promised. There are different kinds of writing in the Bible — stories, songs, laws, letters, wisdom, dreams. All of it is God’s Word for us today. That is why when the reader says, “The Word of the Lord,” we respond, “Thanks be to God.”
Directory for Worship
The church confesses the Scriptures to be the Word of God written, witnessing to God’s self-revelation. Where that Word is read and proclaimed, Jesus Christ the Living Word is present by the inward witness of the Holy Spirit. For this reason the reading, hearing, preaching, and confessing of the Word are central to Christian worship. The session shall ensure that in public worship the Scripture is read and proclaimed regularly in the common language(s) of the particular church.
The minister of the Word and Sacrament is responsible for the selection of Scripture to be read in all services of public worship and should exercise care so that over a period of time the people will hear the full message of Scripture. It is appropriate that in the Service of the Lord’s Day there be readings from the Old Testament and the Epistles and Gospels of the New Testament. The full range of the psalms should be also used in worship.
Selections for reading in public worship should be guided by the seasons of the church year, pastoral concerns for a local congregation, events and conditions in the world, and specific program emphases of the church. Lectionaries offered by the church ensure a broad range of readings as well as consistency and connection with the universal Church.
The people of God should exercise this same principle of selection in their choice of Scripture reading in family and personal worship. (W-5.3000) Those responsible for teaching and preaching the Word have a special responsibility to ensure that in their personal worship they observe a discipline of reading from the fullness of Scripture.
The minister of the Word and Sacrament has responsibility for the selection of the version of text from which the Scripture lessons are read in public worship. If paraphrases are used, adaptations are made, or new translations are prepared, the congregation should be informed.
The public reading of Scripture should be clear, audible, and attentive to the meanings of the text, and should be entrusted to those prepared for such reading. Listening to the reading of Scripture requires expectation and concentration and may be aided by the availability of a printed text for the worshipers. The congregation may read Scripture responsively, antiphonally, or in unison as a part of the service. (W-3.3401)
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Book of Order, W-2.2001–.2006
Scripture lessons suitable for the day are read by a minister, by a member of the congregation, or by the people responsively, antiphonally, or in unison. (W-2.2006)
Psalms or anthems, and other musical forms or artistic expression which proclaim or interpret the Scripture lessons or their themes, may be included with the reading lessons.