Liturgy: Word of God

The Word of the Lord

Collect of the Day

Collect (accent on the first syllable) is a word for prayer which “collects” intentions, sets a theme for the readings of the day.

Scripture Lessons

Reading scripture during a service is based on ancient forms of Jewish worship. After each reading we allow a period of silence to respond inwardly to the words in thought and prayer.

  • Old Testament Reading
    What we call “Old Testament” is in fact the Hebrew Scriptures which Jesus and his disciples would have heard and studied. Christians call this the Old Testament (or old covenant) referring to God’s first promise to Israel through Abraham. “New Testament” refers to the New Covenant or promise made by God to humanity through Jesus.
  • Gradual Psalm
    Psalms are ancient Hebrew hymns Christians and Jews have sung for thousands of years. “Gradual” from the Latin word “step” is attached to the name of this Psalm since it was sung as the reader walked down the steps to where the lesson would be read.
  • New Testament (Epistle)
    These reading are mostly from letters (or Epistles) written by Paul and other evangelists offering comfort or instruction to the newly formed Christian churches. Many of their issues are familiar to us today.
  • Sequence Hymn
    This hymn allows time for the Gospel reader and acolytes to get in place. Hymns are an important part of the service, chosen thematically to reflect the readings where possible providing theology, prayer, and praise in poetry and music.
  • Gospel
    (From old English words “God Spell” meaning “good news.”)
    This last reading comes from one of the four narratives of Jesus’ life and ministry. A three year cycle allows us to focus on a different Gospel: Year A for Matthew, B for Mark and C for Luke. John is used at different times throughout the three years.
  • Sermon
    Having heard lessons from scripture the preacher seeks to proclaim God’s love reflected in these texts, applying them as much as possible to current issues in the church and the World.

Nicene Creed

The early Christian church nearly divided over substantial disagreements in theology about the person of Jesus and the relationship between God the Creator, the Son and the Holy Spirit. To resolve these differences the Emperor Constantine called a convocation of the Bishops in the year 325 AD to the city of Nicea. After much controversy the statement of beliefs they crafted became known to future generations as the Nicene Creed. The word “creed” is from the Latin word “Credo” which means “I believe.” This Creed has been recited by Christians ever since as a response to the Word of the Lord. Another similar Creed used by the Church is known as the Apostles Creed and is used at Baptisms and other daily prayer services.

Prayers of the People

Another response to the Word of the Lord is prayer. Our Prayer Book contains six forms offering a variety of methods, but each contains petitions regarding the Church and the world, those who have died and a general call for personal petitions. Each form allows for periods of silence during which the members of the congregation may offer their own prayers either silently or aloud. You are encouraged to offer your prayers aloud so that members of the community may support each other.

Concluding Collect

The celebrant gathers or “collects” the prayers of the faithful with one concluding prayer usually chosen from BCP p. 394-395. During this time in our nation’s history and the uncertainty of war we have chosen to conclude with a special prayer for peace taken from prayers assembled by the Episcopal Network for Peace and Justice.


Having heard the Word of God, affirmed our faith using the Creed and offered prayers for our various needs and concerns, we take a moment to prepare ourselves for communion through confession. After the invitation to “Confess our sins against God and our neighbor”, a moment of silence is offered to gather our thoughts about how we understand sin in our lives and take stock of that for which we are truly sorry and hope to correct or make amends. Confession has two main parts: identifying the sin and the intention to address it. While we recite the words together in a general form, it is intended that in our hearts, we reveal the particular intentions to God.

Though the posture for confession is generally kneeling as directed in the Penitential Order on BCP p. 351, it is not uncommon for people to stand. Kneeling emphasizes the individual inner examination while standing emphasizes the outward connection to others confessing. The choice is an individual one and no one should be uncomfortable if their posture differs from anyone near them.

Passing the Peace

Matthew 5: 23-24 says “If you are offering your gift at the altar, and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go, first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift.” Passing the peace is the enacting of this verse and a liturgical observance of reconciliation. The appropriate method is shaking hands, an embrace, or a kiss with those immediately around you. It is also important to be sensitive to those who may not be comfortable with these methods.

Next: The Holy Communion

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