Reading of Scripture
by Dr. Dan Sharp, Minister of Worship
From the earliest records describing the worship of the church, the reading of scripture occupied a most prominent place. One of the earliest documents, The First Apology of Justin Martyr, was written around 155 AD. In it he describes what happened in their worship service in this way, “…and the memoirs of the apostles (New Testament epistles) or the writings of the prophets (Old Testament prophets) are read as long as there is time…” He goes on to describe in some detail the rest of the acts of worship.
The response, “This is the Word of the Lord,” with the accompanying response from the congregation, “Thanks be to God,” occurred very early in the development of the church’s worship practice. In many places the people would stand for the reading of the Gospels out of respect for the scriptures and to affirm that these words were the very words of God. So, the phrase we speak each week further reminds us of our connection to the church of Jesus Christ, down through almost 2,000 years of worship practice.