God’s Word Proclaimed!
After the choir and ministers are in place we exchange the ancient greeting “The Lord be with you.” This is done with the whole congregation and begins the central portion of the liturgy of the Word of God and introduces the Collect of the day. The word “collect” comes from the Latin “collecta,” and it means the “gathering up” or the “collecting” of something. In the early Church, as the service began the members of the congregation would offer petitions of prayer. The priest would silently listen his people and from their needs would compose in his heart a short “summary” prayer. Over time many of these prayers were written down. The collection of collects in the Prayer Book cover the full 2000 years of the Church’s liturgical history.
Now the people sit for the readings from Holy Scripture. The Prayer Book as a Lectionary (BCP: 887-931) and follow a three-year cycle of A, B, and C. Each cycle uses a specific Gospel: Matthew, Mark, and Luke, with John’s Gospel interspersed each year for certain days and feasts. The Lectionary for Sundays is composed of four readings. They are the Old Testament, the Psalms, the New Testament and the Holy Gospel.
After the reading of God’s Word is complete the sermon follows. It should be said here that sermons are not meant to be inspirational talks or motivational talks but they are meant to break open the Word of God so people may be spiritually fed. Sermons are not interruptions of our worship but they are an integral part of it. St. Paul teaches that our faith grows as we hear and inwardly digest the Word of God. (Rom 10: 17)
At the close of the sermon the congregation stands for the corporate recitation of the Nicene Creed. This Creed is used at every celebration of the Holy Eucharist with a few exceptions when the Apostles’ Creed is used. The Nicene Creed is the summary of our biblical faith and was composed by the councils of Nicea and Constantinople in the 4th century. (BCP, p 852)
The Creed’s “theological progression” moves us from the Book of Genesis to the close of the Book of Revelation. At the heart of the Creed is our faith in the mystery of Jesus Christ as true God and true man and the truth of our redemption in Christ. Its liturgical use on Sunday and major feasts (BCP, p 358) is a sign of the unity of the Church and a renewal of our covenant with God.