“Your word is a lantern to my feet and a light upon my path.” (Psalm 119:105)
As the congregation symbolically comes to worship in the procession of the Choir and worship leaders, the hymn of praise ends with the Invocation. This opening prayer is the intentional request that the presence of the Holy Spirit be in our midst. It is were we “invoke” God to come and be among us. We believe that God is always with us, but in worship we recognize the presence of God in a very special way and our attentiveness to God’s presence.
As one takes their seat in the Nave, or what we know call the Sanctuary, you will see in front a lectern on your left and a pulpit on your right. “Lectern” comes from the Latin word “to read.” From this lectern is read Holy Scripture. The Gospel, Greek for “the Good News,” is the story of the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. The Gospel is not read from here, but is read from the middle of the Sanctuary. This symbolizes three things: first, the Gospel of Jesus is to be the heart of the community, remembering that the heart is central to giving life to the body. “The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life” (John 6:63). Secondly, it reminds us that Jesus still comes to be among His disciples as teacher (see Matthew 18:20). Thirdly, carrying the Gospel out to the people reminds us that we too must carry the Gospel out into the world. “Go out to the whole world; proclaim the good news to all creation” (Mark 16:15).
After each of the two lessons the reader says, “The Word of the Lord.” To this the congregation responds, “Thanks be to God!” More than an automatic response, this acclamation of the people confirms their agreement that what we have just spoken is, in fact, the Truth of God. The Gospel retains an emphasis of being the words of Christ as the Minister proclaims it to be “…the Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ.” The people offer their allegiance and loyalty to Christ as they respond, “Praise be to Thee, Lord Christ!”