Category Archives: Reading Scripture

Opening the Door to Holy Week

When I arrived at First Church, I noticed a sign on the inside of the “front” door – the original main entrance to the church, before the parking lot was added, and people started using the “back” entrance as the main door of the church. The sign said, “Do Not Open This Door.” Not even “please leave this door closed.” Do. Not. Open. This. Door.

I preached about it. I asked the congregation to consider the implications of that sign. What did it say, not only to the community on the other side of the door, but to us on the inside? I mentioned it in Trustee meetings and Council meetings. It’s been a year and a half, and last Sunday, I asked if we could open the door for Palm Sunday and Easter, as a sign of radical hospitality to the many people who drive past our church on Sunday mornings. Continue reading

Instant Response: A Biblical Mash-Up

Traditionally, the response in worship to a reading from the Old Testament is the recitation or singing of a psalm. So it’s no surprise when the psalm chosen for a given Sunday reflects the Old Testament reading in some way. But what happens when you realize that a good chunk of the psalm for the third Sunday in Lent fits into an abridged version of the Ten Commandments, the text for the day? This litany, that’s what.

LITANY from Exodus 20 and Psalm 19

LEADER:
God spoke from the mountain and said: “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; you shall have no other gods before me.”

PEOPLE:
The precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart.

LEADER:
“You shall not make for yourself an idol.”

PEOPLE:
The commandment of the LORD is clear, enlightening the eyes.

LEADER:
“You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God.”

PEOPLE:
The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul.

LEADER:
“Remember the Sabbath day, and keep it holy.”

PEOPLE:
The decrees of the LORD are sure, making wise the simple.

LEADER:
“Honor your father and your mother.”

PEOPLE:
The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever.

LEADER:
“You shall not murder.”

PEOPLE:
The ordinances of the LORD are true and righteous altogether.

LEADER:
“You shall not commit adultery.”

PEOPLE:
More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey, and drippings of the honeycomb.

LEADER:
“You shall not steal.”

PEOPLE:
Moreover by your commands is your servant warned;
in keeping them there is great reward.

LEADER:
“You shall not bear false witness.”

PEOPLE:
But who can detect their errors? Clear me from hidden faults.

LEADER:
“You shall not covet … anything that belongs to your neighbor.”

PEOPLE:
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.

ALL: Almighty God, write your law upon our hearts.

A Prayer Before Reading Scripture

Lord, we don’t ask much, just enough.
This text we are about to read is so rich, so full, it’s a feast of words.
We can’t consume it all –
if we tried, it would go straight to our hips as fat stored for a leaner time.
So give us just enough, Lord.
Help us to hear your Word with hungry ears,
and nourish us with what you want us to gain from it now,
so that when we return to these words again and again,
our spirits may be satisfied, as with the richest of foods.
We ask this in the name of your Son Jesus, Amen.