I wish to lift up the case for the importance of reflecting on the liturgy as part of our thinking and reflecting about the Book of Faith. Worship in the Christian assembly is first and foremost, biblical! We are reminded by the ELCA’s statement on the practice of word and sacrament, The Use of the Means of Grace, that “the public reading of the Holy Scriptures is an indispensable part of worship…” (Principle 7). The use of the Revised Common Lectionary, providing three readings and a psalm (for singing) for every Sunday and festival, is an important way to keep this use of scripture central in our worship assemblies. Think about the message we might (unintentionally) send by truncating the Word in worship. The goal of this robust service of the Word in our eucharistic assemblies is “hearing the breadth of the scriptures, and the evangelical meaning of the church year” (UMG, Application 7A). We might think about ways to further make the ritual point of the centrality of the Book of Faith in our worship. One way, might be to make use of a Bible or lectionary of appropriate size and dignity by those who read scripture in public worship. As a Book of Faith church, at Churchwide Assembly worship this summer, we will proclaim the scripture readings from a beautifully bound, large, hand-illuminated St. John’s Bible that will be on loan to us.
There is more. The Book of Faith, the Bible, grounds not only the part of the Holy Communion service we call “Word”, and not only the words of liturgical texts, but also the patterns and actions of worship. The scriptures entirely guide the church’s liturgical proclamation of the gospel and use of the sacraments. I would suggest that a great Book of Faith exercise for a group would be to study the section in Evangelical Lutheran Worship titled, Scripture and Worship, found on pages 1154-1159 in the assembly edition. For those who wish to go deeper, the Worship and Liturgical Resources section has a wonderful training module called Scripture Shapes the Assembly. If you are interested in using this module in your Book of Faith conversations, you can contact the ELCA worship staff at firstname.lastname@example.org.