More from Narrative Commentary on the Divine Service by John Pless. Notice how we hear from a prophet, an apostle, and an evangelist every Sunday:
SALUTATION, COLLECT – (p. 189)
The pastor stands in the congregation as Christ’s servant. The vestment he wears indicates that he is not speaking on his own, but as one sent and authorized to represent Christ Jesus. As the authorized representative of the Lord, he says “The Lord be with you.” The congregation responds “And with your Spirit” or “And also with you.” Pastor and the congregation are bound together in this salutation or greeting as the pastor prays the Collect of the Day on behalf of the gathered congregation. The Collect is a short sentence that “collects” in one short request all it is that we are asking God to do for us on the basis of the Word which we are about to hear, both read and preached.
OLD TESTAMENT READING, GRADUAL, EPISTLE, VERSE, HOLY GOSPEL
In Ephesians 4, the Apostle Paul tells us that the Ascended Christ gave gifts to His Church: Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, and Pastor-Teachers. These gifts are made manifest in the Divine Service as we hear God’s Word read and proclaimed. First, we hear from a Prophet in the words of the Old Testament Reading. After the Scripture is read, The Pastor or Assisting Elder proclaims “This is the Word of the Lord.” The Lord’s Word is embraced by the congregation’s response of thanksgiving: “Thanks be to God.” In this way, the church confesses Holy Scripture for what it is-–the Word of God. The Gradual, selected verses of Scripture, is sung by the choir or congregation. The Gradual is a “bridge of praise” that links the Old Testament with the New Testament. On many occasions an Anthem refl ecting on the common theme of the readings is sung by the choir. This is offered so that those who hear might anticipate the Word of God that will follow. Second, we hear from an Apostle in the words of a New Testament Epistle. From the Apostle we are given the truth that is found only in Jesus for faith and life. The “Alleluia Verse” is then chanted by the Choir or Cantor. This Verse is our anticipation of the Lord who comes to us in His words. These words are spirit and life. Third, we hear from an Evangelist in the words of the Holy Gospel. In the words of the Evangelist we are given the Word of Life, Jesus Christ. The congregation acknowledges the Lord’s presence in His Gospel by standing and extolling His glory and praising Him.