For the past six months we have added a new part to our worship service as we read the Psalms together as a congregation. One of our intentions in the worship service is to be saturated in God’s Word and the corporate reading of the Scriptures is a powerful way to do just that. We are all full participants in the service called as men, women, and children to be reoriented according to our identities in Christ. This reorienting work doesn’t consist of merely listening to a sermon, it involves praying, confessing, repenting, and actively responding to God’s grace. In other words, it involves participating.
Part of God’s reorienting heart-shaping work of worship isn’t just about hearing the Word proclaimed to us (important as that is!) but also a time to let God’s Word fill our lips. This is one more movement in the service where we remember our roles and pick up our scripts as those united to Christ in faith. Writer Tish Harrison Warren puts it this way,
I like the parts of the worship service when we talk to each other. In historic liturgy this happens most often through the responsive reading of the Scriptures and responsive prayers. In my church we read the Psalms responsively every week. Instead of just one person reading to everyone else . . . we read together, in turns. Back and forth, we share the same sacred sentences. As we join together in responsive prayer or reading, I look at the faces in the congregation: some rapt, some bored, some pained, many weary. We made it through another week. We are being the church, speaking words of life to each other, showing up for each other. Again.
Let us embrace our high calling as a royal priesthood and holy nation (1 Peter 2:9-10) and speak words of life to each other, week after week.