One problem is that we rarely observe the liturgy of the Word and the liturgy of the table together. On the one hand, if you go to mainline Protestant services, the liturgy of the Word is eviscerated by the lack of sound teaching, even if communion is observed. Sermons are extremely short and grace is not taught against the backdrop of God's holiness and judgment. Thus, the glory of Christ is not seen, for God's glory is seen in Jesus when the gospel is proclaimed against the background of the law. We see this in Exodus 33:18-23 and 34:4-8 when Moses asks to see the Lord's glory. The Lord shows him his glory by preaching a sermon, so to speak, that focuses on the Lord's grace against the background of his judgment. The same truth is taught in the New Testament when we read, "and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth" (John 1:14 ). God's grace against the backdrop of God's justice or truth is what helps us to see God's glory by faith, but this missing in mainline services, as well as in other branches of the church that depart from the gospel. On the other hand, in Evangelical and Reformed churches, we rarely have the Supper, even when the teaching is true to the New Testament and God's glory is seen in Christ resulting in worship.
- Historical Writings
- Preaching/Teaching known as Midrash
It is easy to see, then, that the early church truly had a liturgy of the Word! The Word was read in big chunks from both Testaments. In Augustine's church Scripture reading would last for an hour as would the sermon. But, today in Evangelical and Reformed churches it is almost impossible to find a regular Old Testament reading. Scripture reading as an element of the service has been reduced to what is necessary for preaching.
It used to be that our congregational prayer/pastoral prayer/prayers of the people included the following:
- praise to God for what he has done, including creation, redemption, and specific acts of faithfulness to our community;
- petitions for creation and its care, the nations, leaders in various areas of life;
- our community and its leaders;
- the church universal and its mission;
- the local congregation(s) and its ministry;
- those with particular needs in the church;