The Liturgy of the Word

The Collect(s)

The lessons are preceded by a prayer called the collect. The collect is introduced with the Apostolic Greeting. (“The Lord be with you.” “And with thy Spirit.”) This verse and response is found in the earliest liturgies and follows the biblical custom (cf. Ruth 2:4) of greeting one another in the name of the Lord.

The collects are addressed to God the Father. An attribute or aspect of God’s person or work is recalled. A petition is made. And the prayer is offered through the person of Jesus Christ. Some collects are offered directly to Christ. There will be more than one collect when there is an octave (an eight day celebration of a feast) when two or more feasts occur on the same day or when there is seasonal collect to be said after the collect for the day (Advent and Lent).

The Epistle and Gospel

The epistle is read from the right (traditionally south) end of the altar. Hence this side of the altar is called the epistle side. It is ancient tradition to have a gospel procession in which the gospel book is carried from the sanctuary (the front part of the church within the communion rail where the altar is) to the nave (the main body of the church where the people sit). This symbolizes Christ’s bringing of the gospel to the people. When there is no gospel procession a remnant of it remains in the moving of the book from the right side of the altar to the left (traditionally north) end of the altar. Hence the left side of the altar is called the Gospel side.

The lessons speak to the whole Church but they also have something to say to each worshiper. Try to discern what God is saying to you each week through the lessons. Come to church expecting that God will speak to you. The lessons will have greater impact if you are in the habit of reading the Bible in a disciplined manner during the week.