Monday, 27 January 2014

Reading of the Law

The liturgies of the Reformed church regularly included the reading of the ten commandments.  This could be placed before the prayer of confession, to awaken a true sense of sin, or after this prayer, to give us a guide to Christian conduct in response to God's grace experienced in the cleansing of sin.  The Scottish reformed liturgy of Knox placed the reading of the Law before the prayer of confession of sin and our seeking for forgiveness through Christ's sacrifice for our sin.

In the past, while serving in the OPC, we used various forms for the reading of the Law.  Borrowing from and adapting the liturgy of the CRC we had a set of readings of the whole Law.  One had responses from the Psalms, another from the Words of Christ, and yet another from the NT Epistles.  We used these "whole Law" readings every second week.  In between these weeks we worked our way through individual commandments, using responsive readings adapted from the Shorter & Larger Catechism and the Heidelberg Catechism.  So the pattern would be: week 1, whole Law; week 2, first commandment; week 3, whole Law; week 4, second commandment, etc.

Using this pattern we were regularly exposed to the whole Law, and saw that it was an essential part of OT piety, the righteousness of Christ, and NT piety.  We also faced the searching exposition of individual commandments through the traditional Reformed catechisms. I will, as time permits, put these readings online.

On a recent Sunday in our own congregation of the Free Church of Scotland we used a responsive reading adapted from the Anglican Church in Nigeria.  This had a different format.  Each commandment was supplemented by other biblical verses and read by the preacher.  The responses asked God to have mercy on us, (we have broken these commandments) and to enable us to obey each commandment and gratitude for his grace in salvation.

The Ten Commandments

Our Lord Jesus Christ said: If you love me, Keep my commandments; (Jn. 14:15 ). Happy are those who hear the word of God and keep it (Lk. 11:28 ).  Hear then these commandments which God has given to His people, and take them to heart.
I am the Lord your God; you shall have no other gods but me (Ex. 20:2, 3 ). You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength (Deut. 6.4,5 ; Mt. 22:37 ).
All:   Lord, have mercy upon us, and incline our hearts to keep this law.

Minister: You shall not make for yourself any idol (Ex 20:4 ).  God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and in truth (Jn. 4:24 ).
All:   Lord, have mercy upon us, and incline our hearts to keep this law.

Minister : You shall not dishonour the name of the Lord your God (Exod. 20:7 ). You shall worship Him with awe and reverence (Heb. 12:28 ).
All:   Lord, have mercy upon us, and incline our hearts to keep this law.

Minister: Remember the Lord’s day and keep it holy (Ex. 20:8 ). Christ is risen from the dead (1 Cor. 15:20 ): set your minds on things that are above not on things that are on earth (Col. 3:2 )
All:   Lord, have mercy upon us, and incline our hearts to keep this law.

Minister: Honour your father and mother (Ex. 20:12).  Live as servants of God; honour all people; love the brotherhood (1 Pet. 2:16b, 17a ).
All:   Lord, have mercy upon us, and incline our hearts to keep this law.

Minister: You shall not commit murder (Ex. 20:13 ). Be reconciled to your neighbour (Rom. 12:10a ), overcome evil with good (Rom. 12:21 ).
All:   Lord, have mercy upon us, and incline our hearts to keep this law.

Minister: You shall not commit adultery (Ex. 20:14 ). Know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 6:19 ).
All:   Lord, have mercy upon us, and incline our hearts to keep this law.

Minister: You shall not steal (Exod. 20:15 ). Be honest in all that you do and care for those in need (Deut. 15:11 ).
All:   Lord, have mercy upon us, and incline our hearts to keep this law.

Minister: You shall not be a false witness (Exod. 20:16 ). Let everyone speak the truth, (Zech. 8:16; Eph. 4:25 ).
All:   Lord, have mercy upon us, and incline our hearts to keep this law.

Minister: You shall not covet anything which belongs to your neighbour (Exod 20:17 ). Remember the words of the Lord Jesus: It is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35). Love your neighbour as yourself (Lk. 10:27b ), for love is the fulfilling of the law. (Rom. 13:10b ).

All:   Lord, have mercy upon us, and write all these Your laws in our hearts, we pray You.