In the early church scripture was read at every eucharist and the commonest pattern was to have three reading: 1) one from the Old Testament; 2) one from the New Testament epistles or Acts or Revelation; and 3) one from the Gospels. “The reading of the gospel is the last of the scripture readings and the climax of the series. In it is seen the presence of Christ the Word of God. Hence great honour is often accorded to the gospel book. …. The book is frequently carried in procession to the place of reading, accompanied by lights [i.e. candles] and incense. Traditionally it was read from a pulpit of ambo, but often today in the middle of the congregation”. [See section “Readings, Eucharistic” in The New Westminster Dictionary of Liturgy and Worship. Edited by Paul Bradshaw. Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2002. p. 401 and especially sub-section “3. The Gospel”.
Other actions and posture also mark out the importance of the gospel. The congregation stands for the reading of the gospel. Before and after the gospel reading, the people “acclaim Christ present in the sacred word”. In the Book of Alternative Services the acclamation before the gospel is: “Glory to you, Lord Jesus Christ”. After the reading the congregation says: “Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ”.
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