Our church’s liturgy would probably be described as “free church” worship by those who study such things (see Kent Hughes, “Free Church Worship” in Worship by the Book, ed. D. A. Carson). Nothing flashy, no smells or bells but with a healthy dose of Christ-centered singing, Scripture reading, preaching, and lots of prayer. We’re simple like that without apology to our more dour brethren.
So I’m reading Stuart Olyott’s little booklet Reading the Bible and Praying in Public and I come to this paragraph:
There is one more thing to add: when we come to the end of our public reading of Scripture, we should stop and say nothing else at all. Let the Word of God ring in the silence of each listener’s heart! There is widespread habit of rounding off the reading by adding some form of pious ‘ditty’, as if a mortal and sinful man could somehow pronounce a blessing on the Word of God or speed it on its way. This is a bad habit and we should abandon it.
First of all, I like a lot of what he has to say. However I want to know who appointed Olyott the Scripture reading police. A booklet like his would be better served to call ministers back to giving attention to extended readings of Scripture in worship rather than foaming over preference issues. If someone adds a “this is the Gospel of our Lord” or a “thanks be to God” after a reading I will simply rejoice that God’s Word has been spoken. Not to mention the fact that Olyott seems to detest what Ezra actually did after the reading (Neh 8:6). Why impugn motives of worship leaders over something preferential? This is akin to one well-known expositor I know who teaches that the preacher should ALWAYS read his passage at the beginning of his sermon because he believes this gets the hearer into the text as soon as possible. I simply call this kind of wisdom hocus pocus.
Psalm 119 has not a few blessings on the Word, all of which I’m quite sure are appropriate for reciting in worship and after Scripture readings. So I for one am not opposed to “ditties” as described by the author, but then again I’m one of those low life free churchers. Thanks be to God!