Why We Read

Liturgy invites us to engage with God by utilizing all our senses. Scripture has, up until recently, been an oral and aural tradition. Hearing scripture read in liturgy provides a space to allow our hearts and imaginations to be drawn into the stories of God and God’s people. Lectors tell these stories.

As a lector, you are a liturgical leader inviting people to hear something new, renewing, comforting, challenging, or discomfiting in God’s Word. The focus is on God, the Word, and what God is speaking to each of us. You are involving people in the ancient and forever-continuing story of God’s love for all creation.

Continue reading to understand the requirements of being a lector, and how to prepare.

Being a Lector


  • Must be a committed member of St. Philip the Deacon Episcopal Church and faithful in Sunday attendance.
  • Attend Lector orientation prior to reading. Renew attendance at least every other year.
  • Must speak clearly and with sufficient strength to be heard.
  • Have access to the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible.


  • Sign up at least once month in advance.
  • Attend Lector meetings as scheduled.
  • Spend time with assigned Scripture passage prior to Sunday in order to have a greater understanding of the message to be conveyed.
  • If unable to read on date assigned, obtain a substitute and inform the parish office of the change.

Helpful Links

  • Readings based on the Revised Common Lectionary are posted at http://www.textweek.com/.
  • Lectionary readings are taken from the NRSV translation. Text Week links to each reading, and a free NRSV is available at http://bible.oremus.org/.

Reading in Liturgy


  • Read the passage aloud multiple times, perhaps in front of others.
  • Take the time to study it, reflect on it.
  • As you study a reading, reflect on its fundamental nature. Is it a letter? A discourse to a crowd? A story? Is it dialogue? A poem? A song? A metaphor? A warning? What is the passage’s context in its Biblical book? Who wrote or said it? What are the emotions to be conveyed?
  • If you aren’t sure of how to say something, ask someone (your clergy probably has an opinion). Regardless, pronounce it with confidence. Honestly, very few other folks know how to say the word either.
  • Read the passage again, aloud, as if you are telling the story, or reading the letter to an eagerly waiting community.

Get in position

  • First Reader: come to the lectern during the Collect of the Day.
  • Second Reader: come to the lectern during the end of the Psalm.
  • As you enter/leave the altar area, pause and bow towards the altar while standing at the top of the stairs.
  • Prayers of the people: stand in the center of the aisle, center of the church, facing the altar.
  • If you are reading scripture, use the lectionary Bible or sheet at the lectern. Do not bring up a bulletin, sheet or Bible.
  • Be in position and ready to read before the previous section is complete.

Deliver it!

  • Open the passage simply: “A reading from (name of the book)” or “A reading from Paul’s letter to the church at (name of city). Please do not cite the chapter and verse numbers or include any additional introduction (including a greeting).
  • Tell the story, read the letter, say it like you mean it!
  • Speak slowly and clearly, to the people. Speak to the last pew, not the first.
  • If you know the passage well enough, look up, make eye contact.
  • Pause at the end to allow everyone to digest the story in silence.
  • Invite people to reflect, “Hear what the Spirit is saying to God’s people.”
  • If you make a small mistake, ignore it and keep going. If you mangle the meaning of a sentence, simply back up and say it correctly. Don’t apologize, don’t be flustered, just clarify and go right on.