In some churches we say, 'This is the word of the Lord' after a reading. The people may, whilst thinking 'Get lost he never said that,' respond 'Thanks be to God.'
What is the word of the Lord? Those who wrote down the Bible, in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek, often used expressions such as, 'The word of the Lord came to x (a prophet) and he said to the people...' So already the word of the Lord, what the prophet heard, is one degree separate for the people who had to hear what the prophet said he heard. Then someone, often the prophet but not always, wrote down these words which went through several processes of refinement, collation and editing before finding themselves in book form not unlike our contemporary Bibles. There was then a translation exercise to get them into English to become one of the many versions of the Bible we might choose. Phew.
John's Gospel tells us that the Word, logos, a philosophical idea which would have been understood to equate with ultimate reality, became flesh. This is John's way of saying who he thought Jesus was, and is. Never was the word of the Lord heard more clearly than when Jesus spoke. Sometimes the gospels disagree about precisely what he said at any given time though.
So maybe we ought to end readings by saying, 'This reading will lead us to the word of the Lord.' Or perhaps, 'May the word of the Lord speak to us through this reading.' Or maybe, 'Here ends the lesson.'
I'm still wrestling with Rowan Williams' 'The Bible is more a starting point than the correct answer to GCSE theology.' And although I can feel the hackles of some of my former evangelical colleagues rise, as they have done many times I'm sure, I'm with the Archbish.