Our Sunday worship services are intentional. That is to say, each service is deliberately patterned to revolve around the Ministry of God’s Word and the Ministry of the Lord’s Table. We believe that worship is not so much about what we do, but rather about God’s divine activity over us. That is why at the beginning of each service, we acknowledge that God has gathered us. We might have decided to come to worship, but we believe it was God who called us first. We begin, therefore, with an invocation and praise to God.
Call to Worship
Minister: Blessed be God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit
People: And blessed be His kingdom, now and forever.
Next, we greet one another, welcoming each other to church as Christ has welcomed us (Rom 15:7). This is an important part of our worship service, for it gives everyone a brief opportunity to visit with their Christian brothers and sisters, to welcome guests, and to share in a time of fellowship.
Once we have greeted each other, we come together for prayer – a prayer that is traditionally known as “the Collect for Purity.” This prayer, led by the pastor, is offered on behalf of the entire congregation. This is a time when we acknowledge our need for God, asking him to cleanse us and prepare us for the ministry of the Word. Through this prayer, we learn to take seriously the admonishment of Scripture when it says, “Guard your steps when you go to the house of God” (Ecc 5:1). We come, therefore, with reverence and humility.
Songs of Praise
Once we have collected our prayers to God, we saturate our hearts with songs of praise. Our music minister leads us in these congregational songs – songs that all congregants are encouraged to sing together. We believe that music and joyful singing are essential components to an encounter with God (Ps 150). Our music, being a mix of traditional hymns and contemporary praise songs, is an opportunity for us to express our hearts to our Lord.
Scripture Readings & Sermon
Now that we have come to God with prayer and song, our hearts are ready to hear him speak. This is a time when the congregation sits in silence as Scripture is read. By doing this, we submit to God’s authority, acknowledging that it is God’s counsel that we need. And his word is that counsel (Ps 119:105). During this time, we listen as the lector reads first from the Old Testament (including the Psalms), and then secondly from the New Testament. The congregation is then invited to stand together for the Gospel reading. All of our readings are taken from the Revised Common Lectionary. This allows us to incorporate a lot of Scripture throughout the years for our on-going encouragement and exhortation. The Scripture readings are then followed by the sermon, delivered by our pastor. After the sermon, there is a time of prayer and reflection. This allows the congregation to respond to the Scripture that was heard. The ministry and proclamation of God’s word illuminates our hearts, often prodding us to make some decision in life – whether that be to confess sin or to follow him more deeply. However the Holy Spirit might be leading us to respond, this time gives us an opportunity to adjust our lives to God in a personal way.
The Passing of Jesus’ Peace
Our world is full of sin, chaos, and destruction. In light of this, we incorporate a time each Sunday when we can pass the peace of Jesus Christ to one another. This is a time of joyful assurance – a time when we audibly acknowledge that, based upon our confession and repentance of sins, God has truly lavished forgiveness and peace upon us through Christ alone. Even if we might have brought to church a burden of worry, fear, or guilt, we pass the peace of Christ to each other as a gift.
Minister: The peace of the Lord be always with you.
People: And also with you.
We believe that the giving of our tithes and offerings are themselves acts of worship. When we give monetarily to the church, we acknowledge that God has first given us many good things – jobs, money, houses, cars. And, in light of his graciousness, we confess our indebtedness to him. We therefore give back to God a portion of what he has kindly given to us. Everything in the world is God’s, and the time of offering is a worshipful reminder to us that this is true (Ps 24:1).
Every Sunday, we partake of the Lord’s Supper (sometimes known as Holy Communion or the Eucharist). We do this often because we often need the visible and tangible reminder of God’s goodness and grace. We regularly need to “taste and see that the Lord is good” (Ps 34:8). All Christians are invited to come and partake in the Lord’s Table regardless of denominational affiliation. This is not a Baptist Table, a Methodist Table, or a Presbyterian Table, or any one group’s Table. This is the Lord’s Table. Therefore, all of God’s people – those who have been baptized in the name of the Triune God – are invited to come in faith, reverence, and humility.
We prepare for the Table by singing together songs of praise and thanksgiving. These songs, immersed in the truth of Scripture, help prepare our hearts so that we can approach, and then partake of, the Lord’s Body. We do not approach the Table flippantly or with pretension, but with the joy of humility.
Prayers of confession then follow the songs of praise and thanksgiving. The pastor leads the church in a prayer based upon 1 Cor 11:23-26 (this is traditionally called the “Institutional Narrative”). After this, our church family prays the Lord’s Prayer together, as Christ taught us to do (Matt 6:5-15). Our pastor then leads us in a prayer that prepares us for approaching the Table (sometimes called “the Prayer of Humble Access”). The congregation then enters into a time of silence. This time of silence is very personal, indeed sacred, as it allows us to quiet our hearts for confession, repentance, and remembrance. This allows our congregation to “be still and know” that he is God (Ps 46:10). The congregation is then invited to come forward to receive the elements, as the Spirit leads. We make it a practice to come forward to the altar to receive the elements as a visible reminder of our personal response to God’s loving invitation.
Post-Communion Prayer of Blessing and Sending
Once all have been served, a prayer is offered to God, thanking him for the opportunity to partake in the Lord’s Body and, as a result, for granting us full assurance that we are His children. This prayer, too, asks God to send us out into the community – into our jobs, our towns, our families – to do the work of ministry. As Christians, we are not supposed to hide behind the walls. Rather, we must go and proclaim the Good News, living lives that bear witness to Jesus Christ.
We conclude our liturgy the way it began, with a praise to God. We leave the service singing the “Doxology,” which is followed by a benediction.
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost! Amen.
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It is our hope that this liturgy – this God-focused pattern of worship – forms and shapes us into a people that God desires.