Liturgy - How We Worship
The Work of the People
OUR WORSHIP SERVICE IS SHAPED BY HISTORIC PRACTICES OF THE CHURCH THAT HAVE FED THE PEOPLE OF GOD FOR THOUSANDS OF YEARS.
THROUGH LITURGY, WE GIVE THANKS TO GOD, REMEMBERING ALL THAT HE HAS DONE AND AFFIRMING ALL THAT HE CONTINUES TO DO.
The liturgy is made up of two cycles of Word & Table. Each cycle leads us to see our sin, receive God's grace, and respond in faith. We gather for worship and we are sent for mission.
"Blessed be God..." We have gathered together to offer up a blessing of praise to God - the Father, the Son, & the Holy Spirit. We declare the primary purpose of our gathering - to worship God and celebrate the coming of his Kingdom. Throughout the church year this greeting may change to reflect the season.
PRAYER OF PURITY
"Almighty God, to you all hearts are open..." Based on Psalm 51, this prayer helps us openly acknowledge that we cannot rightly love and worship God without the work of the Holy Spirit.
SUMMARY OF THE LAW
This is our Father's world, and so we receive from him the purpose of our lives - to love God and to love our neighbor.
In light of hearing what God has made us for, the only proper response is to cry out for God's mercy: "Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Lord, have mercy."
SONG OR THE GLORIA
We sing about the glory and majesty of God, that our minds and hearts might be filled with joy and wonder before him.
Each Sunday, thousands of churches around the world pray a prayer that "collects" our hearts and reminds us of God's character and redemptive work in the world "through Jesus Christ our Lord..."
We believe that God speaks to us through his Word, and so we read and we listen. Each week we read from the Old Testament, the Psalms, the New Testament letters, and the Gospels. Sometimes we read the Psalm at the beginning of the service to help us prepare for our time of worship.
The sermon is an explanation and application of God's word for God's people. All of Scripture is about God and his work to rescue creation through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Jesus is the hero of the Bible, and so we talk a lot about Him.
After the sermon, we affirm the foundational truths of the Christian faith. Though churches differ in how they practice and express their faith, the Creed reflects our union with all Christ followers around the world and throughout the history of the Church.
PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE
We are invited to pray for the global church, the nation, the world, all those who suffer, the specific needs and concerns of our local neighborhood, and the needs in our own lives. There is time to pray together either silently or out loud.
CONFESSION OF SIN
"Most merciful God..." The corporate confession of sin gives us a time to reflect upon our need for God's mercy and grace to cause our lives to more fully reflect his goodness. At the end of the confession, the pastor proclaims God's forgiveness of sins "to all those who sincerely repent and with true faith turn to him."
THE COMFORTABLE WORDS
We hear God's word of assurance that brings great comfort: "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28), "God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16), "The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners" (1 Timothy 1:15), and "If anyone sins, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world" (1 John 2:1-2).
We affirm that we are at peace with God and one another because of the work that he has done for us in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. And because of this work we are now ready to taste and see the goodness of God at the Table.
The offering is a response to all that God has already done for us in Jesus. An act of worship by which we acknowledge our dependence upon and gratitude towards God for the many blessings in our lives.
THE SURSUM CORDA
"Lift up your hearts. We lift them to the Lord..." The Rev. Martin Parsons explains what we do at this point in worship, "There is a time to look in, and a time to look up. Continual self-examination can lead to a morbid state. With the assurance of God's pardon we lift our hearts to him to prepare, in forgetfulness of self, to offer our adoration." (The Holy Communion: An Exposition of the Prayer Book Service, 84)
"Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might...." This part of the service is a hymn of very early origin, based on Isaiah 6. Together we proclaim the glory of the triune God.
THE PRAYER OF CONSECRATION
This prayer is in three parts: "The first contains a statement of the fact of the atoning death of Christ, and the relation of the Sacrament to it; the second, a prayer that those who receive the bread and the wine may be partakers of Christ's Body and Blood; the third, a recital, with the appropriate actions, of the events in the Upper Room on the night of the Institution" (The Holy Communion, 98). And so each week we hear the words of Jesus, "Take eat, this is my Body.... Drink this, all of you; for this is my Blood of the New Covenant..."
THE LORD'S PRAYER
We pray with expectant faith to our good Father because this is the prayer that Jesus taught us to pray. We know he hears us and so we pray, "Our Father..."
THE PRAYER OF HUMBLE ACCESS
"We do not presume to come to this your table, O merciful Lord, trusting in our own righteousness..." We often pray this before we eat and drink at the table to affirm once again that we trust in his "abundant and great mercies."
Those who have put their faith in Jesus and been baptized partake of the bread and wine (we also have grape juice and a gluten-free option upon request). We ask that those who have not yet put their faith in Jesus and been baptized either remain seated or come to the Table and cross their arms to receive a prayer of blessing from a pastor.
POST COMMUNION PRAYER
This prayer of thanksgiving for all that God has given us and assured us of his favor, ends with the offering of our lives. In this prayer we ask our good Father "to assist us with your grace, that we may continue in that holy fellowship, and do all the works that you have prepared for us to walk in..." As the Rev. Parsons once again clarifies, "It is an immense comfort to know that God who prepares us for good works, is also preparing the particular good works for us to do. Guided service, not hectic activity, is the mark of the dedicated Christian." (The Holy Communion, 116)
THE BLESSING & SENDING
We are blessed and then sent back into the ordinary rhythms of our week, but we are not the same. We have tasted and seen the goodness of our Father. We have feasted on the Word and at the Table, and now it is time to go and invite our neighbors and our friends to join us in the feast next time. This is the propulsion of grace! We would love to have you join us for a Sunday Fiesta!