Worship Services

Worship Services

September 29, 2015

The world in which we live and breath from Monday to Saturday reminds us at every turn that life is far from perfect.  We wonder why it is so, and wonder too how we can best cope with life’s brokenness.  God almighty explains.  Sunday by Sunday He summons people from any street of life to gather together to hear His answers to life’s hard questions, and so equip us to carry on with the challenges of the new week.

In this church we meet at 9:30 am and 2:30 pm for two different worship services.  The central aspect of both services is the preaching of the good news of God’s salvation in Jesus Christ, and what that news means for this life and the life to come.  Around that central element of the service are various Scripture readings, songs, and prayers.  Let me take you step by step through what you could experience in a typical morning service.

Worship Service – Enter in!

Members and guests arrive before between 9:00 and 9:30 for the morning service and 2:00 and 2:30 for the afternoon service.  Some choose to chat in the foyer for some minutes while others prefer to take their seats in the auditorium.  Either way is fine.  In the background you will hear the organ or piano playing some music and setting the tone.  Greeters will greet you at the door and provide you with a handout relevant to the day’s services.  An usher will be happy to provide you with a Bible and song book if needed. As the usher directs you to your seat you will see various families seated around you. God wants all His people to worship Him together. Infants and toddlers are cared for in a nursery, but as soon as the children can sit in church they are most welcome!

What should I wear?

It is the preference of many of our members to dress up in their “Sunday best”. Those who do dress up, are simply trying to show honour and respect to the Lord God in this way. This is not a requirement, and you are welcome to come in whatever clothes you feel comfortable in.

 

Praise and Blessing

We use a song book called The Book of Praise: Anglo-Genevan Psalter which contains the 150 Psalms of the Bible put to music as well as 85 Hymns based mostly on texts of Scripture. As much as possible we want to keep the Word of God on our lips as we praise Him! With a bit of practice, you’ll be singing them as well as anyone!

The service formally begins as the minister issues a call to rise and worship God. The congregation responds by confessing her trust in the Lord alone to which the minister responds by giving God’s greeting of peace on His behalf. Throughout the service you will find a back-and-forth interaction as God and His people come together and speak together.

 

Reflecting on the 10 Commandments

After singing a song of praise, we then listen to God again through the reading of His law, the 10 Commandments. Why read the law? That may sound like an odd thing to do, but it is an important act of worship. The 10 Commandments show us how God wants us to live. They act as a mirror for our lives and a standard of perfection to strive for. As we listen and compare our lives to God’s law, we realize every week how our lives do not match up. Our sin is made clear to us and we are humbled before the Lord.

But the amazing thing is we are not led to despair! Instead we are driven into the arms of our Saviour Jesus Christ! In the prayer after the law, we publicly confess our sins and then seek forgiveness for them in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross. Because God has promised forgiveness, we do not go away dreading or doubting, but we continue our worship in humble confidence that we stand right with God again. It’s a beautiful moment- our guilt has been cleared away! Even more, we are given the Holy Spirit to help us fight against sin and to show how thankful we are to Him. In the end, the law shows us how to be thankful to God!

 

Taking in God’s Word

After the law, singing, and prayer, we then read a portion or two of Scripture that is related to the “text” of the sermon. The morning sermons are based squarely on one text of Scripture. After singing a song to prepare our hearts and minds for the hearing of the gospel, we then set to work listening to the preacher explain God’s Word from the selected text. Each sermon is about 30 minutes in length. It takes up the most time in the worship service for one key reason – because God wants us to be instructed by the preaching of His Word (Romans 10:14-17). You won’t see any visual aids nor will you hear a lot of personal anecdotes or funny stories. But you will hear a Bible passage explained, the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ trumpeted, and how we Christians should live outlined. As we listen, the Holy Spirit makes us understand and believe God’s Word, and then helps us to live it out each day.

 

Offering of Thanks

After the sermon is over, the congregation responds with a song of praise chosen in connection with the message of the sermon. After singing, a prayer of thanksgiving is offered.  Following this, the congregation again responds to the gospel message by bringing a thank-offering to the Lord. Yes, this is indeed a financial gift dedicated to the Lord, but please do not misunderstand this as a payment for the service or even as support for the minister. Not one penny of the offering goes to support the minister – that is done by the voluntary contributions of the members on their own. The offering is given to show your thanks to the Lord for His salvation as just proclaimed, and all the monies are distributed to the poor and needy, whether in the congregation, or community or the world. The offering is accompanied by a song of thanksgiving.

 

Parting Blessing

The Lord has the last say in the worship service as He sends His people home with His blessing of peace. We may leave His presence having our faith strengthened by the preaching and being equipped with renewed commitment to live a life pleasing to Him. After the blessing, the congregation trickles out of the building, gathering informally in conversation and fellowship. All in all the whole service takes about 1hr and 15 minutes.

 

Twice on Sunday?

Yes, we come back once again in the afternoon to meet with the Lord. As part of celebrating the Lord’s Day, we are glad to have the opportunity to gather twice with His people. We are thankful to be able to praise Him and receive His good gifts a second time. When you are thirsty, you look forward to a cool drink and even to a refill – that’s what worship is like for God’s people.

The afternoon service is much like the morning with only a few differences. For example, instead of reading the law, we publicly profess our faith by singing the Apostles’ Creed. But the key difference lies in the type of sermon we hear. Whereas in the morning the preaching is based on one text of Scripture, the afternoon sermon explains a teaching of the Bible that is learned from several texts (e.g. the Trinity, how we are saved, how we are to live, etc). The church has long ago summarized the Bible’s major teachings in a written confession called the Heidelberg Catechism. This Catechism then serves as a guide for the Scripture teaching but the basis of the message remains the Bible. Catechism preaching is geared especially to teach the young people the main doctrines of the Bible.

 

What About You?

And that’s how we worship God. It’s simple, Biblical, and beautiful – why don’t you come and worship with us? God is calling you too!

Here are the precise orders of worship for morning and afternoon:

Morning Service (9:30 am)

  1. Elders and deacons (Church Council) arrives
  2. General announcements are read, after which the minister will ask the congregation to rise.
  3. As part of a Call to Worship, a scripture passage will be read.
  4. The congregation confesses its dependence on the LORD by reciting the Votum together:  “Our help is in the Name of the LORD, who made heaven and earth.” (Psalm 124: 8)
  5. The minister conveys the Lord’s greeting to the congregation (1 Corinthians 1: 3 or 1 Timothy 1: 2b or Revelation 1: 4b, 5a).
  6. Congregational Singing
  7. The Ten Words of the Covenant (10 commandments), from Exodus 20: 1 – 17or Deuteronomy 5:6 – 21 are read.
  8. Congregational Singing
  9. Prayer (public confession of sins; prayer for forgiveness, renewal and illumination).
  10. Reading of Holy Scripture (one or more passages related to the sermon)
  11. Congregational Singing (standing)
  12. Reading of the Text
  13. Ministry of the Word
  14. Congregational Singing – responsive song
  15. Prayer (thanksgiving, and prayer for all the needs of Christendom)
  16. Offertory
  17. Congregational Singing — closing song.
  18. Benediction (divine blessing) from Numbers 6: 24-26 or 2 Corinthians 13: 14.

Afternoon Service (2:30 pm)

  1. Elders and deacons (Church Council) arrives.
  2. General announcements are read, after which the minister will ask the congregation to rise.
  3. As part of a Call to Worship, a scripture passage will be read.
  4. The congregation confesses its dependence on the LORD by reciting the Votum together:  “Our help is in the Name of the LORD, who made heaven and earth.” (Psalm 124: 8)
  5. The minister conveys the Lord’s greeting to the congregation (Revelation 1: 4b, 5a or 1 Corinthians 1: 3 or 1 Timothy 1: 2b).
  6. Congregational Singing
  7. Prayer (for the opening of the Word).
  8. Reading of Holy Scripture (one or more passages related to the part of the Heidelberg Catechism to be explained)
  9. Congregational Singing (standing)
  10. Reading of the Heidelberg Catechism (the Lord’s Day to be explained)
  11. Ministry of the Word
  12. Congregational Singing – responsive song
  13. Profession of Faith:  The congregation will rise and sing The Apostles’ Creed (Hymn 1 or 2)
  14. (Administration of the sacrament of Holy Baptism)
  15. (Celebration of the Lord’s Supper — celebrated on the 2nd Sunday in January, March, May, July, September, November)
  16. Prayer (thanksgiving and intercessions)
  17. Offertory
  18. Congregational Singing — closing song.
  19. Benediction (divine blessing) from 2 Corinthians 13: 14 or Numbers 6: 24-26.

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