Our Worship Service Explained
The Lord describes our relationship with him in the language of “covenant.” This is a reciprocal relationship of promise and responsibility. Every week our Lord calls us into His presence, reminds us of his promises by His Word, sacrament, and prayer, and builds us up in holiness and comfort, though faith in Christ. We respond in loving obedience through praise, repentance, thanksgiving, and joyful obedience.
Corporate worship shapes our lives as God’s children. This outline briefly teaches the reasons for our manner of worship with the hope that understanding enables us to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which we have been called (Eph. 4:1).
The Lord Calls Us Into His Presence
Worship begins by the Lord’s initiative, for He calls us out of darkness into His marvelous light by His Word (1 Pet. 1:9). The “sursum corda” (“Lift up your hearts…”) signals our lifting up to heaven praise and thanksgiving. We join our voices with the great cloud of witnesses and sing a song of praise to our Triune God (Heb. 12:1; Rev. 4:8,11; 5:9).
The Lord Cleanses Us In His Son
The Lord calls us to repentance to apprehend the mercy of God, to turn from our sin, and to endeavor, by God’s grace, to walk in new obedience. We repent because we are God’s children. Repentance begins with confession. We turn away from sin by agreeing with God that we rebel against Him in thought, word, and deed. Yet, our confession is not without hope, for Christ is our advocate with the Father (1 John 2:1). The declaration of the gospel promise of forgiveness through Christ’s blood received by faith continues our turn to the living God.We respond by proclaiming our trust in Christ through a hymn of praise followed by a profession of faith, such as the Apostles’ or Nicene Creeds. These creeds join our witness with the church throughout the world and the ages to proclaim God’s great covenantal acts in history.
The Lord Feeds Us With His Word
Forgiven and renewed in Christ, the Lord has now prepared us to hear His Word. He instructs us through His law on our joyful duty as redeemed children of God. In grateful response, we offer the Lord’s tithe and other offerings, as well as our congregational prayers. The pastor reads, explains, and applies the Word of God for instruction, correction, transformation, and equipping for service.
The Lord Feeds Us At His Table
The Lord’s Supper is the covenant meal for the people of God. It serves as visible sign and seal of all the benefits of Christ, a bond that He is our God and we are His people, and a communion with our fellow believers. We receive Christ by faith, feeding upon Him for our spiritual nourishment and growth in grace as the Spirit works in us.
The Lord Sends Us Out With His Blessing
As our Lord is holy, we are to be holy, set apart for His purposes in all areas of life. After a hymn of thanksgiving, the benediction is the Lord’s good word to bless us with His peace, promises, and presence. We respond with a final doxology, for “from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever” (Rom. 11:36). May our corporate worship shape us to become this kind of people to proclaim Christ to all the nations.