It may come as a shock to you, but all churches have a “liturgy.” This word simply refers to an order of doing things. No matter what church you’ve attended, that church has a general pattern or order they follow in their worship service, even “contemporary” churches. At WRC, we believe that the way we worship should re-enforce the message of the Bible to both our souls and our bodies, rather than manipulate your emotions.
The Bible clearly demonstrates that God is the One to initiate covenants with man, whether that was in the Garden, with Abraham, through Moses, or in the New Covenant. Man, then, becomes God’s covenant partner, but only as a recipient and image-bearer, never as God’s equal. Therefore, our worship is “responsive” – God initiates with us through His covenantal word, and we respond to Him in confession, prayer, and song. In other words, worship is “dialogical”. For more on this, see Worship Services and Why is your liturgy so old-fashioned?
Our liturgy varies slightly from week-to-week. You can find a sample bulletin here (pdf). Below is an explanation of what we do in worship
God Lifts Us Into His Presence
Just as we would not barge into the Oval Office or a King’s throne room, we await God’s summons and invitation in the Call to Worship. This is a Scripture text that commands us to worship. Given that we are not able to worship God in our own power and strength, we then invoke His help with a short prayer. God responds by greeting us. Thankfully, He greets us in “Grace and peace,” not in justice and the condemnation we deserve, so we sing a song a praise.
- Call to Worship
- God’s Greeting
God Renews His Baptismal Promise
After entering the presence of our Covenant Lord, it’s important that we’re reminded of our standing before God and our identity in Christ. Therefore, we first hear His Law read to us. The Law speaks justice and righteousness, so our ongoing rebellion is manifest. We, then, respond by confessing our sins to Him. Thankfully, God has not left us under the Law. He sent Christ to fulfill its demands for us, so we then hear a reading of Gospel comfort and respond by confessing our faith. Our minister, then, pronounces God’s pardon upon those that trust in Christ, so we answer God by singing His praise and drawing near in a time of intercession. Being washed of our sins in Christ is the promise of Baptism, which promise is renewed during this part of the service.
- Reading of Law
- Confession of Sins
- Reading of Gospel
- Confession of Faith
- Absolution (aka Declaration of Pardon)
- Song of Thanks/Praise
God Speaks His Covenant Word
In our Communion Service, our minister ordinarily preaches through a book of the Bible, in order to teach us more about the covenant that God has made with us. (In our Catechism Service, we learn key doctrines of the Christian faith.) After hearing God’s word read and preached, we respond by praying and singing. Again, God’s word drives our response of prayer and song.
- Prayer for Illumination
- Scripture Reading
- Prayer of Application
God Seals His Covenant Word
Finally, we turn our attention toward the Lord’s Table. This begins with our longest prayer of the service, the Prayer of Intercession. This focuses on those who are outside our particular church – our governing authorities and society, the Church catholic, unbelievers, and those who are suffering. We ask the Lord to gather all sinners to the heavenly banquet, which we are about to receive a foretaste. The Supper is another administration of God’s word, and, like Baptism, it is a visible message to us; we refer to it as the “visible gospel.” It is a sign and seal of the covenant that was just preached, once again directing us to the comfort we have in Jesus Christ. Our celebration of the Supper is joyful, instructive, reverent, and prayerful. At the close of our worship, the Lord sends us forth with His blessing in the Benediction. Just like God had the first word in our worship, He also gets the last word. After all, He is the Covenant Lord, and we are mere servants.
- Prayer of Intercession
- Lord’s Supper