Why Do We Worship?
We believe that a central reason why we worship is to give the gift of ourselves to God. We do not offer burnt offerings of grain or animals the way our ancestors in the faith would have, but we offer the sacrifice of our praise (Hebrews 13:15).
The word "liturgy" is used to identify the elements of a worship service. Its original meaning was "the work of the laity." We usually have both a minister of word and sacrament and a lay person lead the responses and read scripture to remind ourselves that worship is not to be dominated by any one type of person. We do not gather to listen to only one person pray but to pray together. In our tradition, we value private devotions, but we also greatly value what happens when we pray, sing, and learn together.
The Form of Worship
Our worship usually follows a four-point form.
- We assemble in God's name: We gather in the name of the Lord, offer praise in the words of Scripture, prayer and song, acknowledge our sinfulness, and receive God's forgiveness.
- We proclaim God's Word: We read and proclaim Scripture, sing Psalms, hymns, spirituals, or anthems, respond to the proclamation of God's Word with acts of commitment and faith, offer prayers of concern for local and worldwide needs, and give our tithes and offerings
- We give thanks to God: We praise God for creation and providence, give thanks for Christ's work of redemption, and invoke the Holy Spirit upon the church. This is also where the Service of the Lord's Table is celebrated.
- We go in God's name: We are sent forth with God's blessing to serve.
We do not believe that worship must follow this form, but we have developed this form for Sunday morning worship as a way of protecting us from patterns that can become unbalanced. We do recognize for instance that an evangelistic service or a prayer meeting might properly take very different forms.