Worship Service Details
The beginning of the service is marked by God calling us together as He promises: “Where two or three are gathered in My name, I will be there also.” His name is the name in which we are baptized by His command in Matthew 28:19-20: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
The Opening Hymn
The opening hymn reflects the season of the church year, or the theme of the day, highlighting the teachings of the lessons.
Confession and Absolution
God asks us to confess our sins and authorizes the church through its pastors to forgive sins. He pronounces the absolution (forgiveness) on behalf of Christ who said, “’Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.’ And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained’” (John 20:21-23).
The Reading of the Psalm
The Book of Psalms was the Old Testament people’s songbook. There were tunes used in the chanting/singing of the Psalms and these were a vital part of the worship life of God’s people. These inspired writings are still a valued part of our worship life today.
Kyrie Eleison is Greek for “Lord Have Mercy.” The Gospel of Mark records, “Now they came to Jericho. As He went out of Jericho with His disciples and a great multitude, blind Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, sat by the road begging. And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!’” (Mark 10:46-48). It is still fitting today for God’s needy children to cry out to Jesus, “Lord have mercy.”
The Hymn of Praise
God calls us to sing and the hymn of praise is an opportunity to join with the angels and saints throughout the ages in singing the words they first sang, like those expressed at Jesus’ birth—the Gloria in Excelsis: “Glory to God in the highest. And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” (Luke 2:14), and John the Baptizer’s precious words, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world!” (John 1:29). Another hymn of praise, This is the Feast, has its roots in the book of Revelation (5:12-13 and 19:5-9).
Propers of the Day
Readings, collects, etc., are those parts of the service that change with every service. They are selected to correspond with the season of the church year, and to give us a broad exposure to the Word of God.
The Salutation and Collect of the Day
The Salutation is a reference to 2 Timothy 4:22 where Paul closes his letter by saying, “The Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Grace be with you. Amen.” The Collect is a short prayer meant to gather (collect) the thoughts of the readings, and the theme of the day into one concise short prayer.
God reveals Himself to us through His Holy Word. So that “the whole counsel of God” can be covered as much as possible, we follow a lectionary or reading schedule. We read from both the Old Testament and the New Testament. In the Old Testament Jesus is active, helping His beloved people as they await His coming and in the New Testament we learn the specifics of the Messiah’s birth, life, death, resurrection, ascension, and continued work among His people.
This section of the Bible contains 39 books which comprise the Bible Jesus and His direct followers used.
The word epistle is Greek for ‘letter’ or correspondence, so we are hearing from a ‘letter’ written almost two thousand years ago for the benefit of Christians, both then and now.
Alleluia and Verse
One of the Biblical references we often sing is from John 6:68. Jesus had just asked His disciples if they wanted to leave Him as others had just done. Peter responds with, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” The Alleluias (meaning praise) are quite fitting as we prepare to hear the Gospel—the Good News about and from Jesus.
The Gospel has a grander introduction than the other readings in our worship services, which is quite fitting as we prepare to hear Jesus’ words. (We stand out of respect for our Lord as we listen to Him speak to us).
The Sermon Hymn
The sermon hymn or hymn of the day reflects the theme of the day and augments the thought of the sermon, lessons, and prayers. It gives us time to reflect on the readings as we prepare to hear an exposition of what we have heard from God’s Word.
The Sermon Text
The text is the basis of the sermon. The sermon grows out of God’s Word, crafted with the goal of explaining and proclaiming Jesus as the only Saviour for this dying world. The Word of God is properly preached when Law and Gospel are clearly spoken. The Law shows us our sin, the Gospel shows us God’s love. The law tells us what we are to do and what we are not to do. The Gospel tells us what Jesus has done for us. The law works to drive us to the Cross for forgiveness so that we can live as forgiven people, redeemed by Christ the crucified. That is the heart of every Christian sermon—Christ crucified for a dying world.
The Sermon Theme
The title or theme conveys the central thought, or idea behind the sermon and helps us focus on that while listening. The sermon gives the preacher the opportunity to tie the Word of God to the everyday lives of the people he serves. Sermons are designed to teach, exhort, comfort, and convey the great truths about God which we so desperately need to live our life of faith. Paul writes, “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.” A powerful sermon proclaims God’s Word.
The Nicene Creed is traditionally used during communion services, the Apostles’ Creed during other services and the Athanasian Creed is used on Trinity Sunday as well as at other times. These creeds are called ecumenical because all Christians adhere to what these creeds confess.
One of the greatest privileges we have as God’s children is approaching His throne of Grace through prayer. We can pray at home and at worship. Prayers are crafted to reflect the theme of the day, specific needs of the church, as well as the needs of the world around us. St. Paul, writing to Timothy, encourages us, “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Saviour, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:1-4).
The Offering and Offertory
One of the ways we respond to God’s love is to present our offerings before Him. We give to Him out of a thankful, renewed heart, not desiring a reward or trying to earn His favour with our offerings, but out of thankfulness. Following the offering we sing an offertory, both are our responses to our Gracious God who has blessed us with a hearing of His Word and an explanation.