As we complete our series on worship I want to end with a description of our worship service. In order to fully embrace worship as we celebrate it each week it is helpful to experience it as a conversation with God. God initiates the conversation and we respond.
Announcements and Time of Greeting: We begin with reminders that we are a community of faith created by Christ. This time also allows us a chance to greet newcomers to our family in the name of Christ. By so doing we demonstrate our belief that we are Everybody's Church.
Choral Introit: This musical offering allows us to center our hearts and minds upon the purpose for which we have gathered; entering into an encounter with the living God.
Call to Worship: The call to worship is God inviting us into a conversation. Notice that the "One" plays the part of God calling to us and then we respond in kind.
Opening Hymn: This is our first response to God's invitation to worship. Most opening hymns are hymns of praise which are offered to God for all that God has done for us and for the world.
Time with the Younger Church: Jesus loved and blessed children. We follow his example and help children hear God speaking to them during this time in our service.
Baptism or Communion - Baptism and Communion are the two sacraments of our church. They are visible signs of promises God has made to us. Baptism represents the promise that all are welcomed into God's family. Communion reminds us of God's promise to always be renewing our lives through the continuing presence of Jesus Christ in the church.
Call to Confession: God calls us to confess where our lives, both corporately and individually, have not been lived in a Christ-like manner. In this way we open ourselves to loving others more fully.
Prayer of Confession: We respond to God's call by confessing where we have fallen short of God's expectations for us. We always do this though, knowing that God has promised to forgive.
Assurance of Pardon: God responds with a declaration of forgiveness, reminding us that we have been forgiven and have become new people, capable of living in new ways.
Sung Response: We sing to God and give thanks for our having been forgiven and reconciled.
Unison Prayer for Illumination: We ask that God will open our minds and hearts so that the ancient story of God's people will have meaning for us today.
Scripture Readings: God now speaks to us through God's ancient story; from both the First and Second Testaments.
Sermon: The sermon is a conversation between God's word, our lives and the work of the Holy Spirit. We strive to bring the ancient story into our modern world in such a way that our lives are transformed through the encounter.
Hymn: God's gift of the scriptures is always Good News. Our response to that Good News is to praise God in song.
Tithes and Offerings: We continue our response to God's gracious Word by the giving of gifts to support God's community.
Offertory: The offertory is a continuation of our songs of thanksgiving.
Prayers of the People: This is the time in our gathering when we speak to and listen for God with one heart and one mind. We pray the Lord's Prayer as a way of binding us together with both God and with believers of all time and all places.
Closing Hymn: The final hymn is intended to allow us to praise God one more time in such a way that we are reminded of our call to love God and neighbor.
Benediction: The benediction is the moment when the pastor pronounces God's blessings upon God's people. This blessing empowers us to go and serve.
Postlude: This is a moment when we are offered the opportunity to reflect on what God has done for us so that we might go and serve as those blessed by God