As I write this, it is a beautiful Fall day and the leaves are just starting to show their glory! With this article we will complete my series about worship and why we do what we do in worship.
The reading of Scripture and the Word Proclaimed in the sermon go hand in hand. The Book of Order states that “The Scriptures bear witness to the Word of God, revealed most fully in Jesus Christ, the Word who “became flesh and lived among us” (John 1:14). Where the Word is read and proclaimed, Jesus Christ the living Word is present by the power of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, reading, hearing, preaching, and affirming the Word are central to Christian worship and essential to the Service for the Lord’s Day.” I am responsible for the selection of the Scriptures read and then of course the sermon is to be based on that selection. The Book of Order states that “The sermon will present the gospel with clarity and simplicity, in language that all can understand.” I call it the language of the Pew or the People. A sermon should explain scripture in such a way the people are able to act on it to engage in the world based on what the Word calls us to do. I strive to accomplish this and hopefully I am successful at least some of the time!!
After the Sermon we receive the Lord’s offering. Recognizing God’s grace and the bountiful gifts that God showers on us, our response to God is one of gratitude. Our tithes and offerings are not given out of compulsion or obligation. It is an offering of one’s self to God; giving to God our lives, our spiritual gifts and our material goods. The gifts we offer are an expression of our stewardship of creation, a demonstration of our care for one another and our support of the ministries of the church including providing for the needs of the poor.
After we receive the Lord’s offering we turn to God with the Prayers of the People. In this we pray for the world that God loves so very much. These prayers are comprehensive of ALL areas of life….there is nothing we cannot take to God because NOTHING is outside of God’s care. We usually include the mission and ministry of the universal Church and the local church, we pray for creation and the right use of resources, peace and justice in the world and leaders of ALL nations and ALL faiths. And yes…we pray for God’s righteous action amidst our politics. We also pray for those who have a special place in God’s heart; the poor, the hungry and the oppressed; and that we might be God’s presence to those who suffer. God knows our hearts and God knows our pain….we lift our loved ones each week to God seeking comfort, grace and God’s presence in times of need. While we may wander, God never forsakes us.
We are then sent back into the world with a blessing. We are blessed in order to be a blessing to others. It is important to remember that worship does not end at the conclusion of the Service for the Lord’s Day; we go forth to love and serve the Lord in daily living. In so doing, we seek to fulfill our chief end: to glorify and enjoy God forever!
Blessings to you and yours!