What is a Worship Service like?
Covenant URC's worship service may strike you as a bit unusual at first. More than merely traditional or old fashioned, the liturgy of Covenant URC's worship service is traditional in nature and patterned after that of John Calvin’s 16th Century worship service in Geneva, Switzerland.
Elements of the worship service, such as the recitation of the Apostle’s Creed and the Lord’s prayer and singing from the Psalter Hymnal have been part of worship services in Protestant churches for centuries and only in recent years have been excluded. We have brought them back into our worship for very good reasons. Those reasons follow in this explanation of the various parts of our liturgy:
The Call To Worship
God calls us to worship Him. He summons us into His presence and we gladly obey His command to glorify His name. Psalm 95 is a famous call to worship, the Psalmist saying to his fellow worshipers, “Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.”
As we have entered into the presence of God, we call upon His name, the Name of the one who has delivered us from our sin and promises us eternal life in Christ. A high and holy drama of salvation is about to be underway.
The Lord’s Greeting
In response to the congregation invoking God’s name, God speaks His blessing, declaring grace and peace to those who have gathered in Christ’s name.
Reading of the Law
How do we, sinners, gather with any sort of confidence before a holy God? God declares in His perfect law who may approach Him. Far from eliminating the demands of the law, Jesus explained just how impossible it is for us to keep it. As we confess that we have fallen short of the glory of God, we flee to Christ and trust Him who obeyed the law for us and who shed His blood for the forgiveness of our sins.
Confession and Absolution
Oh, how we need the assurance that God will not hold our sins against us, but has truly forgiven them for the sake of Christ! In this part of the service we are reminded and assured once again that all who call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
Assured that our sins are forgiven, we may approach with confidence into the very presence of God and receive help in our time of need. In the pastoral prayer, the minister interceded on behalf of the church, not only his own congregation, but for the church all over the world. Our prayers are heard only because of the one mediator between God and man, Jesus Christ our Lord. Jesus taught his disciples, and us, the scope and elements of prayer when he taught them how to pray in what we call, The Lord’s Prayer.
The Lord's Prayer
Our Father, who art in heaven hallowed be thy name. Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the evil one. For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. AMEN
Offerings of Thanksgiving
Our offerings do not pay for our sins, but are merely tokens of our recognition that everything we have and everything we are belongs to God. We give for the sake of the ministry of the Word and for the sake of those in need.
The Word of the Lord Proclaimed
The Word of God is addressed to God’s people that they might believe and therefore be saved. The Word is powerful and active, able to transform, to build up and to tear down any obstacle to godliness and holiness. As God plants His Word in our hearts, it bears the peaceful fruit to righteousness for all “who have ears to hear.”
God gets the last Word! And it is a good one. It is a word of blessing, a promise to keep us and be gracious to us always. It is a word of peace, that we might be always confident that God is favorably disposed to us, not out to “get us” but working everything out for our salvation and granting us His peace.