We share in worship forms used by the earliest Christians and which developed over time and were revised during the Protestant Reformation of the 16th and 17th centuries. Even after the changes of nearly two thousand years of use, however, Christian liturgy is organized around two basic poles: the public reading and preaching of Scripture (the ‘Service of the Word’), and the celebration of the Lord’s Supper in memory of his death and resurrection (the ‘Service of Holy Communion’). In both of these sacred acts, we worship God by preparing ourselves to receive his gracious presence and work in our lives. At Grace and Peace Presbyterian, our worship is shaped in accord with the Directory for the Public Worship of God of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church while drawing on the faithful heritage of the church’s worship that precedes and follows the Protestant Reformation.
Some frequently asked questions about our worship:
How do I participate? Throughout the worship folder you will see parts for the “All.” That’s you, of course! The liturgy involves you in the worship of God. You are not a spectator but a participant. In fact, the literal meaning of the word liturgy is the work of the people. A helpful way to realize this in your own experience of the liturgy is to treat the entire service as one giant prayer to God. If you’re new to a liturgical way of worship, it may take a few times to catch on. That’s okay!
Why are some of the prayers scripted? Some of our prayers are prayed in common with thousands of other worship gatherings worldwide and teach us that we are not a schism or sect, but share with faithful believers everywhere. Written prayers put our affirmations of God’s character together with our Scripture-based confessions of sin, requests and hopes. They lend us words to pray when we have trouble articulating what is in our hearts. We pray them with the same sincerity and urgency as when we pray extemporaneously.
Why does the minister lead Worship from the Communion Table and preach from the Pulpit? Our minister follows the example of the reformer John Calvin who led worship from the Table but went up to the Pulpit to preach. The practice of reserving the pulpit for exclusively preaching (not singing or making announcements etc.) emphasizes the importance of preaching. The communion table, like the family table in your home is better suited for family communication and sharing. During the Lord’s Supper liturgy the minister represents Christ through word and action as all gathered together around to share together.
Why is there so much singing? Music has a unique way of helping us express the deepest parts of ourselves. That’s why nearly every culture on earth uses singing to mark special moments. Our encounter with the living God in worship is the most profound of moments, so we cannot help but sing our praises to God!
Why do you use the Apostle’s Creed and Nicene Creed? Why do they refer to the “catholic” church? These Creeds were developed by the leadership of the early church. They prayerfully studied Scripture and formulated them as faithful summaries of the core beliefs of Christianity, and most Christians have been using them ever since. In these we profess belief in “one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church.” The term “catholic” simply means universal, single, or worldwide. The churches that do not use these creeds often believe what they affirm, but may prefer to give the impression that they have discovered the faith independent of other Christians with whom they differ in some ways.
Is the minister forgiving my sins during the Declaration of Pardon? Is that right? No, that’s not our practice. Only God can forgive sin. And God charges his ministers with pronouncing the forgiveness that he eagerly extends through Christ Jesus. The Bible promises “if we confess our sins, God is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). That’s what the minister proclaims aloud to assure anyone who has confessed their sins that they are indeed forgiven by the one death and resurrection of Jesus.