Prelude: The pre-service music and prelude help prepare our hearts and minds for worship as we enter the sanctuary. The music provides a gentle way for us to focus on a truth or aspect of God. Another benefit of the prelude is that it provides us with the opportunity to be blessed through the participation of a variety of church members and types of music.
Opening Prayer: The opening prayer works as a continuation of the prelude. While the prelude focuses on private reflection, the opening prayer draws the congregation together as a whole. The prayer is often based on one or more of that week’s lectionary texts.
Call to Worship & Song: The Call to Worship serves as a way for us to publically and communally state our intent to worship. In it we promise to come before God and listen to everything He will say to us. Like most of the responsive readings and prayers, the Call to Worship is also often based on the lectionary Bible texts. The Opening Song echoes the theme of joining together to worship God.
Prayer of Confession & Song: No one enjoys admitting our faults, but this step is vital to our relationship with God. Confessing our sins brings us before God and acknowledges our need for Him. This clears the path so that we can be free to live differently—as God intended. Even if we haven’t commmited the specific sins voiced in the prayer, we remember that without God, we are all capable of any atrocity. In this time of prayer and song, we ask God for mercy—not only for ourselves, but also for our broken world.
Assurance of Pardon & Song: The Assurance of Pardon is the natural follow-up to the confession of our sins: The story doesn’t end with our guilt! This part of the service is a “mini proclamation” of the Gospel. Yes, we have sinned, but Jesus paid the price of our guilt. The story is much more than “Jesus died so we get to go to heaven” (although that is true and wonderful!). Jesus died so that we can know Him, even as we are known by Him. God Himself lives in every believer—no matter how imperfect—and with Him, every day becomes an adventure of growing closer to Him. Eternity with Jesus begins now for those who know Him! That life-long progression is called sanctification, the process of being made holy. We celebrate God’s work today, even as we look forward to the day when every wrong will be righted and every tear wiped away. That is the truth that is alluded to in every Assurance of Pardon and following song. Praise God!
Offering: The offering provides a way for us to act on our adoration for God. Giving money as an offering allows us to express thankfulness for all that God has given us and trust that God will continue to provide all we need. The offering serves as a vivid reminder that all we have comes from God’s hand, and in willingly giving it back to Him, we offer all that we have and all that we are to Him. We give our money during offering, but it also symbolizes the time, talents, possessions, dreams, and everything else that we submit to Him to be used in ministry to the world.
Prayer, Song of Illumination, & Scripture Reading: In the Song and Prayer of Illumination before the readings, we ask the Holy Spirit to work in our hearts as His Word is read. We usually read two of the four texts from the lectionary that week. The reading of God’s Word is the pillar of our worship service and one of the most privileged moments of worship. The whole service so far has been preparing our hearts and minds and leading toward this climax of hearing God’s own words to His people. What a privilege that the God of the universe wants to speak to us!
Message & Song: The sermon is a continuation of the proclamation of God’s Word. Pastor Bud generally preaches on one of the remaining two lectionary texts that weren’t read prior to the sermon. The message gives us a chance to both read Scripture and study it in-depth. The song afterwards acts as our response to the Scripture we have just heard. It presents us with the chance to praise God and/or express our desire to obey and ask for His help in doing so. The song acts as an “amen” that we offer up as we affirm the goodness and rightness of God, as revealed in the Scripture that we have just read and studied.
Congregational Prayer: This time of prayer is spoken on behalf of the whole congregation. While it’s also important to come to God with personal requests, the primary purpose of this specific time is to engage in intercessory prayer. In this type of prayer, we come before God as an intercessory priest comes to God on others’ behalf. In this time, we pray not only for our congregation and loved ones, but also for our world. It’s a unifying and beautiful privilege to join together and bring each other before God’s throne.
Communion & Song: At CRMC, we celebrate Communion the last Sunday of every month. The Lord’s Supper is a beautiful act that God uses to nourish, comfort, challenge, and sustain us. In it we remember everything that God has done for us—especially through Jesus. We celebrate God’s intimate presence with us and how God has given us an identity and transformed us. Participating in Communion is also an act of joyful hope, as it mirrors the feast we will one day all share in heaven. The Lord’s Supper is never an end in itself but a means that points us to God and His covenantal faithfulness. While Communion is deeply personal, it is also communal, as we share this time in unity with not only our own church family, but with all believers. What a beautiful time to bask in God’s goodness and recommit our hearts to following His ways! (Information was taken from The Worship Sourcebook.)
Sending/Blessing & Song: The Sending/Blessing acts as the conclusion that draws together everything we have heard throughout the worship service. It often helps answer the question, “Now that I’ve heard God’s Word, where do I go from here?” The Sending/Blessing gives us a final reminder before we leave the sanctuary and usually includes both a charge to live in obedience to the Word we have heard and a blessing as we go out into the world.
Our worship services follow a specific order of worship that is based on a lectionary and the Christian Calendar. We do this in order to help us maintain balance in our worship that is centered around the whole of Scripture, rather than personal whims or preference. We invite you to continue reading to learn more about this foundational approach to our worship.
Each week, our worship service is centered around the four Scripture passages. We get these texts from a lectionary (a collection of Scripture readings designated for each worship service of the year). Our lectionary has a three-year cycle that focuses on a different gospel each year. Each week contains a reading from the Old Testament, a psalm, a passage from the New Testament, and a gospel reading. These four readings compliment each other, and their themes follow the seasons of the church year. In the first half of the church year, we focus on the major events in Jesus’ life (His birth, death, reasurrection, and the start of the Church). The second half of the year follows Jesus’ actions and teachings. (Information was taken from the article “Lectionary-Based Faith Formation” from ministrymatters.com.)
The early Church carefully created a calendar to help us remember and re-tell the story of God’s redemption each year. As shown in the illustration, the first half of the church year walks through Jesus’ life: the anticipation of His coming (Advent), His birth (Christmas), mission of redemption (Epiphany), crucifixion (Lent), resurrection (Easter), and ascension (Pentecost). The second half of the year focuses on Jesus’ teachings and the story of God’s people throughout Scripture.
Following the Christian calendar reminds us to see every season through spiritual lenses. For example, the 50 days we take to celebrate Easter give us a chance to study and understand more deeply the beautiful implications that Jesus’ resurrection has on our lives and world, instead of trying to fit that all into one day. (Information was taken from Corey Widmer and thirdrva.org.)