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NEW SWEDEN COVENANT CHURCH GUIDE TO WORSHIP
What exactly is worship?
To worship God is to bend ourselves to God’s supreme worth. God is both the subject and object of worship, meaning worship is both for God and about God. It is always active and participatory to the extent an individual is willing to be involved. Worship is not something you observe; rather it is something you DO. Worship is both private and public. The church (called the congregation) is instructed by scripture to gather regularly for worship. As we desire and ask God to bless our lives we bow and bend ourselves to the discipline it takes to regularly give him the worship due him. Worship is also celebrative as the congregation together rehearses, relives, and rejoices in its history as the people of God. Worship is also supportive as each person’s presence is an encouragement to another and each person’s absence is felt.
The framework of our worship
The Church Year (sometimes called the Christian Year or Liturgical Year) provides the framework for our worship experience. This annual cycle of seasons is a way of giving a meaningful rhythm to the ongoing worship life of the Church. There are six seasons in the Church year. The first half of the year (which includes the seasons of Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, and Easter) emphasizes the great acts of God in the life of the Church. The second half of the year (made up entirely of the season of Pentecost) emphasizes the response by God’s people for what God has done in Christ. We seek to blend in our worship the richness of tradition with fresh expression. It is hoped that understanding the purpose of the elements of our worship service will make this time more meaningful.
THE CHURCH GATHERS
Prelude: This time of music serves to gather us together and help us prepare to worship. It is meditative for most.
Lighting our candles: Initiates our beginning to focus our attention toward God.
WE ENTER INTO WORSHIP
Welcome and announcements: News of and for the congregation is shared to make us aware of what is taking place in the life of the church and our wider community.
Greeting each other: This is more than a simple hello. We greet others worshiping with us in the name of the Lord.
Introit: A short musical piece. Our choir, individuals, or the congregation invites us, through song, to come and worship.
Ringing of the bell: Signals our opportunity to acknowledge ourselves as present as we stand, worshipers together, before God.
Call to worship: Further signals the beginning of our worship of God and involves all by reading portions in unison.
Hymn of praise: Chosen to further catch our attention and draw us in. Sing with spirit!
Invocation: The purpose of this prayer is to ask God’s blessing on our worship and express confidence that God will open our hearts to his Word.
Lord’s Prayer: This is our opportunity to ask God to set our hearts right by praying the prayer Jesus taught the disciples to pray. It should always be spoken with meaning rather than merely from rote memory.
WE HEAR THE WORD AND RESPOND
The reading and hearing of God’s word. These readings are selected from the lectionary. The lectionary which is used by many Christian traditions provides Bible readings for the Christian year. By following the lectionary texts we emphasize the centrality of the entire Bible in the of all Christians and the Church.
Hymn response: The Congregation’s involvement affirms that the God at work in the people of biblical times is the God at work for human salvation in Jesus Christ and the one who dwells in us in the Holy Spirit.
Music ministry: The choir, an ensemble, or individuals continues our praise of God. We participate by listening and letting God’s Spirit move us through music.
Time of prayer: We begin with a time of silent prayer followed by praising and thanking God. The needs of our congregation, community, and world are then brought to God in prayer. A brief time of quite reflection follows our communal prayer.
Offering: Our opportunity to respond in tangible gratitude for God’s faithfulness to us. It also symbolizes our willingness to offer ourselves in service to the Lord.
Doxology: As our offerings are presented we sing praise to God in recognition that he is the source of our ability to give and that all we have comes from him.
Prayer of dedication: Through prayer we ask God to help us use the offerings to serve humanity through the Church to the glory of his name.
WE FEED ON GOD’S MESSAGE
Hymn of preparation: Prepares us to
listen to what God has to say through the Gospel and the sermon.
The Gospel is read: In respect for the words of Christ and of his life those who are able stand while this text is read.
Sermon or meditation on God’s Word: The proclaiming and teaching of the Word of God by the preacher. Its purpose is to convince, instruct, comfort, encourage, or convict the listener. As a result of the Covenant’s strong emphasis on the Bible as central to our lives the sermon is based on a particular biblical passage or theme. A time of reflection follows the sermon giving people the opportunity to consider the relevance of the message in their lives.
WE ARE SENT INTO THE WORLD
Closing Hymn: Sung as our affirmation of the word we have heard and our commitment to respond positively to it.
Benediction: A blessing or prayer of assurance that God’s presence continues to go with us. Even though the service is ending our worship continues throughout the week.
SOME FINAL WORDS
We celebrate the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper monthly, usually on the first Sunday of the month. We invite everyone who has put their faith in Jesus Christ, regardless of church affiliation, to join us in celebrating the Lord’s Supper.
We continue our worship of God by our fellowship or encouragement of one another. Please join us for light refreshments and friendly conversation following worship.