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Week 2

Liturgical Principle: The movements and actions of the Service represent the movements and actions of your heart. As such these outward movements:

·       Prompt your individual devotion.

·       Explain or underscore the essential nature of that particular devotion

·       Finally, the outward movements give corporate expression to the worship offered by the entire congregation.

Bottom line: the outward movements of the service prompt, inform, and unite our devotion.

 

Liturgical Location: You have come to church expecting to actively participate in worship. Prior to the service you have undertaken a time of sacred preparation. The preparation concludes and now the service begins.

 

I. The Ministry of the Word

 

A] Opening Sentence

Notice at once that the start of worship is announced with an opening sentence of Scripture. This sentence serves as a call to worship. As such, it reminds us that worship does not originate in man’s decision but God’s call. We worship because God has commanded/called all creation to worship Him. In other words, worship is not a favor we do for God nor is it optional. Rather, worship is what we owe God as His creatures. Second, the opening sentence reminds us that God determines how God is to be worshiped. God calls us to worship according to His Word.  Therefore, we ready ourselves to worship by fixing God’s Word as our standard. Third, the opening sentence reminds us that we worship by God’s grace not by our own merit. Therefore, we come to worship by turning to God for His mercy and renewal.

 

B] Hymn and Procession

Next, the service begins with a formal procession and with a great Hymn of praise. Importance: notice at once the procession is our response to God’s call. Not only that, notice the way we begin the service sets the tone for the entire worship and establishes the attitude we are to have as we enter God’s house. We begin with a formal procession and a Hymn of praise. In other words, God’s presence and favor are not to be treated lightly or approached casually. Instead, we are to come with the reverence and celebration due the God of all creation. [A community visited by the president will put its best foot forward. Their respect is reflected in the thought, preparation, and care that they put into the event]

 

Not only that notice, we proceed under the banner of our King (the processional cross). The processional cross serves as both a profession of our allegiance (we belong to Christ and come in His name) as well as an indication of our dependence (we approach not on our merits but His).

 

Next, notice as the cross passes it is customary to bow. However, please note: when we bow before the cross we are not reverencing (worshiping) an object or thing. Rather, we are responding in our hearts to its declaration.  In other words, our bowing says this too is our banner, we too are Christ’s people, covered in Christ’s blood, and we too have come to worship our God. Bowing then is like an outward Amen (remember, amen is an expression of agreement and consent). Therefore, by bowing we are literally joining ourselves to the procession.

 

Notice the result: our bowing reminds us that the procession is something in which each member of the congregation participates (even if on most occasions practical concerns limit the number in the actual line). It is as a church that we come to worship. As such, the outward movement of the procession literally directs the inward movement of our hearts. Each of us is coming into the presences of the Lord to worship, to hear His Word, and to share His Table.

 

Importance: the service opens with the notion of liturgy as the work of the people. Later, at the end of the service we will once again process as a congregation. However, at that time, we process out into the world as God’s witnesses.

 

Finally, remember to bow before a King was literally to offer him your neck (i.e. the whole of your life). Your life was at his disposal to do with as he wished.

 

Bottom line: the motions throughout the service are not just fancy decorations. Rather they are prompts given to indicate what you are to be doing at that point in the service. When you respond and join your heart to the action being represented, you make worship something that you are doing not just something you are attending.

 

Closing thought: Over and again throughout our study we will stress the fact that the liturgy is active. It is the work of the entire people of God (not just the priest). You will not remember every detail of this study. Therefore, it is vital that you remember this one single governing theme:

At every point in the service you are to be doing something.

Not only that if you will listen the service will tell you what that something is (be it “let us pray”, “let us confess our sins”, or “let us hear and receive the reading of God’s Word”).

 

 

 

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