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Week 4

Liturgical Note: Each week the service is arranged around both the liturgical season as well as a theme or point of emphasis within that season. Generally, the Collect of the day announces the theme, the Epistle grounds the theme in Scripture, the Gospel reading relates the theme to the liturgical season, and the hymns reflect the theme and season. As such, each week, God’s people are reminded of the major event of redemption in view during that season as well as a way that event is to apply to everyday life.

 

Liturgical location: We have entered God’s house to worship; we have heard what God requires of His people in the Law; and we have turned to God for His mercy and grace to fulfill those requirements in us. At this point the preparatory work for worship has ended. We know the focus, the standard, and the source of Worship.

 

F] The Collect (or prayer) of the Day:

                    The Lord be with you

                    And with thy spirit

                    Let us pray                      

 

Notice at once, as the service turns to the Ministry of God’s Word (proper), the salutation is reissued. Why? The Ministry of the Word is the first major section of the worship we have come to offer.  Therefore, we renew our mutual responsibility and our mutual dependence on God’s grace to fulfill that responsibility. Importance: the repetition of the salutation reminds me that the ministry of God’s Word is not something I passively observe. Rather, it is something that I actively offer along with the rest of God’s people.

 

Next, notice that immediately after the salutation, the Collect of the day is prayed. Importance: in corporate worship a prayer is often called a “Collect” because it serves as the collective prayer of God’s people. Notice that once again we see liturgy is the work of the people. The collect is not a prayer said for the people. Rather, it is a prayer offered by the people. That is, the people do not sit passively by and listen. Rather, they actively participate, joining their own faith and ascent to the prayer being offered. Notice then, it is for this reason that the collect is printed in the prayer book so that each person may participate. Also, note it is for this reason that the prayer concludes with a corporate “amen”. In other words, we all say amen because we have all been praying the prayer.

 

Finally, notice the way the collect demonstrates an important role of the liturgy within the lives of God’s people. The collect serves both to express and inform the prayers of God’s people. It not only summarizes the prayers of the congregation during worship but it also informs the believer’s ongoing prayers throughout the week. How? It reminds us of biblical themes, desires, and objectives that our own individual prayers are to include.

 

G] The Epistle:

Next, the service turns its focus to Scripture. Why? It is through the ministry of God’s Word that God’s people are taught, examined, directed, and assured in the Faith. Remember, Scripture is God’s Word. It is breathed out by God (inspired), without error (inerrant), protected by God’s providence for the ages, the final authority for all life and doctrine, and is to be believed for salvation by all mankind. In it God reveals who He is, who man is, and what life is. All understanding and study, all thought, desire, and action are to be based on, directed by, and assessed according to God’s Word. As such, God’s Word is the governing element in His people’s life and worship.

 

Notice then, in the liturgy, the Ministry of God’s Word comes first. Why? God’s Word is our standard.

·       It is only through hearing and believing God’s Word that we are saved and enter into fellowship with God.

Romans 10:17 faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.

·       The new life, grace, and hope that we have in Christ are revealed by Scripture.

·       We are to examine ourselves according to the measure of Scripture. 

·       Finally, the blessings of the New Covenant that we receive at the Table are those described by God’s Word (the promises of Scripture are what you receive at the Table).

Notice then the way the two major portions of the service (the Ministry of Word and the Ministry of Sacrament) work together: by believing God’s word we gain entrance to the fellowship of the Table. By studying God’s Word we gain understanding of the blessings enjoyed at the Table. By partaking of the Table we are nourished and drawn deeper into the new life proclaimed by God’s Word.

 

Finally, it is vital to note that even during the reading of the Epistle and the Gospel, liturgy remains the work of the people. Notice then, the readings for each week are included in the Prayer Book and thus placed in the hands of the people. Why? The believer is not to be a passive hearer of God’s Word. Rather, he is to be an active participant. He is to attentively listen or read along, responding to the Scripture with faith and self-examination (which is his offering during this portion of the service). Notice then the response at the end of the Epistle reading, “Thanks be to God” (as well as those at the beginning and end of the Gospel reading) give corporate expressions to the believer’s faithful response and join it to that of the rest of God’s people

 

G] Hymn #2 and the Gospel Reading:

Notice at once that the reading of the Gospel in the middle isle of the church is a stunning ceremony of the Reformation. In response to the corrupt practices of the middle ages in which the whole service and all the readings were in Latin, this liturgical motion stresses the fact that the Gospel is God’s Word for God’s people. Thus, the procession of the Gospel into the midst of the congregation to be read in their native tongue symbolizes the Gospel coming to God’s people and then through them going out into the world.

Notice then, the Gospel is processed out but it is not processed back in. Instead, the movement back to the altar is merely an incidental movement of the service. In other words, the Gospel is brought to God’s people and left with them that they might take it out into the world.

 

Furthermore, by bowing during the procession we are expressing our obligation and submission to Christ and His Word. That is, by bowing we are once again joining in the procession, this time as followers of God’s word (i.e. as those to whom the word is given, by whom it is believed, and through whom it is to be proclaimed).

Notice the way the service is summarized by the motion of the three processions: We enter the Church to worship, we are nourished according to God’s Word, and then we leave the Church to serve God and proclaim His Gospel

Finally, the Gospel is bracketed by a hymn that expresses our joy and thanksgiving for the Gospel as well as informs and directs our response to the Gospel.

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