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Week 8

Liturgical Location: We have just finished the sermon and are preparing to take up the offering. Remember, the sermon culminates the Ministry of God’s Word and the Offering begins the Ministry of the Sacrament. Importance: the Ministry of God’s Word always precedes the Ministry of the Sacrament. Why? Scripture is the standard of the whole of the new life (including the Sacraments). As such, the Ministry of the Sacrament is always according to the Ministry of the Word (both how we come and why we come).

 

Liturgy of the Sacrament

 

I. Offering and Doxology:

The Ministry of the Lord’s Table begins with our tithes and offerings. Importance: from the start, we are reminded of the active nature of the sacrament. The believer is not simply a passive recipient of the meal. Rather, he is an active participant at the Table.  As such, each party comes to the Table bringing what is his to give.

 

Notice then, Christ comes to the Table bringing His grace. You come bringing the broken pieces of your life for Christ to heal. As grace begins to heal you, those portions of your life that you once withheld from God, are now given more and more into His service. Thus, each week you return to the Lord’s house to offer to God the fruit that His grace and mercy have enabled you to bring and to renew your dependence on that grace. Importance: this living dynamic may rightly be called the Eucharistic Cycle and it informs the whole of the believer’s life

2 Corinthians 3:18 But we all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.

 

The giving of our tithes and offerings then is not just collecting cash for various projects. Rather, it is a concrete expression of the fruit we’ve produced serving God throughout the week with all that we are, do, and have. Thus, in a real sense, the giving of tithes and offerings may rightly be seen as the conclusion of last week’s service and the preparation for this week’s service.  

 

Finally, the giving of our tithes and offerings culminates with the singing of the Doxology. In other words, our giving is framed by praise and gratitude. Importance: the Doxology reminds us that what we give is not based on our own merits or ability. Rather, we offer our gifts in thanksgiving, knowing that God’s mercy and grace have provided all that we bring (Praise God from whom all blessings flow).

 

II. Prayer for Christ’s Church

Let us pray for the whole state of Christ’s Church.

As we begin, it is important that we understand what we are being asked to pray for in this prayer. In the call to pray for the Church, the word “whole” does not mean the entire (or universal) Church. Thus the call does not read, “let us pray for the whole or universal Church”. Such would be redundant since Christ’s Church is the entire Church. Instead, the word “whole” refers to the state or condition of the Church. As such, it asks us to pray for the well being, or wholesomeness, or the healthy state of the Church. Thus the call to prayer may be summarized as “Let us pray for the well being of the entire Church”

 

Importance: notice the liturgical flow: as we prepare for the fellowship of the Lord’s Table one of the first things we do is to seek the well being of the entire Church. Why? The fellowship we enter at the Table is a fellowship that extends to all God’s people. Likewise, the grace we receive at the Table is a grace that will accomplish the well being of each and every believer. Notice then, as we approach the Table, our prayers reflect very nature and extent of the Table.

 

A] Prayer of Approach

ALMIGHTY and everliving God, who by thy holy Apostle hast taught us to make prayers, and supplications, and to give thanks for all men; We humbly beseech thee most mercifully to accept our [alms and] oblations, and to receive these our prayers, which we offer unto thy Divine Majesty;       
           

          1) Notice at once that the opening of the prayer bases our requests on the teaching of Scripture. We pray as we have been taught. Importance: at once we are reminded that our prayers and offerings are always to be Scripture directed. That is, we are to seek those things that Scripture bids us seek and to offer God those things that Scripture instructs us to offer.

 

          2) Next notice what we are taught to pray. Scripture teaches us that our prayers are not only to concern our own interest nor even the interest of our local congregation. Rather, we are to pray for all men everywhere. We are to pray for Christians around the world, their ministries, and their needs. We are also to pray for the nations of the world and the leaders of those nations (in particular our own). Finally, we are to pray for unbelievers (especially that they might come to salvation).

1 Timothy 2:1 First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, 2 for kings and all who are in authority, in order that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. 3 This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. (Jer 29:4-7)

Notice then the prayer for unbelievers and secular nations is ultimately a prayer for the mission and witness of the Church (unbelief is our concern). Thus, these requests are included under the Prayer for Christ’s Church. When the Church is healthy it is witnessing.

 

          3) Finally, as we ask God mercifully to accept our offerings and to receive our petitions, this portion of the prayer reminds us that approaching God’s throne is a privilege of His grace. Therefore, we do not come presumptuously nor do we approach God’s throne casually. Rather, we come with great reverence and thankfulness. At the same time, we are also reminded that even our best prayers and offerings are imperfect (“for we do not know how to pray as we should”. Romans 8:26). Therefore, we come asking God’s mercy to correct, cleanse, and accept what He has taught us to bring.

 

Bottom line: the opening portion of the Prayer has established:

·       The source of our prayers (Scripture)

·       The scope of our prayers (all men everywhere)

·       The blessing of prayer (God’s mercy and grace)

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