Sunday, July 15, 2007

The Gospel Flow of Worship

The word liturgy means “the work of the people.” As such, all worship services are liturgical if they include any congregational participation. The issue is not whether a service is liturgical or not; the issue is what organizes and informs the liturgy and on what basis.

The order of worship that we employ at Parish Pres consciously seeks to accomplish several aims. As you’ve probably noticed, each section of the bulletin begins with God and His initiation. It is God who calls His people to worship, it is God who speaks to us through His Word, it is God who calls us to repentance and reconciliation, it is God who beckons us to His table, and it is God who sends us out equipped for the calling He has placed on us. It’s all about Him!

It is God who calls us, but as His people we respond with praise, attentive hearts, confession, joy, and thanksgiving. This pattern of call and response is one of the reasons we utilize Scripture-based responsive readings in worship. God calls us through His Word, and we literally respond with His words.

This pattern of worship moves the congregation from an exaltation of the nature of God, instruction from His Word, an understanding of His law and our inability to keep it, confession of sin and the need for a Redeemer, a restoration into the fellowship of God and other believers, a foretaste of the Marriage Supper of the Lamb, and a sending forth into the world as His representative. Thus, the worship service itself echoes the Gospel—God calls unbelievers to Himself, reveals Himself through His Word, repentance follows with an invitation to the Marriage Feast culminating with God sending forth the believer into the world. This is the flow of the gospel; this is the flow of worship.

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