Sunday, May 15, 2011

Sunday Worship Is Now A Much Anticipated, Participatory Event

Today, during our Sunday Church Service, I realized once again why worshipping regularly is important to maintaining spiritual fitness. I didn’t always feel this way.

There was a time when going to church was more or less another entertainment opportunity – great music, good singing, some random Scripture verses and an engaging sermon. I really like thought-provoking sermons.

The difficulty for me, however, was that no matter how great the music or the sermon, the effect lasted only until about Tuesday night, or maybe even Wednesday. The rest of the week was downhill in a spiritual sense.

All of this has changed in recent years since my wife and I started attending a Lutheran Church – one which has tried and true hymns of the faith, lots of participatory recitation, and – gasp – liturgy. I had been raised to think of liturgy as a form of “vain repetitions.” I have discovered that liturgy (at least in the Lutheran venue) is anything but that.

Simply, I have come to understand liturgy as a prescribed set of components for worship. I find that our liturgy organizes and guides us through the important aspects of a full worship experience. Much of it goes back to early church practices, and various forms of liturgy are practiced around the world in Christendom. Almost all of our liturgy is taken directly from the Scriptures.

Of course different churches and different denominations vary in the practice of liturgy in worship, but most contain some or all of the following elements:
Confession and forgiveness – via prayers and silent moments
Praise – recited (using actual Scriptures) or sung as music
Scripture Lessons – selected readings from the Old Testament, New Testament, the Gospels or the Psalms
Prayers – thanks, adoration, petition, on behalf of others, or for our own spiritual journey
Sermon – usually an amplification of, or related to the Scripture Lessons
Creeds – corporate recitation and endorsement of our ancient creeds of faith, such as the Apostle’s Creed
Offering – giving back to God for His use, from the abundance He has given us
Sacrament of Holy Communion – A celebration of reverence, adoration, forgiveness, joy and thanksgiving where God works in us and we are empowered to “go in peace to love and serve the Lord.” It is one of the oldest and least-changed elements of the Liturgy. For me, it is the “power source” of my faith. The image above, btw, is Da Vinci’s “Last Supper”
Benediction – we are sent out to live out the Gospel in word and deed in a world of need

Week after week, as these rudiments of worship are observed and practiced, the Gospel comes alive within us and we are sustained as active and viable followers of Christ. Thanks be to God.

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