What is Worship?

In his encounter with the woman of Samaria, Jesus explained that "God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth." (John 4:24). The reason Jesus says true worshipers must worship in this way is because God Himself "is spirit". Here we discover the simple yet profound principle that true worship is a response to God as He has personally revealed Himself. Conformity to God's character is the key to true worship. "Great is the LORD", as the psalmist puts it, "and greatly to be praised" (Psalm 48:1)! In worship, we seek to reflect this divine reality, declaring with our lips and demonstrating with our lives that God is supremely precious and therefore worthy to receive all glory and honor and praise.

St. Paul’s Worship

ENTERING GOD’S PRESENCE

We gather in response to God’s call to worship, joyfully offering praise to the Father, Son, and, Holy Spirit. With reverence and awe, we confess our sins and receive God’s forgiveness which is declared in Jesus’ name.

Choral Introit: A musical prelude prepares us, body and soul, to meet and be met by the Creator and Redeemer of all things.

Call to Worship: Worship begins when God Himself, through the pastor ministering in his name, summons his people to the praise of his glory.

Hymn of Praise: We respond to God’s call with a hymn of praise. The choir often processes through the midst of the congregation during this hymn, symbolizing our participation in the great celestial throng of saints and angels who never stop praising God before his throne on high.

Prayer of Adoration: In this opening prayer, God is adored for who He is as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and what He has done as the Creator and Redeemer of all things.

Prayer of Confession: We cannot see God high and lifted up without acknowledging our sinfulness before Him. We kneel to reflect this reality, asking God to forgive us for Jesus’sake.

Scripture Reading: Worship is a dialogue. God speaks to his people. We stand to hear and respond to his voice. The first Scripture reading, which often reflects some special aspect of the day or season, is chosen in conjunction with the sermon text and therefore contributes to the focus of the worship service.

Pronouncement of Forgiveness: Having confessed our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. The pastor boldly declares this truth with authority in Jesus’ name.

Hymn of Thanksgiving: In grateful response to the pronouncement of forgiveness, we stand to sing and celebrate God’s grace.

RENEWING OUR FAITH

Worship continues with a focus on God’s word. Our faith is renewed as we publically confess the truth of God, join our hearts and voices in prayers and hymns of praise to God, and hear the good news of God powerfully proclaimed.

Affirmation of Faith: God has spoken to us. The dialogue continues as we reaffirm our faith in Him, publicly expressing our allegiance to the authority of his word, and articulating our understanding of some portion of its truth. The affirmation, which is typically taken from one of the great Reformed catechisms or confessions (e.g., Westminster, Heidelberg, or Belgic), is chosen in light of the sermon text and therefore contributes to the focus of the worship service.

Prayers of the People: We kneel before the Lord who hears our prayers of intercession (for others) and supplication (for ourselves) in Jesus’ name. We pray so as to keep both the universal needs of God’s world and our particular needs as God’s people in focus.

Pastoral Prayer: This prayer may include elements of adoration, confession, and thanksgiving, but special attention is given to the needs of our local congregation. As a shepherd of the flock, the pastor prays that God would work in our midst.

Choral Anthem: The music sung by the choir underscores the truth of God’s word or may extend the prayers of the people in song. Sometimes this anthem is simply an outpouring of praise and adoration. Through music, we adorn the worship of God with beauty.

Gloria Patri: Literally, “Glory to the Father.” This short hymn of praise ascribes glory to God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Scripture Reading: God speaks as the Scripture text for the morning sermon is read. We stand to hear and respond to his voice.

Prayer for Illumination: The pastor asks that God, who inspired his word, would illumine his Word as it is proclaimed and applied in the sermon. This prayer is a plea that God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” would open our eyes to the light of his glory in the face of Jesus Christ.

Proclamation of the Word: God speaks as the Scriptures are explained and applied to our lives. Although topical sermons may sometimes be preached, our normal practice is to hear expository sermon series through larger portions or whole books of the Bible.

RESPONDING IN THANKS

As hearing becomes doing, we respond to the proclamation of God’s Word. Songs of praise continue to be raised and the gifts and offerings of God’s people are collected. On Communion Sundays we are invited to celebrate the Lord’s Supper. With God’s blessing upon us, we are sent into the world to love and serve the risen Lord Jesus Christ!

Hymn of Response: This hymn is sung in grateful response to the truth proclaimed in the sermon.

Giving to God & Offertory: The God who gives to us also gives through us. During the offertory, recipients of God’s grace are invited to become participants in his generosity.

Doxology: Literally, “a word of glory.” We continue to praise God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Prayer of Dedication: This prayer consecrates our gifts and lives to the cause of Christ and to the extension of his kingdom, for the glory of God and the joy of all peoples.

Celebration of Communion: On Communion Sundays (normally the first Sunday of the month) we celebrate the Lord’s Supper. The pastors, elders, and deacons of the church serve the congregation as they come forward pew by pew. Parents are invited to come with their covenant children so that the officers of the church may pray with and for them. After the Supper is served, a special offering is taken for the Deacons Fund to help those who are in need.

Benediction: God, through the pastor, pronounces his blessing upon us and reassures us that He will be with us now and forever. It’s appropriate for us to raise our hands and receive God’s blessing with joy at this time.

Sending Forth: With God’s blessing, we are sent forth to love and serve the risen Lord Jesus Christ.

Postlude: Music is played to encourage us as we go forward to serve Christ in the world.

FAQ - COMMON QUESTIONS