Why Do We Do That?

 

At Edgington EPC our worship could fairly be characterized as traditional and liturgical because we believe that the styles and patterns of worship matter greatly. As such, everything we do in our worship services is carefully planned and considered in light of the teaching of Scripture as to what is acceptable worship in Spirit and Truth (John 4:23). Here, you'll find a list of the elements of our weekly service with a short explanation to help you understand why we do it, and what it means. We hope it will enrich your worship of the Lord.

 

Prelude: Remembering that the Psalms describe worship as an assembly in the presence of God (Ps 95:6; 96:8; 99:5, 9; 132:7) the Prelude is a time for silent reflection and preparation before the congregation appears before God. During these few moments, an atmosphere of reverence should be established and maintained by all present in the sanctuary. Prayer, the reading of Scripture and simple quietness are appropriate activities as the Church anticipates God’s call into His presence.

Call to Worship: This is an affirmation of God’s majesty which implies a due response from His creatures. Normally, the minister will use a Psalm for the Call to Worship. As the Psalm recounts some of God’s wonderful attributes or mighty works, those assembled are reminded of His perfections and encouraged to honor and praise the Lord with thanksgiving for His excellence. Through the call to worship, God Himself invites and exhorts His gathered people to worship.  From beginning to end this worship is to be Trinitarian; that is, directed to God the Father, through the mediation of the Son, in the power of the Holy Spirit.

First Hymn: Having been reminded of their standing before God and having heard His greatness extolled in the Call to Worship, the congregation now joins in singing a hymn of praise. Since hymns are a means of declaring truths about God and our relationship with Him, it is our belief that, above all else, they should be theologically precise. Hymns should restate the truths of Scripture plainly and faithfully. Therefore, we make use of hymn selections in which the music complements and supports, but does not obscure or compete with, a message marked by Biblical fidelity.

Public Confession: By this point in our worship, we have declared in both word and song many of the wonderful attributes and works of God. In such a context, reflection upon one’s own character is inevitable. Therefore, we include a Public Confession, which is a corporate acknowledgement of a plain truth: although we are redeemed, in this life we continue to sin. This Confession is necessitated, as noted, by the obvious contrast to be observed between God’s holy nature, declared in various ways previously, and our conduct, which daily contradicts His law. Moreover, this Confession of Sin reminds us of our duty to live in a manner which brings honor to God. The Public Confession, then, is also an affirmation regarding the status of the Word of God as our rule for faith and conduct.

Assurance of Pardon: Immediately following our Public Confession of sin, the minister reads an appropriate portion of Scripture in which the fact of our pardon in and through the Savior is declared. This reading by the minister is God’s response to our Confession of Sin; it is a promise to His people that their sins have been paid for by Another and that they, therefore, are acceptable in Christ before Him.

The Gloria Patri: In brief, Trinitarian formulas put to music have been sung since the early centuries of the Church.  To sing them is a glorious expression of our faith in the Triune God and of our unity with the Church throughout the ages.

The Affirmation of Faith: Corporate creedal recitation is another important element of public worship.  A confession or creed is a concise statement of Christian belief (credo = I believe).  The Apostles' Creed and the Nicene Creed are historic creeds that have been confessed publicly by Christians for over 1500 years.  The creed functions not only as a bold public confession of the Church's fundamental beliefs but also as a didactic tool that weekly reinforces the true nature of God and His gospel. Each week, we use samples taken from the Westminster and Heidelberg along with other theologically rich and instructive historical confessions of faith.

The Public Reading of Scripture: The reading of Scripture is a non-negotiable element of public worship. With the exception of a brief introduction, the text is read without comment in accordance with the instructions of the Apostle Paul: “Give attention to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation and teaching.” (1 Tim. 4:13) This act of reading the Word without comment emphasizes our conviction that the written Word of God is authoritative and sufficient.

The Preaching of God's Word: Preaching is the central act in the divine drama of biblical worship.  It is no less than God communicating Christ to His covenant people.  God's people are spiritually nourished upon the divine Word.  The proclamation of the Word of God is the primary instrument employed by the Holy Spirit to unite the elect to Christ, thereby causing in them both spiritual life (regeneration) and growth (sanctification). (1 Peter 1: 3; 23 – 2:3; 1Corinthians 1:21)

Second Hymn: Following the Preaching of God’s Word, a second hymn is sung. Normally, this selection highlights some aspect of the work or character of Jesus Christ. Throughout the worship, prayers are made in the name of the Savior and other indications are given that our assembly before God is directly related to the ministry of the God-Man.

Collection of Offering: The practice of an offering has to do with God’s creatures returning to Him a representative share of what He sees fit to give us. From the opening pages of Scripture, it is clear that men understood their obligation to recognize and worship the Creator by giving to Him the first portion of their increase. Giving an offering has the beneficial effect of helping us understand who we are and what our responsibilities are in relation to the One who made and sustains us. The offering declares our awareness of God and the implications of His existence; it demonstrates who is worthy of honor and who is obligated to give honor.

Singing of the Doxology: The Doxology is a short hymn expressing praise (doxa means “glory” or “praise”) to the Triune God—Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It represents and concludes in worshipful song which is expressed in the presentation of our tithes and offerings to God.

Pastoral Prayer: One of the great privileges which belong to the redeemed of God is that of making our petitions known to Him. In this prayer, the minister presents before God the needs and desires of the congregation. It is incumbent upon him to keep in mind, of course, Biblical guidelines and examples related to proper form and content. As this prayer comes in the context of formal corporate worship, it represents the interests of the congregation as a whole.

Final Hymn: Our final hymn highlights some aspect of our blessed standing in Christ and encourages us to return with confidence to our callings having been refreshed, reassured and instructed in the presence of the Lord.

Benediction: The Benediction is a blessing pronounced upon the worshipers by the minister. In essence, the Benediction concludes the worship service as it was begun, that is, with a declaration of our favored standing before God. The Benediction also attests that the worshipers go forth with God’s mercy resting upon them as they return to the faithful pursuit of their callings.