Why We Do What We Do in Worship

Why We Do What We Do in Worship

On Sunday, February 4th, we infused some worship education into our 9:30 service. Below is a summary of the information shared with the congregation.


The prelude is the first act of worship and sets the tone for what is to follow, inviting worshipers to transition from their busy lives into a sacred place of communion with God and with each other.  Following the prelude, we many times include a musical piece called an “introit” The Introit is usually celebratory in nature with the aim of fostering unity of those gathered,


Now, we call each other into worship by offering a prayer, many times responsive in nature, that gives thanks and praise to God, expresses joy in the presence of Christ, and calls for the gifts  of the Spirit to be poured out upon the gathered community. Many times, a psalm is appropriate. 

An opening hymn follows the call to worship. The Greek for hymn, “Hymnos,” translates to “song to praise,” and this song is usually of a celebratory and welcoming nature. 


We have praised the holiness and perfection of God, and now we must also face the sinful state of the world, including our own shortcomings. We talk with God as a community, confessing things with which all humans struggle. We offer our confession with the confidence that through the mercy  of Jesus Christ, we are forgiven. Therefore, we respond with assurance and thankfulness for God’s grace, usually in the form of music. 


Listening to God’s Word is an act of worship; we want Him to speak to us, and He wants us to listen to what He has to say. We are able to identify with the followers of Jesus through the written word and to use what we learn about their relationships and ministries to share our own lives. Before reading scripture, we offer a prayer for illumination, calling on the Holy Spirit to empower our understanding, proclaiming, and living of God’s Word. 


At times the service, a band, instrumental group, or choir offers special music. The intention of these ensembles is to represent the congregation’s voices of thanksgiving, and the song choice often reinforces the teaching of the day or recognizes the liturgical season.  Having a choir or band of instruments isn’t about good musicians putting on a superb recital in the middle of the service. It is much deeper than entertainment, even if we sometimes burst into applause. 


Statements of faith are “we believe” statements. We affirm the beliefs we hold up as Trinitarian Christians. Some creeds are thousands of years old, such as the Nicene and Apostles’ Creeds, while others are newly written as the church’s response to current events in the world, such as the Barmen and Belhar Confession during World War II and apartheid, respectively. Expressing our common beliefs are especially important on communion Sundays to prepare us to feast at the Table. 

Every Sunday, we have the opportunity to give an  offering. Since God has given so freely to us, we are called to offer our talents, time, money, and material goods back to his Kingdom. 


Communion is one of the two sacraments of our faith (the other one being baptism), Jesus invites us to his table; not the church’s or denominations table.. The Words of Institution (“On the night he was betrayed, Jesus took bread…”) are spoken to remind us that it was Jesus’ wish for us to take the bread and cup as a remembrance. In the PCUSA, we welcome all those who believe in Jesus as Savior and those who are interested in a deeper relationship with Jesus to take communion. 


We close the service preparing ourselves to go into the world and witness to God’s love and faithfulness. The final congregational song either reinforces the message theme or speaks to earthly mission. The pastor offers a benediction, or closing charge and blessing, to the congregation. The final act of worship, is the postlude, which offers a transition from the sacred back to the into our varied lives.