Last week I shared a bit about the Psalms and how we’re attempting to sing the Psalms in our services. This week we’re going to return to the question, “what story are we telling in our worship?” Is it the Gospel which is shaping and forming us through our corporate worship?
So, here was our Order of Service for this past Sunday, September 11, 2016:
Call to Worship: Psalm 147:1-5
“Almighty God” (Tim Hughes)
Service of the Word:
“Our God Alone” (The Brilliance)
“Our Messiah Reigns” (Glenn Packiam)
Sermon: Fall Vision Casting
Response: [Service of the Table]
Communion Opening Scripture & Prayer
“We Give You Thanks” (All Sons & Daughters)
Communion Closing Prayer
“This I Believe (The Creed)” (Hillsong)
Now, this past Sunday was slightly different than one of our regular services in that it was our Fall kick-off/Vision Casting Sunday. This didn’t drastically change our approach to planning our worship, however, there were a few strategic choices that I think added some nuance to our ‘regular’ form of worship and emphasized the need for God’s guidance as we enter a new season of ministry.
First of all, as we gathered for worship, we began with Psalm 147 which proclaims how good and right it is for God’s people to sing a psalm to him. We concluded the reading with vs 5 which declares that God’s understanding is infinite. This led us into the song, Almighty God, which continues with the theme that he is “above and beyond understanding” and is a also song of praise for God’s works of creation; always a good place to begin.
Moving beyond the gathering and into the service of the Word, we sang Our God Alone which picks up with the creation themes of Almighty God and moves on to talk about Christ’s work of redemption and the promise of his return and the coming Kingdom. This brought us to the place where we could proclaim that Our Messiah Reigns as we look forward to the day when “every knee will bow” in worship before the throne of Christ.
So, hopefully you can see how this single scripture reading and these three songs walked us right from creation all the way to recreation!
Now, as we prepared for the sermon, this is where we sang our Psalm for this Sunday. Because I knew this would be a Vision Casting sermon, I selected Psalm 23 so that we could proclaim our desire for Jesus to be our shepherd, the one who leads and guides us on the right paths for his name’s sake.
As a response to the sermon, we moved into the service of the table where we could come together in Communion. As we shared together, I intentionally chose a more celebrative song, We Give You Thanks, because, while there are definitely times where it is appropriate to come to the Table with a more reflective, penitential attitude, I thought that this Sunday, as we look forward to what God will do through MBC, we could remember Jesus with a sense of rejoicing. Also, while we normally celebrate Communion on the first Sunday of each month, we intentionally moved Communion to line up with our Vision Casting Sunday as a way of saying that our vision needs to be anchored on the person and work of Jesus. This was another reason why we sang Psalm 23: as our vision is led and guided by Jesus, the Good Shepherd, he is the one who “prepares a table before [us] in the presence of [our] enemies.” As long as he is the one who leads us and the one who sustains us, we have nothing to fear!
We then concluded our service by singing the Apostle’s Creed via Hillsong’s This I Believe (the Creed) as a way of confessing and declaring the faith that we are called and commissioned to proclaim as we are sent out from our time of corporate worship.
There are many other aspects of the service that I could highlight — like the fact that, while God may be “above and beyond understanding”, he has chosen to make himself understandable and comprehensible through the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus … or, as one of our team members astutely observed, we began by singing “if we will not praise…” but moved on to proclaim that “every knee will bow…” — but, for this week, I think we can leave it at this.
My deepest desire is that, as you see how intentional we strive to be in leading worship, you will continue to plunge deeper and deeper into the depths of the Gospel story we seek to proclaim so that it becomes the very foundation of your desires and a Spirit-led source of transformation in your life.