Over the past number of posts, I’ve shared a bit of my journey into the world of worship renewal, talked about the power that stories have to influence us, and last week I explained how true Biblical worship seeks to draw each one of us into the story of God.
This post is the first in what will be a series of posts entitled, “The Story this Week,” in which I will attempt to demonstrate how our previous Sunday’s worship was intended to both proclaim and participate in the Gospel Story.
Now, this past Sunday was fairly unique because it was our “KidsWeek Sunday.” All throughout the week we had hundreds of children from our church and the community coming to participate in our Mighty Mountaineers themed kids camp. It was an absolutely amazing week and, as we often do, we carried the theme and the momentum from the week over into our Sunday worship as a celebration of all that God had done.
The temptation with Sundays like this is to set aside all of our normal worship practices and, just for one week, throw a bunch of fun songs together regardless of how they fit or what they communicate.
I think it goes without saying that this is not the approach we took.
Instead, I used a number of songs from KidsWeek and, by arranging them in a certain order and with the insertion of specific scripture readings, was at least somewhat successful in telling the Story of God while also celebrating KidsWeek.
So, this past week, August 21st, our Sunday worship unfolded like this:
Call to Worship: Psalm 71:22-23
“Hands of Love” (Crowder, Philpott, Stevens)
“Always Will” (Cook, Snell, Rogers)
Service of the Word:
Scripture of Confession/Assurance: Ps. 71:1-6
“Search my Heart” (Crocker, Houston)
“God Who Saves” (Knock)
Sermon: Purity & God’s Will
“You will Never Run” (Rend Collective)
Is it perfect? Nope.
However, through the use of these songs and these scriptures, can we discern the key elements of the Gospel Story? Yes! Absolutely!
Through this order of worship, this is what I was hoping to communicate:
Our opening Call to Worship, from Ps. 71, is pretty standard stuff, calling God’s people to praise him through music (vs. 22) “because You have redeemed me” (vs. 23). So, what does this redemption look like?
Well, the story of redemption starts at the beginning. As it says in the first song we sang, Hands of Love, “In His hands that hung the sky… in His hands that hold the stars… in His hands, He’s holding us.” The one who holds us and redeems us is the God of Creation.
Then, as we continue to tell The Story, we recognise our own fallenness and the single source of hope for redemption. These themes can be seen in a number of key phrases from the song, Always Will: “When I’m lost… in the fire, there’s always hope… When I fall, You are there… all my hope, in Christ alone.” This song carries us from the Gathering portion of the service into the Service of the Word where we specifically focus on Jesus’ works of redemption.
This week, we used another portion of Ps. 71 as our cry to God that we are in need of his saving. We read verses 1-6 where we call out for rescue and deliverance (vs. 2, 4), we proclaim that God is our refuge (vs. 3), and that he is our only source of confidence and hope (vs. 5). Directly paired with this scripture, we sang Search my Heart which, of course, is a call for God to search us and reveal to us those areas of our lives that need to be confessed and transformed so that we can live lives of obedience and worship.
Leading into the sermon, we concluded with one final song which assures us that, as we come to God in confession and hope, he is the God Who Saves: “You are the Way, the Truth, and the Life / Your mercy has overcome our failings / The battle is won / Jesus, in love you reign… You’re the God who saves / You’re the hope of all / reaching out Your hand / as Your people call.”
All of this, along with the sermon which challenged us to live lives of purity according to God’s will, requires a Response. This response is initiated by our pastoral prayer as we bring the concerns of our community to before God in prayer, as well as in our tangible commitment to God, done through sacrificial giving.
The final song we sang on Sunday was You Will Never Run which, echoing Deut. 31:6/Heb. 13:5, promises us that, no matter where we go or what situations we find ourselves in, God is stronger than those circumstances and will never leave us.
Assured of God’s continued presence in our lives, we concluded our time of worship in prayer, reminding us of God’s will and commissioning us to to lives of worship, obedience, and mission.
So, there you have it!
It’s not the perfect liturgy by any stretch, but I hope this example gives you an idea of what we’re hoping to proclaim each week and that, by understanding the diverse ways we seek to retell the Biblical Story, you can be drawn into worship in a deeper, more meaningful way.