Response to the Word of God
When we began this short series of articles looking at the shape of our Sunday worship, the point was made that the structure of the service has a three-fold pattern:
As was pointed out in that earlier article, this structure reflects the fact that even when Holy Communion is not celebrated, still our services follow the pattern of the Communion Service.
Once we have listened to Gods word read and preached, we respond to God and to the reading and preaching of his Word in a few moments of silent reflection following the sermon, in professing the Churchs faith in the words of the Creed, in our prayers for the Church and the world, in the offering of our gifts and ourselves in Gods service, and in our being sent forth into the world with Gods blessing.
This pattern reminds us that it is only in response to God and his Word that we are enabled to profess faith, bring our prayers for others and go out into the world to share in Gods mission.
The Creed (which is usually the Apostles Creed, with the Nicene Creed used when we celebrate the sacrament of Holy Communion) is not simply our individual profession of faith; it is a proclamation of the faith of the church.
Our Prayers for the Church and the World usually include a repeated response in which the congregation join.
The Offering is of course the time when our financial gifts for Gods work are received and presented. As many members give by means of bankers standing order, small offering cards are available at the entrance to the church to enable folks still to place something in the offering bag to indicate our giving and include that in our worship as part of our self-offering to God. As the offering is brought forward we all stand, indicating that we are offering our lives anew to God.
There then follows the Prayer of Thanksgiving in which we thank God for his goodness to us in Jesus Christ and for his many blessings. This prayer concludes with all saying together the Lords Prayer.
And so, having brought our prayers, our gifts, ourselves and our thanks to God, we sing the final hymn and go out into the world as Gods people, blessed by him.
Once a month we celebrate the Sacrament of Holy Communion in this section of our service and this is also the part in our worship where Baptisms or Confirmations take place, and we will return to these next month. But even where the service does not include the celebration of Communion, the sacrament is deliberately recalled in the pattern of our worship.
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