A Guide to Covenant Renewal Worship at Christ Presbyterian Church
God has made a three-part covenant declaration to his people throughout Biblical history: “I will be your God, you shall be my people, and I will dwell among you.” When the assembled people of God hear this word regarding themselves, God is assuring them that they belong to him, and that he is indeed their God, and that he will dwell in their midst. God is renewing his covenant with his people as we assemble for corporate worship.
We Prepare to Meet With God
The Prelude is a time to settle the hurried and anxious soul as we prepare for worship. It is a time to draw away from the world and turn our thoughts heavenward in anticipation of worship.
God Calls Us
Trinitarian Confession and Salutation
A traditional measure to remind us that our worship is trinitarian and is directed to the Father, through the mediation of the Son, in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Call to Worship
Always drawn from Scripture, the Call to Worship is God himself seeking his redeemed people and calling us to worship, to glorify his holy name. As in all aspects of grace, God takes the initiative.
Psalm or Hymn of Adoration
We respond to God’s call to worship with a song of praise and adoration.
Prayer of Petition and Adoration
God has called us to worship, and we have responded in praise. We now continue to praise his character and his work in prayer, and we ask him to enable us to worship him throughout the service in a biblically appropriate manner.
God Cleanses Us
However, knowing that God is holy and that we are sinful creatures, we must confess that we are unworthy of entering into his presence without his cleansing.
Call to Confession of Sin
A passage of Scripture that reveals our sinfulness and our need for cleansing through Christ.
Corporate Confession of Sin and Supplication for Mercy
In this prayer, we recognize our sinfulness and what God has done for us by his grace through the work of Christ. This is a time of corporate confession of sin as the people of God, so we do not take time to silently confess our personal sins in the service. We should, of course, confess our personal sins at other times and in others places as we walk with God. By confessing our sins to God, we demonstrate a heart that seeks to become more obedient to God’s Word, and less inclined to follow the desires of our flesh and the sinful allurements of our sensationalistic culture.
We customarily enter this portion of worship on our knees (if physically able) as a sign of respect and humility before God. Even if we cannot physically get on our knees, we all bow the knees of our hearts.
Declaration of Forgiveness
The assurance of pardon is a Scriptural affirmation of our confidence that we are indeed forgiven through the infinite love of God, which is received through faith in Christ. The pardoning of our sins allows us to worship; removing the obstacle of sin that bars our communion with God, it allows us to enter into his holy presence.
God has cleansed us and accepted us, so we respond with this traditional trinitarian song of praise.
God Calls Us
Prayer of Illumination
In this prayer, we seek God’s gracious presence to prepare us to hear his Word, to open our ears, to enlighten our minds and to apply his covenant Word to our hearts.
Reading of Scripture
We read a passage of Scripture that supports the themes and lessons of the sermon. God uses both the reading and the hearing of Scripture as a means of grace. When God’s Word is read, we not only affirm that God has spoken through the prophets and the apostles, but that he is speaking to us today through his written Word.
Psalm or Hymn of Preparation
This song assists us in preparing to hear God’s Word preached.
Preaching of the Word
Our preaching is expository, meaning that it unpacks the Word of God, rather than offering the opinions of man. It is Christ-centered, grace-driven, exegetical (draws its meaning from Scripture) and authoritative.
A sermon that is Christ-centered and grace-driven will contain the following four elements:
- As the preacher expounds a passage in the Bible, he will explain how that passage calls us to do or to be something in particular.
- But he also reminds us that as sinful creatures, we are incapable in our own strength of doing or being that to which we have been called.
- Thankfully, every passage of Scripture contains the good news of the grace of God in Christ. So, the preacher also reminds us that Jesus lived the perfect life that none of us is capable of living and that he died the death that we each deserve for our rebellion against God. As a result, Christ has fulfilled every requirement of Scripture; he is everything that we are called to be, and he has done everything that is required of us.
- Finally, the preacher calls us to renewed obedience to Scripture, reminding us that Christ himself enables us and equips us to do or to be whatever that passage has called us to, through the strength of Christ, not our own.
Prayer of Intercession
In this prayer, the pastor prays for the truth of the sermon to be applied to our hearts, and then he moves on to lift up the needs of the world, the nation, the local community, the church both universal and local, and other physical and spiritual needs.
Psalm or Hymn of Response
We sing in response to the sermon, praising God for his grace through Christ shown to us in his Word, and for his call to obedience in our lives.
God Communes with Us
Affirmation of Faith
A public statement before the church and the world of what we believe as Christians. We customarily use the Apostles’ Creed or the Nicene Creed. Both are ancient statements of the Christian faith, confessed by countless Christians over the centuries, often at the cost of their lives.
The Gloria Patri
A traditional trinitarian song of praise to the eternal, unchanging, triune God.
We take Communion weekly. This sacrament is a sign and seal of God’s covenant promises, signifying and sealing to God’s elect the redemptive work of Christ. It engages our senses and props up our faltering faith, and leads us to fix our eyes on the perfect life, sacrificial death and hell-conquering resurrection of Jesus Christ our Lord.
The Nunc Dimittis (Song of Simeon)
Another traditional song that acknowledges our rest in the finished work of Jesus Christ.
Prayer of Thanksgiving and Dedication
We give thanks for the shed blood of Jesus Christ through whom we have the forgiveness of sins, as well as for the many earthly blessings that God has given us. We also reaffirm the covenant and recommit ourselves to following Christ.
God Commissions and Blesses Us
Collection of Alms and Tithes
Returning a portion of our material blessings to the God who provides is a good and natural response to worship. The generous, cheerful and sacrificial giving of God’s people is one of the clearest evidences of their love for God and their commitment to the extension of his Kingdom.
Closing Psalm or Hymn
A closing song of praise and thanksgiving to God.
Like the Call to Worship, the Benediction comes straight from Scripture, thus giving our heavenly Father the first and last word in the worship service. The word “benediction” comes from the Latin verb “to bless.” Thus, it is the authoritative pronouncement of God’s diving blessing upon his people before they are dismissed. It should be received by God’s people as a life-changing, comforting truth.