What Is Reformed Worship?
Liturgical – “Liturgy” simply means the order of worship. Every church has some form or order of service. Reformed liturgy has its roots in the historic Christian church, particularly the church of the 16th century Protestant Reformation. Reformed liturgy is a sacred dialogue where God draws near to his people and speaks to them through his Word and sacraments, and God’s people respond in humble confession, praise, and thanksgiving for God’s love in Jesus Christ. Ultimately, Reformed worship is based upon biblical practices such as prayer, singing, Scripture reading, preaching, and partaking of the sacraments. In these elements of worship, God’s Spirit re-orients our hearts from love of self to love of Christ and a desire for his kingdom above all.
Below is a brief explanation of the different parts of our liturgy.
Our Order of Worship
The Call to Worship
God invites us through the minister to praise his holy name by summoning us into his presence. Psalm 95 is a famous call to worship where the Psalmist says to his fellow worshipers, “Come, let us bow down in worship, and let us kneel before the Lord our maker.”
Invocation (silent prayer)
We respond to God’s call to worship in prayer as we ask him to bless our worship service by his Word and Spirit (Psalm 67:1). We pray believing that God will renew us by his grace, and receive our worship through Jesus Christ.
The Lord’s Greeting
In response to the congregation’s prayer of invocation, God declares grace and peace through the minister to those who have gathered in Christ’s name. (Galatians 1:3)
Reading of the Law and Confession
God reveals his will for our lives through his holy law as revealed in the Bible, showing which sort of person may stand before his holy throne (Psalm 24:3). Jesus explained the impossibility of keeping the law when he said in Matthew 5:48, “You must be perfect, as your Heavenly Father is perfect.” Knowing that we are sinful and imperfect, we confess that we have fallen short of the glory of God, and confess Christ’s perfect obedience to and fulfillment of the law, and trust that his righteous life and perfect payment for our sins. (1 John 1:8-9). We confess our own sins, believing that God will forgive us for Christ’s sake, and is helping us to delight and walk in his holy ways through the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit. (Psalm 40:8).
Declaration of Pardon and Absolution
After confessing our sins and our trust in Jesus Christ, God lifts up our heads and grants us his pardon through the minister, declaring that he will not hold our sins against us, and has truly forgiven all our sins. We are reminded and assured once again that all who call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved (Romans 10:13).
Assured that our sins are forgiven, we approach the throne of God with confidence, knowing that he not only tolerates our prayers, but welcomes them as a father welcomes the petitions of his children. In the pastoral prayer, the minister or elder prays for the church, not only for his own congregation, but for the church spread throughout world. He prays on behalf of the world and local city, asking that God would bless those in government and strengthen our local communities. We trust that our prayers are heard because of the one mediator between God and man, Jesus Christ, who taught us the scope and elements of prayer in The Lord’s Prayer.
The Word of the Lord Proclaimed
We believe that, “Faith comes by hearing, and that by the Word of Christ” (Rom. 10:17). God’s Word is read and explained so that God’s people might learn to walk by faith in God’s promises. We believe the Word of God is living and active, able to transform us into the image of Jesus Christ (Heb. 4:12). As God plants his Word in our hearts, it bears the peaceful fruit of righteousness for all “who have ears to hear what God has to say to us.”
Offerings of Gratitude
Our offerings are not payment for our sin, but tokens of gratitude to God for all he has done for us, and in recognition that everything we have and all we are is ultimately his. In our offerings, we demonstrate our commitment to the principle of the importance of the proclamation of the gospel and the building up of the saints, and give for the sake of the ministry of that gospel and those in need. The offering is intended to reflect the gratitude of those who recognize what God has done for them.
Confession of Faith
We confess together the Apostles’ or Nicene Creed, or a section of the Heidelberg Catechism. We do this not only to be instructed in the Christian faith, but also as a prayer to God in which we declare that we stand united in the truth he has revealed: “One Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all” (Ephesians 4:5-6). The creeds and confessions, while not inspired Scripture, are beautiful and careful summations of that revealed truth in the Bible.
God gets the last Word! As the service ends, God blesses his people through the minister, promising to keep us in the faith and be gracious to us as we live our day-to-day lives in the world. It is a word of peace, granting us the confidence that God is favorably disposed to us; that he will never leave or forsake us, but is working everything out for our salvation, so that we might be presented holy, blameless, and above reproach. (Num. 6:24-26; Col. 1:22).
Our Creeds and Confessions
- We are a Christian Church that believes the Bible. We hold fast to “the faith that was once and for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3). We confess and believe all that is taught in the Old and New Testaments, which are the inspired and infallible word of God. We summarize Scriptural teaching regarding the Holy Trinity and Christ in the great ecumenical creeds of the ancient church: Apostles’ Creed, Nicene Creed, Athanasian Creed, Definition of Chalcedon The Three Forms of Unity summarize what we believe. They are firmly grounded on the teaching of Holy Scripture. These confessions are common to many Reformed churches that originated in Europe. The Three Forms of Unity are comprised of the Belgic Confession, Heidelberg Catechism, and Canons of Dort.
The Ancient Creeds
The Three Forms of Unity
We also believe the Westminster Confession of Faith, and the Westminster Shorter and Larger Catechisms, are faithful summaries of biblical doctrine.