To all who are spiritually weary and seek rest; to all who mourn and long for comfort; to all who struggle and desire victory; to all who sin and need a Savior; to all who are strangers and want fellowship; to all who hunger and thirst after righteousness; and to whoever will come — this church opens wide her doors and offers her welcome in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.
None of us are without flaws. We all come with different sorrows, different shortfalls and failures, different hardships, and different struggles with sin. We are not expected to carry our burdens or overcome our struggles independently. No soldier is sent into battle alone, that would be foolishness. We need each other.
We were created in the image of a relational God, and therefore made for community. As much as we are flawed, each of us comes with different gifts and different strengths for the building up of Christ’s church. When we meet together for worship, our souls are nourished and refreshed. As we hear God’s Word preached we grow in our repentance and faith. When we pray for one another, our hearts are humbled. When we join our voices together in singing, our souls are encouraged. As we serve each other’s needs and share each other’s burdens, our love for one another expands.
When one member is missing from the gathering of believers, they forgo the abundant blessings offered in the fellowship of the body and the preaching of God’s Word. And the body of believers likewise suffers their absence. We are all needy and we are all needed. In fact, this regular assembling together is exactly what God has commanded for his people:
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. Hebrews 10:24-25
There is always something else vying for our time and attention. Unless we are intentional about regularly meeting together, we are likely to slip into a pattern of desertion. Certainly there are necessary occasions when we do need to miss, but we are cautioned against making it a habit. As much as it is possible, we exhort you to come weekly, to feast richly on the Gospel and to join in the fellowship of believers. All for the Glory of God our Savior.
God teaches us how to worship him in the Bible. The ordinary elements of worship given to us in the Bible are:
- The reading of Scripture
- The preaching of the Word
- The public confession of our faith;
- The collection of tithes and offerings
- The sacraments instituted by Jesus which are The Lord’s Supper and Baptism.
After Jesus ascended into heaven, the early church devoted themselves to these things. The elements prescribed in the Bible are designed to bring glory to God, nourish our faith, and edify one another.
We see the use of written responses and prayers in assembled worship throughout the history of the Christian Church. Some folks may dispute the sincerity of such written responses and prayers, but without them, congregational participation is considerably curtailed. Written responses and prayers allow the congregation to interact in the service beyond only singing. With the coming of Christ, we are called a “royal priesthood” and therefore appointed to actively engage in the work of worship. Assembled worship is a small foreshadowing of what we will enjoy in heaven. Worship is not something we watch from the pew, but an active participation. Sincerity is determined in the heart of each person as they recite the written responses and prayers together. We urge all to examine their own heart as we come to worship the Holy God.
With scarce exception, we typically recite the Lord’s Prayer and the Apostles’ Creed every week. Some folks may regard this weekly repetition as mindless and stale. But the Lord’s Prayer and the Apostles’ Creed have been used throughout church history even from the first century. As we review the Lord’s Prayer and the Apostles’ Creed, we unite not just with our current, local congregation, but with the universal body of believers across the centuries and across the globe. And as repetition fosters memorization, our younger children and blind worshipers are likewise able to participate in the worship service.
Both the Lord’s Prayer and the Apostles’ Creed give us a doctrinal framework–the first is an outline for prayer given to us by Jesus, to teach us how to pray. When we pray the Lord’s prayer together we are saying the prayer that Jesus gave us. We rehearse his structure for prayer and allow it to shape our own prayers. The second is a summary of the essential beliefs of the Christian faith, written by early church fathers to protect against threatening falsehoods. As we affirm the Apostles’ Creed every week we stand with the historic church and anchor in our hearts and minds central beliefs of the Christian faith.