Faithful worship is…
Faithful Reformed worship begins and ends with God. God both inspires good worship and is the object of our worship. A worshiping congregation gathers in awe in response to God’s glory and greatness. And so, in the mysterious architecture of worship, it is our relationship to God that undergirds our relationship with our fellow worshipers.
Good Reformed worship always emphasizes the divine-human conversation that nurtures and nourishes our faith and service. A Sunday morning service is a place and time when God comes to us again and again in word and sacrament, in sermon and silence, in music and mystery. As worshipers we are invited into a dialogue where we are called to respond with our hearts and lives. Good worship finds its center in Christ, who is Emmanuel, “God with us.” In Christ our conversation with God and each other becomes a holy dialogue of hope.
Good Reformed worship is personal, but not private. At first glance this distinction may seem puzzling. But it’s important because the worship of the church is always corporate in nature–it speaks to each of us personally, but not privately. Private worship can happen anytime we are alone. But when we are together, our worship needs to feed our personal rather than private needs. The question we ask ourselves at the door when we leave should not so much be “What did I get out of worship today?” but rather “What did we offer God and each other in our worship?” When we can answer the second question with enthusiasm and creativity, then our worship has been corporately, and thus personally, fulfilling.
Formed by the presence of Christ in both word and sacrament
Christ comes to us in our lives and in our worship in a multitude of ways–through the voice of a neighbor, the beauty of the earth, the melody of a piece of music, a gentle act of compassion of a friend, and the guiding words of a mentor. Christian worship looks to Christ to return again and again in his Spirit through both the word read and preached and the sacraments faithfully shared. We hear the voice of Christ in an inspiring sermon and sense the presence of Christ in bread broken and cup shared. Good worship embraces all of our senses–sound and sight, touch and taste. It reminds us that God claims all of our life, both body and soul, for God’s work and witness.
Home-grown and nourished in the rich soil of the whole church
Faithful Reformed worship reflects the best a neighborhood or community has to offer to God in worship. Music and prayers speak out of the concrete realities of people’s lives. At the same time, worship reminds people that they are not alone before the throne of God but are joined by others around the world and throughout the ages. The incarnation, God in Christ, reminds us that the divine takes on flesh and blood in a particular time, place, and person, while sharing truths that are eternal. Good worship mirrors the incarnation–it is both local and universal.