Come and worship with friendly Presbyterians!
We gather for worship every Sunday at 11 a.m.
Worship is one of the most important things that we do together as Christians when we gather at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church. Worship is the heart of the church’s life.
In Public Worship: Something We Do, the Rev. Yme Woensdregt decribes worship in this way: “More people gather for worship than for any other ministry of the church. Although we come from different places and live very different lives, we gather in one place to celebrate the one life we have been given in Jesus Christ.
We gather for worship not simply because we are people, but because we are God’s people. We gather; we pray; we receive forgiveness; we speak; we listen; we give thanks; we baptize; we eat and drink; we respond in prayer, mission and service in the world. Worship is something we do.”
The Presbyterian Church in Canada does not prescribe a particular order for worship. However, The Book of Common Worship was approved by the 117th General Assembly of the PCC in 1991 for voluntary use as a resource book. The Book of Common Worship provides liturgies for Sunday worship and special occasions which aid the people of God in the worship of their Creator and Redeemer.
Rev. Woensdregt writes that “There are two acts of Christian worship – word and sacrament – that proclaim Christ, the living Word. Both are connected with baptism, which initiates us into the company of Christ’s people. Through both word and sacrament we practise our ‘higher calling … to offer the worship that belongs to God …’ Worship nurtures us, reminds us of our baptismal identity, and calls others to seek baptism as a step of faith.
Word and sacrament complete each other. Scripture and preaching confront us with the teaching and love of God made known in Jesus Christ. In the Lord’s Supper, Christ feeds and strengthens us with the bread of life and the cup of salvation.”
Many Presbyterian Churches (that have traditionally celebrated communion about four times each year) are moving towards more frequent celebration of the Sacrament in Sunday worship. At St. Andrew’s, we celebrate the Sacrament of Holy Communion six times per year on Sunday mornings, with some additional opportunities for Communion at other times also.
At St. Andrew’s, the Order of Worship when it includes Holy Communion, looks like this:
Our organist/pianist offers a musical prelude as we gather for worship.
Welcome and Announcements
The choir and minister enter the sanctuary and the minister greets the people. The minister welcomes the congregation and makes any announcements that are necessary. Announcements are also printed in the bulletin for people to take home.
GATHER IN GOD’S NAME
Call to Worship
Our first act of public worship is to heed God’s call and to join with others in praising God. The words used to call us to worship are often from Scripture and remind us that worship centres on God and not on ourselves.
Prayer of Approach
We approach God in prayer, acknowledging God’s holiness and offering our love and devotion. We ask God to be present with us by the Holy Spirit as we seek to worship God alone.
We sing a hymn or song of praise, usually from the 1997 edition of The Book of Praise, the hymnal of the Presbyterian Church in Canada.
Prayer of Confession
Trusting in God’s graciousness, we admit our imperfection. When faced with God’s glory, we are aware of our unfaithfulness, our frailty, and our common and collective failure to be the people God calls us to be. We confess our sins to God – sometimes the minister prays the prayer, sometimes we have a moment of silence to confess personal sin, and sometimes we say a prayer together that is printed in the bulletin.
Assurance of God’s Love and Grace
This is the proclamation of God’s faithfulness, usually spoken by the minister. We celebrate God’s glorious love and forgiveness in Jesus Christ – “Friends, believe the gospel: in Jesus Christ, we are forgiven!”
PROCLAIM GOD’S WORD
GOOD NEWS for our Children and the Lord’s Prayer
We begin to proclaim God’s Word through a message prepared for the children. The children are invited to come forward and sit in the front pews so that they can see and hear what is happening. The GOOD NEWS for the Children is usually a story or lesson based on one of the Scripture readings of the day. Though the children are the ones interacting directly with the minister at this time, people of all ages may hear the gospel through this proclamation.
We close this time by saying the Lord’s Prayer together. We call this our “family prayer” – as one family in Christ, we pray the family prayer of the people of God.
We sing praise to God in response to the GOOD NEWS that we have heard. This song is usually one that is particularly familiar or appropriate for the children.
Prayer for Illumination
This prayer asks the Holy Spirit to bring light to help us understand what God is saying to the church today.
Presbyterians include quite a bit of Scripture in our regular worship, often following the pattern of an Old Testament reading, a psalm, an epistle reading, and a Gospel reading. Even if the sermon only focuses on one of the readings, we immerse ourselves in Scripture, because we have found that the Bible can speak even if a particular passage is not the basis for the sermon.
Sometimes the minister reads from the Bible, but members of the congregation also take turns to proclaim the readings. The psalm is usually led by a choir member. He/she leads the singing of a short refrain from The Book of Psalms, and then the congregation reads the psalm responsively. In choosing the Scriptures for worship, we normally follow the Revised Common Lectionary, a three-year cycle of readings. The lectionary helps us to hear a wide range of the Scriptural witness to the activity of God, but ministers who use the lectionary are also free to depart from it when circumstances warrant it.
The minister delivers a sermon – an interpretation or application of one or more of the Scripture readings. Presbyterians believe that “the God who speaks in Scripture speaks today – to us. The God who acted in the events of Biblical time acts today… Preaching expands and illuminates Scripture so that, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the gathered worshippers may come to know Jesus Christ in the present day,” (Woensdregt, 16-17).
GIVE THANKS TO GOD
Gathering of the Offering
Offering plates are passed around the congregation so that people can make money offerings in thanks to God and for the glory of God. The offerings support the ministry at St. Andrew’s, the ministry of the Presbyterian Church in Canada (through Presbyterians Sharing), and International Ministry (through Presbyterian World Service and Development). Individuals may designate which ministries or missions their offerings are to go towards.
Choir Anthem, Solo, or Special Music
During the gathering of the offering (or sometimes at another time during the worship) the choir makes a special musical offering. Our choir director tries to choose music that proclaims the same message or theme as the Scripture readings of the day. Our choir practices on Thursday evenings to prepare meaningful anthems for the glory of God.
Doxology and Prayer of Thanksgiving/Dedication
We sing praise to God (doxology) as the offerings are presented at the front of the church. Then the minister offers a prayer of thanksgiving to God for the gifts that we are able to share, and asks God to bless and use the gifts for God’s glory and for building up God’s kingdom on earth.
Prayers of the People
We pray for the needs of the church, the world, and those in need, trusting in God’s grace and mercy.
THE WORD MADE VISIBLE
On Sundays when we celebrate Holy Communion, the following elements (from Invitation to the Table to the Prayer after Communion) are added to the Order of Service
Invitation to the Table
Since Christ is the host at the meal, Presbyterians believe that the table is open to all who have been baptized – the whole family of God. The minister declares Christ’s invitation to everyone to receive the Sacrament.
The Apostles’ Creed
We stand to confess our faith in Christ, usually using the words of the ancient “Apostles’ Creed.”
We sing a hymn or song about the Sacrament of Holy Communion as we prepare to celebrate the Sacrament.
Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
This prayer, based on an ancient Christian prayer, includes spoken and sung responses for the congregation, which are printed in the bulletin. The prayer opens with thanksgiving to God and we join with the whole creation in lifting our hearts in joyful praise. Thanksgiving continues for the work of Jesus Christ, and we proclaim the mystery of faith: “Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again.” The presence of the Holy Spirit is invoked, followed by a doxology.
Breaking of the Bread and Sharing of the Cup
The minister tells the story of Jesus’ last supper with his disciples. We remember how Jesus broke the bread and passed the pieces among his friends, saying “This is my body, given for you.” Then he shared a cup of wine, saying that “This cup is the new covenant, sealed in my blood. Every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, remember me.” The elders distribute the bread and juice to the congregation. Usually the congregation remains seated, and they are served in their pews.
Prayer after Communion
When all have finished eating and drinking, we join in prayer together, giving thanks to God for the gift we have received.
We sing a final hymn of praise to God, even as we prepare to be sent by God into the world to continue to follow Jesus and worship God throughout the week.
Benediction and Choral Amen
The minister “commissions” the people to go out into the world to love and serve the Lord. Then she offers a benediction (blessing), and the people respond by singing: “Amen, amen, amen.”
The organist/pianist offers a musical postlude as the congregation prepares to leave the worship space.
Note: We always gather in the lower hall for coffee and conversation following the worship service.