What to Expect in Worship
Sunday worship is a rich mosaic of word and song, movement and gesture, symbol and ritual, silence and stillness. Some parts may be familiar and some not - but all are done with intention and purpose, which is to say that there is a deeper meaning behind everything we do. At WPC, we typically follow the ancient four-fold movement of Christian worship:
Our Sunday morning worship really begins in the atrium as people begin to gather for conversation…and an occasional cup of coffee. Once we are all gathered in the sanctuary, we are called to worship by the ringing of a bell and a few moments of silence. Then we praise God in song and prayer, confess those things in our lives that are in need of God’s grace, receive the assurance of God’s forgiveness, and respond with a song of praise. All of this prepares our hearts and minds to hear the Word for this day.
Our scripture readings most often follow a lectionary cycle (we use the Revised Common Lectionary during portions of the church year), a way of ordering readings over a period of time for worship. At WPC, we sing the psalms using a variety of musical expressions from 16th century Geneva to modern-day gospel. We also include the children of our community during this time by calling them forward to hear a message for the day based on the scriptures we have just heard. The sermon holds a central place in Reformed worship and we are blessed with great preachers at WPC!
Our response to the Word takes many forms throughout the year. On most Sundays, we sing a song…maybe a European hymn, a freedom song from South Africa, an unaccompanied meditation from India, or an African-American spiritual. On some Sundays, we may celebrate the sacrament of Baptism; on the first Sunday of each month, we celebrate the sacrament of Holy Communion. On special days, we may be invited to come forward and engage in a ritual action such as the renewal of baptism. However we do it, this moment of response is a time for us to personalize the Word that has been proclaimed to us that day. During this time, we also offer prayers for the world and our particular community.
This is probably one of the most important parts of our Sunday service…it is the moment when we are blessed and commissioned to take the Good News that we have just received to the communities that we belong to throughout the week.