Presbyterian Worship at HUPC
Presbyterians trace their roots back to the Reformed branch of Protestant Christianity. Worship, in the Reformed tradition, is decidedly personal and uniformly corporate. Private times of worship are important but communal worship fills a different need – the need to share an experience of faith that allows us to examine our lives in the perspective of heritage and hope. As Presbyterians, we believe in the priesthood of all believers. Thus we are the doers of worship, and not simply the receivers of it. In each service participation of lay assistants is visible and the active responses of all sitting in the congregation are encouraged.
Our worship is the bringing of the past into the present as well as bringing the future into the present. It is communal dialogue and community with God by word, sacrament, rite, song, prayer and silence.
Worship builds community in our life by offering us a sense of belonging as we express our praise of God and develop our sense of identity as a child of God.
We hope that your experience of worshiping with this church family will bring to you power in your life as together we discover both who we are and whose we are. Our worship service emphasizes the love of God and encourages us to recognize that presence of love in our lives and enables us to live out that love in relationship to others.
A Guide To Our Worship Service
- Prelude – A musical prelude begins the service by providing a time of transition to the corporate worship of God. During this time you are invited to meditate or quietly greet those nearby.
- Greeting and Announcements – This is a time when all are greeted and special announcements of church activities are highlighted.
- Introit – Ordinarily the choir offers this time of music to help us put aside the business of the world and the church so we may focus on our worship of God.
- Call to Worship – The Call to Worship is a responsive reading which sets the mood for the service. It announces God's presence in our midst and directs us to reverence and praise.
- Hymn of Praise – The first hymn focuses attention on the One in whose name we gather, praising God's goodness, power and mercy. This hymn often reflects our corporate rather than private worship of God.
- Confession of Sin/Pardon – This is recognition of the reality of sin in both our personal and our common life. In the acknowledgement of our sin – our being separated from God and from others – in the beginning of our worship we clear the way for reconciliation and prepare ourselves to be open to hear God's word. The Pardon is the declaration of God's mercy offered to us that we may know the peace of God's forgiveness and be empowered to forgive others.
- Response – Gloria Patri – In response to God's forgiveness we sing this ancient verse of praise.
- The Peace – In the early church, the kiss of peace was a formal and solemn act, regarded as a seal of prayer. This is a time for us, as the people of God, to offer to one another a sign of recognition of God's gift to us and our love for each other. It is a handshake accompanied by the exchange, "The peace of God be with you," and the reply, "And also with you."
- Children's Time – Children bring special gifts to worship and are always welcomed in our church. The message is a special time for these children as it offers God's Word in a way they may understand and remember. Following the message, during the regular school year, children may leave to attend Church School. During the summer months, children ages 3-6 may leave to participate in special activities. Nursery care is always available for children up to age three.
- Prayer for Illumination – This is a prayer offered to prepare us for the reading of the Word of God. It is an appeal to open us to the message the Word offers us this day.
- Scripture Reading – The first reading usually comes from the Old Testament or the Epistles. Each scripture passage offers us the chance to connect with our history as God's people and to learn of God's will for us in the future. Most Sundays we follow the "lectionary" – a three-year cycle of scriptures. At the end of the reading it is often said: "The Word of The Lord," to which the congregation can respond, "Thanks be to God."
- Anthem – This is a musical offering given by the choir or by individuals in response to God's Word.
- Gospel Lesson/Sermon – The Gospel lesson is included in and instructs the sermon. This is the proclaimed Word and is offered in the belief that through the Holy Spirit, Jesus Christ is present to the gathered people offering to call to grace and the call to discipleship. The degree of inspiration the worshiper experiences is influenced by the Holy Spirit as well as the openness of the mind and heart of each of us.
- Hymn – This hymn usually follows the theme of the scripture and sermon's message.
- Offering – The gifts of the congregation are collected and brought forward. These represent our response to God's many gifts and our commitment to God's calling. This is followed by the Doxology (a song of praise) and a prayer of dedication of the gifts and the givers.
- Affirmation of Faith – In response to the Word, we affirm our faith with repetition of a creed or other faith statement. Often used is the Apostle's Creed – a statement of faith based upon the teaching of the apostles, a summary of ways we have experienced God in our lives.
- Sharing of Joy and Concerns/Prayers of the People/the Lord's Prayer – Communal prayer is the Body of Christ lifting up the needs of individuals of the church, of the community and of the world. Individuals are invited to share with the church family those urgent concerns or joys they wish to be lofted up in our prayer. The prayer that follows includes thanksgiving, intercession on behalf of those requested and a petition for guidance and support for all present. In this church we use the words "debt" and "debtors."
- Hymn – The final hymn moves us towards closure and focuses on God's call to us and what our response may be.
- Commission and Benediction – When we leave this place of worship, we carry not only the memory of this particular experience but the continuing relationship of being bound together in the spirit of Christ. As we go out into the world we take with us the assurance of God's love and God's continual presence by our side. Sustained by God, redeemed by Christ, nourished by the Spirit, we go forth from worship enabled to love as God would have us live in the world.
- Postlude – This final musical offering provides a transition from our worship to our moving out into the world in service. Having received the charge and the blessing we proceed to go out with enthusiasm.
The Sacraments of Baptism and the Lord's Supper – The Reformed tradition understands the Sacraments to be instituted by God and to be signs of the real presence and power of Christ in the Church.
- The Sacrament of Baptism is, at times, a part of our worship. This, we believe, is a time of initiation into the Body of Christ. We celebrate as a family the love of God that reaches out to all people no matter what age they are. And we give thanks for the symbol of water that reminds us the new life all Christians have in Christ.
- The Sacrament of the Lord's Supper is normally offered on the first Sunday of every month. This is a time when we show our oneness with Christ and with each other. All who believe in Jesus Christ are invited to join in the feast our Lord has prepared for us. On the Sundays when the Lord's Supper is offered, the order of worship is shifted so that the Sacrament immediately follows the proclamation of the Word and immediately precedes our going out into the world. Thus, the connection of the Word made visible and the nourishment for service is intimately connected.