Like so many of you, I find myself unexpectedly at home this Sunday instead of joining in corporate worship. At Grace Fellowship Church we deem this a reasonable response to the government’s request that we avoid meeting in large groups. And while I’m at home with my family, I’m thinking wistfully of the wonderful service we enjoyed last week. Let me tell you about it…
The service’s cast of characters included Paul as the preacher and service leader, Josh as the lead worshipper, and Steve as the elder who prayed and read Scripture. Our band consisted of guitar, piano, and cajon accompanying a male and two female vocalists. The various elements of the service are in bold with the name of the person who led the element in parentheses. Items in quotes represent roughly what the person said to the congregation. Items not in quotes are explanatory. The entire service lasted approximately 90 minutes.
Call to Worship (Paul)
Our call to worship was Jude 24-25. “‘Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.’ Let’s give glory to the one true God—the God who keeps us and saves us for all time!”
Scripture Reading (Congregation)
We read Psalm 148 corporately and antiphonally, with different sections of the congregation responding to one another.
Confession of Sin (Paul)
Paul bridged from Psalm 148 to a confession of sin, asking, “If God is this great, why do we still sin?” He then led us in a prayer based on Daniel’s prayer in Daniel 9. “O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments. We have sinned and done wrong, we have acted wickedly and rebelled, turning aside from your commandments and rules. We have not listened to your Word. To you, O Lord, belongs righteousness, but to us open shame…because we have sinned against you. To you, O Lord our God, belong mercy and forgiveness, for we have rebelled against You and have not obeyed Your voice by walking in Your commandments. O Lord, according to all your righteous acts, let your anger and your wrath turn away from us. For your own sake, O Lord, make your face to shine upon us. O our God, incline your ear and hear. Open your eyes and see our brokenness and shame. For we do not present our pleas before you because of our righteousness, but because of your great mercy. O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive. O Lord, pay attention and act. Delay not, for your own sake, O God, because we, your people, are called by your name. Amen.”
Assurance of Pardon (Paul)
“Receive the pardon of your kind and loving Saviour: ‘Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of his inheritance? He does not retain his anger forever, because he delights in steadfast love. He will again have compassion on us; he will tread our iniquities underfoot. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea. You will show faithfulness to Jacob and steadfast love to Abraham, as you have sworn to our fathers from the days of old'” (Micah 7:18–20).
Pastoral Prayer (Steve)
Our associate pastor Steve led us in a pastoral prayer.
The Scripture reading was from Job 41. Steve said something like, “Please take your Bible and turn to Job 41, which is on page 416 if you are using one of our church Bibles. He prefaced his reading with “This is what Holy Scripture says…” and ended with “This is the Word of the Lord” to which the congregation replied “Thanks be to God.”
Paul preached a sermon from several chapters of Job titled “Him Exalting, Self Abasing.” Because the outline was rather lengthy, I won’t reproduce it here.
Complementary Text Reading (Steve)
Following the sermon, Steve read a short complementary text: 1 Corinthians 15:54-57.
Steve provided our “commission,” which is where we bridge from the service we’ve just completed to living out the Christian life in the week ahead. While this is where we give our announcements, we try to make sure we are commissioning people more than just listing upcoming events. Of course at that time we did not know how many of our upcoming events would be canceled…
“Receive this blessing of the Lord from His Word: ‘Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.’ Amen.”