30 Orange Grove Road, down Shangri-La Hotel, Singapore 258352
Mailing Address: 1 Goldhill Plaza, #03-35, Singapore 308899
Email: email@example.com; Website: http://www.truelifebpc.org.sg
(Ring Pastor Jeffrey Khoo 62561189 Anytime)
|“The LORD is in his holy temple: let all the earth keep SILENCE before him.”|
Psalm 29:2 enjoins us to “Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name; worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness.” Worship draws man to behold the holiness of God and desire after His divine beauty. As St Augustine said, “Worship is the mother of all virtues”. As such, the worship of God is not just a religious ritual but a holy exercise that brings about virtuous benefits. “O worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness: fear before him, all the earth.” (Ps 96:9).
Since the worship service is a sacred and solemn exercise, the pastor or elder who leads in worship must reflect the dignity and solemnity of the occasion by being dressed appropriately. He should be in coat and tie. Worshippers should come in their Sunday best, and not as if they were going to the beach. They should be punctual even early for service, and seated at least five minutes before time. Silence should be maintained, no chit-chatting. Prepare both heart and mind to worship the Lord in spirit and in truth.
The pianist/organist to play some hymns ten minutes before time to help people prepare for worship. All hand-phones or electronic devices should be switched off or set on silent mode. There should be no eating or drinking during the service; no clapping or applauding either. The service is not a concert or a performance.
The worship chairman and all worshippers would do well to know and understand the rationale behind each part of the service as found in our Order of Worship.
Call to Worship
The call to worship begins with an organ/piano prelude—“The Lord Is in His Holy Temple”. This seeks to prepare minds and hearts to the worship of God.
The Lord is in His holy temple,
The Lord is in His holy temple:
Let all the earth keep silence,
Let all the earth keep silence before Him—
Keep silence, keep silence before Him. Amen.
The worship spirit or attitude is a sombre and solemn one. The ambience should not be a noisy or boisterous but a quiet and contemplative one. “But the LORD is in his holy temple: let all the earth keep silence before him.” (Hab 2:20). “Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.” (Ps 46:10). The worship service should be full of God’s Word, not ours, “Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter any thing before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few.” (Eccl 5:2).
The worship leader should not start the service by greeting the people—“Good morning to all of you. Thank you for coming. Glad you are with us today”. The service must begin by addressing God, not man. God must get all the attention and concentration from the outset. The worship service is meant to serve God and God alone, not ourselves, nor anyone or anything else. “Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.” (Matt 4:10).
After the prelude, the chairman should make the call to worship immediately. No announcements or greetings should be made at this time. In a worship service, there is a need to keep our own words to a minimum. Use instead God’s words as found in the Scriptures. Thus the call to worship is best made by reading an appropriate passage of Scripture like Psalm 100, “Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands. Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing. Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.”
Refrain from reading a long chapter or passage; just a short text or couple of verses would do. The choice of a text could be linked to the opening hymn.
The first or opening hymn should be a hymn of praise to God for who He is and what He is. Pick a hymn that speaks of His Being and attributes. Many such hymns are found in the first part of the Revival Hymns and Choruses (RHC) on the Worship of God (#1–79), eg RHC1 “O Worship the King”, RHC5 “Command Thy Blessing from Above, RHC8 “Holy, Holy, Holy”.
In hymn leading, the worship leader should lead by voice, not by hand. When the hymns are sung, he should refrain from conducting. The waving of arms and hands can be distracting. The congregation should not be looking at the worship leader but at the hymnbook or hymn sheet, paying attention to the words as they sing. Preference should be given to using a hymnbook rather than screening the lyrics on the wall. The music score that is found in a hymnbook aids in music education and SATB singing which enhances the worship atmosphere.
An invocation is “an opening prayer in a public religious service.” (Chambers). It is a prayer calling upon God to be present in the service to bless the people who have gathered to worship Him. In such a prayer, focus should be on God, His power and mercy. It should invoke all three persons of the Holy Trinity to exercise their respective roles in the salvation of sinners and sanctification of saints. It is therefore important for the worship leader to be well grounded in doctrine. Our prayers to God must be doctrinally correct and should reflect doctrinal maturity. We must approach God is a serious and not casual manner. For instance, start the prayer with a statement like “Almighty God, our gracious and loving Father in heaven…”, and not like this, “Dear Daddy God, hello and good morning to you…”. We do not get spiritual babes to chair a worship service, just like we do not appoint children to chair board meetings. As 1 Timothy 3:6 says, “Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil.”
It is a good practice to end the invocation with the Lord’s Prayer, with the congregation praying that prayer out loud. When this is done, the congregation themselves are calling upon God to bless them in their worship of Him. They are also reminded to get right with God and their fellow brethren especially that part of the prayer which says, “And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us.” How can we worship God properly and rightly when we are bearing a grudge against someone in our heart? Psalm 66:18 warns, “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me” (Ps 66:18).
After the invocation, the congregation sings the Gloria Patri: “Glory Be to the Father”, and not only the Father but also the Son and the Spirit:
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost.
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be.
World without end. Amen, Amen.
The Gloria Patri was sung in the church as early as the 4th century. It was a hymn affirming the doctrine of the Trinity over against the heresies of Arius and Sabellius, and others who denied the Trinity. No Trinity, no Saviour; no Saviour, no salvation. “Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God? This is he that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth. For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.” (1 John 5:5–7).
The Gloria Patri also affirms the eternity, sovereignty and providence of the Godhead. God is still on the throne and He is in control. The Triune God deserves all the glory, honour and praise. “I am the LORD: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images.” (Isa 42:8). Our worship of God must always be geared towards His glory. “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Cor 10:31).
The reading of the Scriptures both privately and publicly is something commanded in the Scriptures. The Apostle Paul told Timothy, “Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.” (1 Tim 4:13). Responsive reading is the alternate reading of a Scripture text. The worship leader will read the first verse and the congregation would respond by reading the next, and so on.
Responsive reading is biblical. For instance, responsive reading of blessings on Mount Gerizim and curses on Mount Ebal was practiced by the Israelites in Deuteronomy 27:11–13 and Joshua 8:31–35. Psalm 136 is structured in such a way that it lends itself to responsive reading. The minister reads a statement of truth about God each time, and the people respond with “for his mercy endureth for ever”.
Tied to responsive reading is congregational singing. It is not just the priest or the choir that sings; all worshippers should sing unto the Lord. This was the good tradition set in the days of the Protestant Reformation. Luther and Calvin got the people to sing in unison in church. By reading the Scriptures responsively and singing the Scriptures together, the members not only worship God in unison but also solidify their unity as a body of Christ. By so doing, members serve one another and edify one another as encouraged in Colossians 3:16, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” Biblical worship must always be Word-based and Word-centred, or else the worship is in vain.
It is best to choose a psalm for responsive reading. The psalms are so varied in terms of their content—they are rich in doctrine, some of them are prophetic of the coming Messiah, many of them address our varied human experiences—our joys and pains, our repentance and deliverance, our gratitude and thanksgiving etc. The hymn chosen after a responsive reading of the psalms could come from the Psalter which reinforces the thoughts and feelings of the psalm that was read. The psalms are a balm to our soul. We should read and sing them often. JK
…to be continued
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