Guide to Worship

The Service for the Lord’s Day

Worship services at First Presbyterian are guided by the order of worship set forth in the Presbyterian Book of Common Worship’s “Service for the Lord’s Day”.

Some general observations:

  • The order for worship is based on scripture and church tradition, and is divided into four parts: Gathering, The Word, Eucharist/Thanksgiving, Sending.
  • Worship services are Trinitarian in nature – reflecting the creativity of God, the redemption of Christ, and the life-giving presence of the Spirit.
  • Worship services are a dialogue between God and the gathered People of God.
  • God speaks by the Holy Spirit through the reading and proclamation of the Word and the administration of thesacraments of Baptism and Communion.
  • The people speak through prayers – spoken and sung.
  • Services follow an annual cycle that is divided into two halves; Extraordinary Time (Advent – Pentecost) andOrdinary Time (Pentecost – Christ the King).
  • Extraordinary Time follows the life of Jesus from the prophecy of his birth until his Ascension and the giving ofthe Holy Spirit
  • Ordinary Time focuses on the life of the church as the Spirit leads us into the work of God’s realm in the world.
  1. GATHERING: The people assemble in the name of the Lord. Called to worship by the presiding minister, they offer praise in words of Scripture, prayer and song. Within the context of God’s grace, the people acknowledge before God their sinfulness, and the brokenness of the world and the church.
  2. THE WORD: The congregation hears the scriptures read and their messages proclaimed. Between the readings, there may be psalms, hymns, canticles or other musical responses. In response to the reading and proclamation of God’s Word, they may make acts of commitment (i.e. Baptism) and professions of faith. They may offer prayers for local and worldwide needs, and bring their gifts.
  3. *THE EUCHARIST/THANKSGIVING: The presiding minister and/or representatives of the people prepare the Lord’s table for the Lord’s Supper. The presiding minister offers prayer in a Trinitarian format, praising God for creation and providence; remembering with thanksgiving Christ’s work of redemption; and invoking the Holy Spirit to bless the church and the Eucharistic action, that the body of Christ may truly be manifest. The presiding minister breaks bread, and persons assisting then deliver bread and cup to the assembly.
  4. SENDING: A liturgical leader charges all assembled to go out into the world, and the presiding minister offers God’s blessing.1

*“Martin Luther, John Calvin, and Charles Wesley all held in common a commitment to weekly Communion alongside the reading and preaching of the Word.”2  In light of this knowledge, the known practice of the early church, and the accepted liturgy of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), First Presbyterian offers a service of Word and Sacrament each Sunday at 8:45 a.m. Presently, services of Word and Sacrament at the 11 a.m. hour are offered monthly. At the recommendation of a study group that convened in 2013, the Discipleship Commission will be examining Eucharistic practices at First Presbyterian Church with regards to intentional practice of Eucharist (versus arbitrary, i.e. monthly communion).

1. Adapted from the companion to the Book of Common Worship. p. 14. Peter C. Bower, ed.

2. The Sacraments in Biblical Perspective. p. 1. Ronald Byars