We all live for something. We believe we were made to live for, to worship God. And here is the thing about Christian worship and Christianity in general—It is not so much about what we do, but about what God does. When we meet on Sundays, God meets, serves, reaffirms his love to us. And that is why we come!
We believe that at the center of worship is a relationship. As such, our worship services are interactive and dynamic. They put us in a dialog with God shaped around the pattern of the gospel. That pattern has five stages: Approach, Renewal, (re)Commitment, Communion, and Commissioning.
God calls us to meet him:
God takes the initiative and calls us to worship him. Thus worship begins with God.
We praise God through song and ask him for help:
We respond to God’s call by worshipping him as a community. Because we are sinners, we acknowledge that we can only approach God because of Jesus. Realizing that none of us are inclined to worship, we ask for God to be with us by his Spirit and give us the power to respond to him.
Our response is often through music. Music holds the capacity to bring God’s truth to us, while allowing us the opportunity to express ourselves to God at the same time—a distinctively powerful form of communication.
We hear God speak and reflect on his character:
At some point, we read from a portion of the Bible. The Bible consists of various books containing various genres, all telling the single story about God’s redeeming love for the world. These books constitute God’s word – his powerful, authoritative self-expression and revelation. If you don’t have a Bible of your own, you can get one from the Welcome Table. Where to find the Bible passages are printed in your worship guides.
We finish each reading by reminding ourselves that the Bible is no ordinary book and demands our careful attention (“This is the Word of the Lord”). We respond with gratitude (“Thanks be to God!”/ “Praise to you Lord Christ!), acknowledging that our only hope for understanding God, ourselves, and the world is for God to reveal himself.
We confess our faults:
Because of grace, we can be radically honest with God about our moral faults. As we recognize the ways we’ve failed to love God and others perfectly, we confess our sins both individually (in silent prayer) and corporately (reading the printed prayer in unison), recognizing how our sins affect both our personal relationship with God and also our relationships with one another.
God offers us good news and assures us that we are forgiven:
Our authenticity before God about our failings is followed by an unfathomable promise: in Christ our sins are forgiven and by the Holy Spirit we are being renewed. The announcement of this truth is one of the most beautiful and powerful moments in our worship service. This word of pardon isn’t simply for us to hear; it is for us to believe, receive, and rest our lives upon.
We sing with joy and thanksgiving:
Having been assured that our sins are forgiven, we revel in God’s great mercy.
We re-commit our allegiance to God:
We will often respond to God’s grace by confessing our faith in him. This is more than a rehearsal of the truths to which we subscribe; this is a pledge of allegiance to our Lord and Savior; a renewal of our covenant vows. Often these confessions also remind us that we are connected to many generations of Christians from all over the world who have embraced the same message.
We commit our resources to his Mission:
We give our material possessions as an act of faith and a symbol of lives that are dedicated to God. This offering is a response of gratitude for the invaluable gift we’ve been given in Christ.
We commit our concerns:
When we pray expectantly for things, we exercise our belief that God cares about our needs and is powerful enough to help. Thus we make intercessory prayer—humbly asking God for things—a part of worship. In general, one person leads in prayer, but together we ask God to move in our community, our city, and our world.
God brings us Good News:
One of the most important points in our service is when someone who is especially trained and gifted opens God’s word and explains the way it reveals the grace of Jesus Christ and what implication it carries for us and our world. We believe that when we receive the message, the gospel, we encounter God and are changed.
We Give Thanks: and when he had given thanks…
Before Jesus distributed the bread and the wine to his disciples, he gave thanks (Luke 22:17,19; Mark 14:23). The church throughout history has done the same. The Great Thanksgiving is a prayer that is at the heart of what the Lord’s Supper is all about. At the table, we return thanks to God for the meal we share and rejoice in all that it means.
The prayer of Great Thanksgiving usually follows a pattern. It begins with an exhortation based on an ancient dialogue between the leader and the congregation. This dialogue contains the sursum corda (hearts on high). These words reminds us that in communion we really do ascend into heaven, however mysteriously, and receive the life of our risen Lord.
The prayer itself praises God and recounts his goodness in creation and redemption. This initial praise with thanksgiving often takes into account the liturgical season or an occasion in the life of the church. It evokes God’s steadfast love and providential goodness, which was ultimately revealed in the gift of Christ.
God invites us to a meal:
The signature feast of Christians has many names: the Love Feast, the Freedom Meal, the Breaking of Bread, the Lord’s Supper, Communion (from “sharing”), the Eucharist (from “thank you”), and the Mass (from “Go, you are sent out”). This celebratory meal has always been a common, shared, joyous family meal for those who follow Jesus, looking back to his once-for-all sacrificial death and looking forward to his return. When we celebrate the feast we commune with the risen Lord Jesus who stands as our host to offer forgiveness, healing, and life. Indeed, Jesus promises to be present with us in this spiritual meal, “feeding” our souls with himself. Here we also commune with one another, participating together in the reconciling grace of God.
We invite all who follow Jesus to partake of the Lord’s Supper – Baptized Christians who place their faith in Jesus, are at peace with God and others, and seek strength to live more faithfully for Christ. If you are not yet a Christian, or if you are a Christian who is not prepared to share in this meal, we encourage your prayerful observation in the hopes that you may consider your relationship with Jesus and with his church.
God sends us out in His power
Our worship service concludes with a “benediction,” God’s promise that he will go with us as we take the grace we’ve just experienced and extend it to our city and world. This is a blessing, not a prayer, so we encourage you to receive it with your heads up and your eyes open, looking at the pastor. Just as we began with God’s gracious invitation, so we end with his gracious promise to be with us and empower us for his mission.
We invite children of all ages to participate with us throughout the worship service, believing this to be the best way to nurture their sense of belonging and lifelong commitment to Jesus.
CHILDREN CLASSES are available through 5th grade during the sermon. A team of experienced and loving teachers offers age-appropriate, gospel-centered teaching as the children enjoy a snack.
NURSERY is available as an aid to parents of children two and under at any time during the service. Our loving volunteers will care for your child in a safe and fun environment.
We joyfully celebrate communion every Sunday and invite all those who have been identified with Jesus in baptism and are committed to following him in a gospel proclaiming community to participate.
Whatever your age, religious beliefs, political leanings, preferred attire, economic bracket, profession, ethnicity, culture, marital status, or music taste, we want to be a place where you can process the claims of Christianity and grow in your relationship with God.
Who is Jesus? Have you ever considered that question?
H.G. Wells, who was incidentally not a Christian, called Jesus “the dominant figure in history.” He writes:
The historian…simply cannot portray the progress of humanity honestly, without giving a foremost place to a penniless teacher of Nazareth of Galilee. Though He left no impress on the historical record of his time, more than nineteen hundred years later, a historian like myself who doesn’t even call himself a Christian, finds the picture centering irresistibly around the life and character of this man.
Wells puts Jesus at the top of the list of the world’s greatest characters. And here is why. He says: “The historian’s test of greatness is not, “What did he accumulate?” It is not, “What did he build up to tumble down on his head?” No, Wells says, the test of greatness is found in the answer to this question: “Was the world different because he lived? Did he start men to think along fresh lines with a vigor and vitality that persisted after him?” Wells concludes, “By this test Jesus stands first.” In other words, Wells is saying, you cannot make sense of history without considering Jesus.
How could a man who was born in such lowly circumstances, with such lowly upbringing, who never held a position of power, who died in poverty, and who himself never brushed shoulders with the cultural greats of his day, how has he had so much influence? Who is this man and what are we to make of him?
Huston Smith wrote what is perhaps the most popular book on comparative religion today, now entitled The World Religions. In that book Smith claims that there have been only two people in history whose lives were so incredible that people asked not “Who are you?” but “What are you?” Those two individuals are Buddha and Jesus.
The difference between these two individuals and their messages could not be starker. Whereas Buddha pointed people beyond himself, Jesus pointed people to himself. Whereas Buddha claimed to have the truth that illumines the path, Jesus claimed to be the truth and the goal of the path. He claimed to be God in the flesh.
It is worth noting that most other figures that claimed the things that Jesus claimed were either considered delusional or megalomaniacs, whose influence died off within a generation. Why was Jesus different? The most plausible answer to that question rests in the Christian claim that Jesus actually rose from the dead. If the resurrection did not happen, then Jesus is just another deluded, even if sincere, religious teacher. If he did rise from the dead, then it vindicates all that he claimed about himself.
But why would God become a man, die and rise again?
The story of Jesus tells us that humans are so lost and so broken that we cannot find God or fix ourselves. If we are going to be found, God has to find us. If we are going to be saved, God has to come save us. To do that he became a man, who lived an ordinary human life, distinguished only by the startling fact that he never did anything wrong. He lived the life we were meant to live.
In addition, Jesus went further and willingly took the punishment that was due to us for our imperfect, rebellious lives. Dying on the cross, he forgave those who put him to death. When he rose from the dead, Jesus demonstrated that death had no hold on him, nor on any who entrust their lives to him.
And the Christian claim is that this is good news. It is news—an announcement about something that has been accomplished. It is not advice—information about how you can accomplish something. Religion gives advice. It gives you instructions for improvement. It tells you how you can heal yourself, if you will only put your mind to it. The message about Jesus is not advice. It is news. It news about what God has done to save those who cannot save themselves.
Being made right, therefore, doesn’t depend on our own efforts, strength, intellect, potential, or anything in us. It is God’s work, his gift, given without regard to our worth.
We desire to be a safe place for people to explore Christianity.
God’s grace, his gift of Jesus Christ, is for morally flawed people like us.
No religion here. Religion is something people do in order to be loved, accepted, and acceptable. We are are not promoting religion. We are promoting God’s grace.