Elements of Worship Service
Rev. David Schmidt
April 1, 2021
As we anticipate the completion of our sanctuary remodel, I have been dedicating my articles to the importance of worship in the life of our congregation. Last time, I drew our attention to the gift of the Lord’s Supper that God has given to his church. In this article, I would like to highlight different elements of the worship service so that you can better understand their importance.
Invocation – We invoke the name of the Lord as I say, “In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” These words remind us of our baptism where the name of our Triune God was first placed on us, marking us as his own. At the beginning of the service the Invocation reminds us that God is here to serve us as we gather in his name.
Confession and Absolution – We confess our sins before God recognizing that what he says about us in 1 John 1:8 is true: “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” And, in confessing those sins, we are given this wonderful promise in 1 John 1:9: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
So, after the Confession, I pronounce the words of the Absolution to absolve (or forgive) the sins of the congregation. When I say, “I forgive you,” it is not my forgiveness, but Christ’s forgiveness delivered in this personal way. The congregation is not simply reminded of forgiveness, but receives it in this proclamation.
Psalm/Introit – Sometimes we read together the assigned Psalm for that Sunday, and other times we read the Introit. Psalms are divinely inspired prayers given to the church. The Introit is a collection of passages from the Psalms that connects to the theme of the assigned Old Testament, Epistle (letters written by the Apostles), and Gospel readings.
Collect – This is a brief prayer before the readings that summarizes the gospel message for the day. The word is pronounced “CALL-ect”.
Creed – The word creed comes from the Latin word “credo” which means “I believe.” We confess our common faith that we share with the ancient church and the worldwide church today. There are three Creeds that we confess in the service: The Apostles’ Creed, the Nicene Creed, and once a year on Trinity Sunday, the Athanasian Creed.
Agnus Dei/Lamb of God – After the Words of Institution are spoken and before the Lord’s Supper is distributed to the congregation, the congregation sings “Lamb of God.” In this song we are reminded that we are about to receive the very body and blood of the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.
Post-Communion Collect – This is a prayer said at the end of communion both thanking God for what he gives us in this supper and that the gifts given in this supper would accomplish his purpose in his people.
Benediction – the service closes with the blessing that comes from Numbers 6:24-26 where Aaron blesses the people saying, “The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; The LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.” We leave the service reconciled to God through Jesus Christ and we live in his peace as we serve in him and others.
The placement of these elements provides a flow that first prepares us to receive God’s gifts, and then as we receive those gifts, we respond with prayer, praise, and thanksgiving. We depart from the service ready to enter the mission field and serve