On Our Liturgy (and Sojourn's)

We've appreciated the ministry of Sojourn Community Church in Louisville a ton.  In fact, Luke and the interns and I spent some QT with them back in July on their new, awesome campus.  Here Lorie King from there shares some thoughts about their typical order of worship.  Pretty much all of this applies to what we do at Karis as well. Why We Do What We Do At Sojourn Gathered, by Lorie King

In our weekly services we have a usual structure that we follow—-our “liturgy”—-that helps us meditate on the gospel:  God is holy. I am sinful. Jesus is my savior. God reveals himself to us, and we respond.  When we see who God is and what he has done, we are reminded of who we are and what we’ve done, and of the grace and mercy only available through the cross.

Here are the elements of that structure and what they mean:

Call to worship - We always begin by focusing our hearts on God. God has revealed himself to us in his Word and through his Son, Jesus Christ. He is perfectly good, holy and just. And he has made a way for us to approach him and know him, invited us into a family and a life of freedom.

Expressions of sorrow and repentance - In light of God’s holiness and goodness, we recognize our own wretchedness and confess our sins and attempts to earn salvation or be good enough on our own merit. We are far worse than we think we are.

Celebration of assurance - And he is far more loving than we can imagine. Because of Christ’s sacrificial death for us, and God’s promises to make us new and dwell in us through his Holy Spirit, we can find rest and assurance in God’s faithfulness to forgive our sins and make us more like his Son.

Extending of the peace - Christ has made peace between God and man, and has broken down every barrier between humans through his death. We celebrate our unity as the family of God and welcome one another in this same spirit of peace.  You’ll sometimes hear the “Extending of the Peace” refered to as the “Passing of the Peace” or “Giving of the Peace” as well.

Preaching of the Word - God has revealed himself to us through his Son, but also through his written Word. The Scriptures are the source of truth and where we find a reliable revelation of who God is and what he has done. Hearing and doing the Word of God leads to transformed hearts, minds and lives.   The prayer at the beginning (or before) a sermon is known as the “Prayer of Illumination.”  We pray that God will open our minds and hearts to receive and understand the truth contained in the Bible and in the person of Jesus Christ.

Communion - This symbolic meal reminds followers of Christ that his death on the cross—-his broken body and shed blood—-was necessary and sufficient to pay for our sins and makes a way for us to be right with God and each other. His victory over death displays the very power that is at work transforming us to be more like Christ. We celebrate and look forward to Christ’s return just like he promised on the night he was betrayed.

Giving - We give out of grace, not out of duty. Our Father is the giver of all things, so what we have does not belong to us but to him. Because we have been given much, and because we believe in the work of the church, we give of our resources—-our time, money and lives.

Confession of faith (Creed) - The church of Christ does not exist in a vacuum, but rather shares a rich heritage and tradition with followers of Christ throughout the ages and the world. As a part of the body of Christ, his church, we recite historic confessions (often called creeds) about the truths of Scripture and celebrate this unity.

Benediction - This is a blessing for the road. As we prepare to go out from the church gathered, we acknowledge that we go out on mission—-to continue to be transformed by the gospel of Jesus Christ ourselves and to see that gospel transform the lives, community and city around us—-and that we do not go out alone.