Worship At Covenant

Introduction

We worship at 10:00 AM and 6:00 PM every Sunday and we would love to have you join us! Click here for bulletins.

From the early days, we have had an active liturgy committee whose members, working with the pastor, take turns preparing the services each week.

Our morning worship is liturgical in nature. We believe that we come to God’s house at His invitation to worship and to dialogue with Him. He speaks to us through His Word and we respond. You will usually recognize these components in the dialogue:

The people sing praise to God and invoke His blessing. The Lord greets His people.

The people confess their sin. The Lord assures His people they are forgiven. The people express thanks.

The Lord summons His people to a new life of obedience. The people dedicate themselves.

The people pray that the Lord will enlighten them through His Word. The Lord speaks to them by way of the message. The people respond with a song of dedication or praise

The people share their joys and concerns with each other and before God; the people give an offering for the Lord’s work. The Lord responds with His blessing.

Our evening services are a blend of traditional, liturgical and contemporary styles of worship. A praise team usually leads the time of worship which is centered on God’s Word.

One distinct characteristic of Covenant’s worship is the time set aside each week, generally during morning worship, for the congregation to share their joys and concerns. These times can be, and often are, both emotional and bonding as people share their joys and trust their fears and longings with fellow worshipers.

If you are interested in participating in worship—singing, reading, planning, playing an instrument, etc.—fill in the worship resource survey at this link.

Worship Statement of Covenant CRC 2013

From earliest times, God has called his people to worship. Rituals of worship governed every aspect of daily life in the Old Testament; each Sabbath was set aside for worship; and feast days celebrated throughout the year drew God’s people together for worship. Jesus regularly went to the synagogue to worship, and Paul instructed the New Testament church to “let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with wisdom, and as you sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God” (Col. 3:16b).

So, one might conclude that the church after 2000 years ought to have worship figured out. But that is not the case. Different Christian denominations form and develop different worship traditions, and then, over time, those traditions change. Today’s worship scene is complex, presenting both opportunities and challenges for worship planning: music comes in a wider variety of styles; new trends in church organization, from house church to mega church, make us think about worship in new ways; technology is shaping our lives in new ways. All of this and more has led us to reexamine worship at Covenant. In doing so we have focused on four basic questions about worship:

  • What theological principles undergird our worship?
  • What are the purposes of worship?
  • Who are the participants in our worship?
  • How does Reformed theology shape our practices?

Theological Principles for Worship

All of life is worship. Corporate worship, those occasions when God gathers us together to worship him, nurtures our sense of life as worship. It teaches us how to worship, showing us what God requires and prompting us to explore how worship may find expression in our daily lives. It calls us to acknowledge the rule of Christ in our lives and refreshes us for lives of service.

Coming out of the Reformed tradition, we understand that worship begins with God: he made all things (the cosmos) to reflect himself and to worship him. He claims our worship because he made us, saves us, and sustains us. Our worship, then, is shaped by the many and deep ways in which we respond to God: in awe at the amazing world he created, in sorrow for sin and brokenness in that world, in joy and gratitude for his redemptive sacrifice for all of his creatures, and in hope for the new life to come. All of these responses belong to our worship.

Our worship should be

Trinitarian, acknowledging God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. As God is communal—Three in One—so worship should foster unity among God’s people.Word-centered, ensuring that the Word is central in our services. Preaching, liturgies, songs, and prayers should be biblical, reflecting the deep riches and mystery of God’s revelation.

Redemptive-historical, connecting us to the biblical salvation story of God’s covenant love for his children from creation, through the fall, in the redemptive work of Jesus Christ, and until his kingdom is restored in the new creation. Our worship should connect to the church throughout history and in our contemporary world. It should create a sense of expectancy for the coming kingdom and acknowledge our membership in a world-wide church.

Sacramental, bringing us near to God as did the Old Testament sacrifices and the New Testament sacraments of baptism and communion. Our worship should regularly include a celebration of the sacraments in ways that draw us near to God and to each other.

Creator-Oriented, acknowledging that the sovereign Lord has called the entire cosmos into being, revealing his power, divinity, and love. He calls us as image bearers to live in covenant communion with him and one another, developing and caring for his amazing and complex world. We encourage one other to honor and serve him daily, loving one another and seeking the well-being of all he has made.

Dialogic, listening to God speak and responding to him in obedience, praise, and action. In our worship, we should experience God.

Grace-filled, celebrating God’s abundant and amazing grace. Our worship should reflect this profound reality.

We affirm with the Contemporary Testimony that “The church is the fellowship of those who confess Jesus as Lord” (¶ 35) and “The church is a gathering of forgiven sinners called to be holy” (¶ 39), and we joyfully testify that

Our new life in Christ
is celebrated and nourished
in the fellowship of congregations,
where we praise God’s name,
hear the Word proclaimed,
learn God’s ways,
confess our sins,
offer our prayers and gifts,
and celebrate the sacraments. (¶ 36)

The Purposes of Worship

We believe that worship is absolutely vital to the life of the church and that we gather in worship to

encounter the triune God and experience the mystery and wonder of his presence

acknowledge him as Creator, Sustainer and Redeemer

experience the enfolding and encouraging fellowship of our brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus

pass on the faith through the generations

sharpen our understanding so that our faith is strengthened.

offer our praise and thanksgiving, acknowledge our sins, bring our petitions, and give our offerings.

tell the good news of salvation and bring the healing hand of justice to the lost and suffering world.

The Participants in Our Worship

God meets us, his people, in worship, speaking to us through his presence, his Word, and the sacraments.

Worship services at Covenant should engage everyone who attends. We want to craft services in which people of all ages, at all stages of life, and people of other Christian traditions can bring honor and glory to the Lord. We respond together in liturgies and raise our voices in congregational singing as one body of believers.

We provide children’s worship for our preschoolers and welcome children to the Lord’s Table.

We involve young people in various aspects of our services.

We look to mature members for wisdom and understanding and acknowledge their role in passing the faith to younger generations.

We value family participation in worship, and we embrace singles as brothers and sisters in Christ.

We welcome people of all racial and ethnic backgrounds.

We enfold the gifted, the needy, those broken in body or in spirit, the mentally or physically challenged, the introvert and the extrovert.

The Practices of Our Worship

Building on our denominational worship history and a tradition that pushes us to be continually reforming, we draw from tried and true traditions as we explore and develop new ones. We want to worship together in biblically appropriate ways that allow us to hear God’s Word for living in today’s world, feel his presence in our lives, and express our praise and gratitude to him as our Maker, Savior, and Sustainer.

As a congregation we embrace a historic Reformed liturgical order of worship. Even though every traditional element of worship may not be obvious in each service, this gives us a structure from which to plan services and the flexibility to be creative and relevant. The elders oversee our worship services.

Our worship liturgies should

be accessible to members of different ages and with different interests, recognizing that every element of every service may not be everyone’s choice for how we sing or speak our praise and response to God

be fresh, rich expressions of our love for God, using a variety of artistic forms of expression

be comfortable, yet stretch us all in ways that we might not choose ourselves if we were planning the service

reflect our biblical, Reformed understanding of what we profess we believe in our creeds and confessions

use the gifts of our members, encouraging and nurturing each other to grow in our expressions of those gifts

use songs that draw from the psalms as well as the best of traditional and contemporary hymnody, songs that encourage vibrant congregational singing and are written and sung in a variety of styles and with diverse instrumentation

be well planned and thoughtful, sometimes more exuberant, sometimes more reflective

challenge us through historical, redemptive preaching to live lives of radical Christian discipleship

Conclusion

Finally, our worship is a public expression of love; our love of God and our love of each other. Therefore, to paraphrase the words of St. Paul, if our liturgy speaks with the best poetry of men and if our choir sings like the angels, but does not have love, we are only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If our preaching has the gift of prophecy and our teaching has the theological depth to fathom all mysteries and all knowledge and if our professions of faith can move mountains but do not have love, they are nothing. If we give all we possess to the offering plate and give over our bodies to work projects, but do not have love, we gain nothing. If we worship in love, our worship cannot fail.