Worship Review: August 28

29. August 2011 General 0

Congregational Singing
We always begin our services with a quiet prelude. Then a pastor gives the call to worship based on a passage from Scripture, followed by a time for silent confession of sin and the assurance of our pardon from sin through the blood of Jesus. This begins the “dialogue” of worship, wherein God speaks to us through his written word, and we respond in faith to him through prayers and praise.

This Sunday, we were delighted to have the Cedar Springs Orchestra join in our worship. Brad McIlwain has been in charge of growing and preparing the orchestra for worship for a couple of years now. And through his God-given talents, we have seen a lot of growth in the orchestra, both in quantity and in quality. (Brad also directs the Music Academy, which has seen similar growth!)

This Sunday, using revised arrangements that we purchased from PraiseCharts, we sang Mighty to Save, O the Blood, & Revelation Song.

The PraiseCharts arrangements are orchestral interpretations of the original recordings. Oftentimes we don’t particularly like the PraiseCharts arrangers’ ideas. The trumpets usually get a little too “Herp Albert” for our congregation’s tastes.  So Brad and I spend some time rearranging the parts. Interestingly, sometimes just switching the brass and strings can solve a lot of the problems.
At this point in the service we historically have sung the Doxology. I am currently deciding on a weekly basis whether or not we will. If it fits musically, we do. If it only exists as a cue for the ushers to come down to take the offering, I don’t; especially if it takes the wind out of our sails in worship. Whatever we do, I am trying to faithfully pray at this moment with a focus on our offering.

Here’s the gist of what I prayed Sunday:
Blessed Savior Christ
We praise and thank you for clearing our earthly debts
And for the joy of being able to make a fresh start.

We praise and thank you at an infinitely deeper level
For coming to earth to die for us
And to pay for those debts of sin
which we could have paid for ourselves.

As we enter into this portion of our worship
When we give our tithes and offerings,
We want to especially pray for the church staff and elders –
That you would grant them wisdom, discernment, integrity and, most of all unity,
As they make decisions for next year’s budget.

Get glory in our giving and in our spending.
May your gospel of grace & the miracle of your mercy
Motivate all that we do as a church….
Some books that have really helped me prepare to pray publicly are The Westminster Collection of Christian Prayers, Valley of Vision: A collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions, and The Worship Sourcebook, all from which I have borrowed liberally. (For instance, the first two sentences in my above prayer came from The Westminster Collection, which helped me move into my own prayer for our particular church.)

Offertory Anthem
Under the direction of Gene Peterson, the Sanctuary Choir and the Rejoice! Choir, joined by the orchestra and band, did a rousing anthem entitled Our Great God by Cliff Duren. Though I’ve grown kind of numb to the adjective “passionate” in the Christian subculture vocabulary of today, which the song’s chorus uses in describing “our great, passionate God”, I appreciate how our pastor, John Wood, took that term and used it in his pastoral prayer. It’s true, our God is not the dispassionate, unmoved Mover. He is passionate in his love and in his wrath.

For our Communion songs, we used a string quartet.
The first song was Bob Kauflin’s version of the old hymn O the Deep, Deep Love of Jesus. Bob has become a faithful friend over the years, and has earned my deepest respect as a worship leader, pastor and musician. However, he is also a great songwriter and arranger. His remake is golden: Oh the Deep Deep Love. We ended Communion with Lead Me to the Cross.
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