Order of Worship for the Lord’s Day

ORDER OF WORSHIP FOR THE LORD’S DAY

The service of worship ordinarily begins with the Votum, Sentences, and Salutation. Or it may begin with the Hymn, especially if it is a processional, followed by the Votum, Sentences, and Salutation.

THE APPROACH TO GOD

VOTUM

Our help is in the name of the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.
Amen.

Psalm 124:8

SENTENCES

The following, or other appropriate portions of Scripture, may be used.

O come, let us worship and bow down,
let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker!
For he is our God,
and we are the people of his pasture,
and the sheep of his hand.

Psalm 95:6-7

And/or

Psalm 33:1-5 
Zechariah 8:7-8 
Exodus 15:2 
Psalm 96:1-3 
Psalm 100
Psalm 43:3-4
John 4:24
Isaiah 55:1, 6-7

SALUTATION

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Amen.

Or

Galatians 1:3-5 2
Jude 2 1
2 John 3
Titus 1:4
Peter 1:2
Revelation 1:4-5
Timothy 1:2

HYMN

PRAYER OF CONFESSION

The minister may introduce the prayer with the following, or another suitable call to confession.

Let us confess our sins to almighty God. Let us pray.

All shall join in one of the following prayers or another appropriate confession.

Have mercy upon us, O God,
according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercies,
blot out our transgressions.
Wash us thoroughly from our iniquity,
and cleanse us from our sin.
For we know our transgressions,
and our sin is ever before us.
Create in us a clean heart, O God,
and put a new and right spirit within us.
Cast us not away from your presence,
and take not your Holy Spirit from us.
Restore to us the joy of your salvation,
and uphold us with a willing spirit.
Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Adapted from Psalm 51

Or

Most holy and merciful Father,
we acknowledge and confess before you our sinful nature,
prone to evil and slow to do good;
and all our shortcomings and offenses.
You alone know how often we have sinned:
in wandering from your ways, in wasting your gifts,
in forgetting your love.
But, O Lord, have mercy on us,
who are ashamed and sorry for all wherein we have displeased you.
Teach us to hate our errors;
cleanse us from our secret faults;
and forgive our sins;
for the sake of your dear Son.
And, O most holy and loving God,
help us to live in your light and walk in your ways,
according to the commandments of Jesus Christ, our Savior. Amen.

A brief period for silent prayers may be allowed. The following or another suitable response may then be said or sung.

Lord, have mercy upon us.
Christ, have mercy upon us.
Lord, have mercy upon us.

ASSURANCE OF PARDON

One of the following scriptural assurances or one drawn from other portions of Scripture may be used to convey an assurance of God’s promise freely to pardon all who come to him in repentance and faith.

The Lord is merciful and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
He does not deal with us according to our sins,
nor repay us according to our iniquities.
For as the heavens are high above the earth,
so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far he removes our transgressions from us.

Psalm 103:8, 10-12

Or

With everlasting love I will have compassion on you,
says the Lord, your Redeemer.
I, I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake,
and I will not remember your sins.
Return to me, for I have redeemed you.

Isaiah 54:8; 43:25; 44:22

Or

Can a woman forget her nursing child,
or show no compassion for the child of her womb?
As a mother comforts her child,
so will I comfort you, says the Lord.

Isaiah 49:15; 66:13

Or

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son,
so that everyone who believes in him may not perish
but may have eternal life.
Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world,
but in order that the world might be saved through him.

John 3:16-17

Or

Psalm 130:3-4, 7 
John 8:34-36 
Luke 1:68, 77-78 
Isaiah 44:21-22
Psalm 145:18-19
Colossians 1:11-14

At the conclusion of the scriptural assurance, the minister shall add:

Believe this Gospel and go forth to live in peace. Amen.

THE LAW OF GOD

The Law may be read or sung, or the service may proceed to the reading of the Summary.

God spoke all these words, saying,
I am the Lord your God,
who brought you out of the land of Egypt,
out of the house of slavery;

you shall have no other gods before me.

You shall not make for yourself an idol,
whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above,
or that is on the earth beneath,
or that is in the water under the earth.
You shall not bow down to them or worship them;
for I the Lord your God am a jealous God,
punishing children for the iniquity of parents,
to the third and the fourth generation of those who reject me,
but showing steadfast love to the thousandth generation of those
who love me and keep my commandments.

You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God,
for the Lord will not acquit anyone who misuses his name.

Remember the sabbath day, and keep it holy.
Six days you shall labor and do all your work.
But the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God;
you shall not do any work—
you, your son or your daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock,
or the alien resident in your towns.
For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea,
and all that is in them,
but rested the seventh day;
therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and consecrated it.

Honor your father and your mother,
so that your days may be long in the land
that the Lord your God is giving you.

You shall not murder.

You shall not commit adultery.

You shall not steal.

You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

You shall not covet your neighbor’s house;
you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife,
or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything
that belongs to your neighbor.

Exodus 20:1-17

And/or

Hear what our Lord Jesus Christ says:
“You shall love the Lord your God
with all your heart,
and with all your soul,
and with all your mind.”
This is the greatest and first commandment.
And a second is like it:
“You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
On these two commandments
hang all the law and the prophets.

Matthew 22:37-40

or as it is recorded in Mark 12:29-31.

PSALTER AND GLORIA PATRI

A selection from the Psalms and the Gloria Patri or another appropriate hymn may be sung to express gratitude to God.

THE WORD OF GOD IN PROCLAMATION AND SACRAMENT

PRAYER FOR ILLUMINATION

This prayer or another petition may be offered.

Guide us, O Lord,
by your Word and Holy Spirit,
that in your light we may see light,
in your truth find freedom,
and in your will discover peace;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

LESSONS

There will ordinarily be two or three lessons, one from the Old Testament, one from the portion of the New Testament other than the Gospels, and one from the Gospels. The Psalm for the day may be said or sung following the first lesson. A hymn or anthem reflecting the Scriptures of the day may be sung between the lessons. The lessons may be announced as follows:

The Word of the Lord from __________________________.

After the reading of the lesson there may be the response:

This is the Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God.

The Gospel may be announced as follows:

The Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to ___________________.

The following may be used as a response to the Gospel:

This is the Gospel of the Lord.
Praise to you, O Christ.

SERMON

The minister shall deliver a sermon proclaiming the Scripture of the day.

PRAYER FOR BLESSING

Almighty God,
grant that the words we have heard this day
may, through your grace, be so grafted within our hearts
that they may bring forth in us the fruits of the Spirit,
to the honor and praise of your name;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The minister shall move to the table.

When worship includes only the grace of the Word in Proclamation, then the Creed, Offering, Doxology, Prayers of Thanksgiving and Intercession, Hymn, and Benediction may be understood as the congregation’s Response to God.

CONFESSION OF FAITH

The minister shall call the people to join in an affirmation of the Christian faith.

Let us confess our Christian faith using the Nicene [or Apostles’] Creed:

When all have risen, the minister shall say:

Let us say what we believe.

A  THE NICENE CREED

We believe in one God,
the Father, the Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all that is, seen and unseen.

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
of one Being with the Father;

through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation
he came down from heaven,
was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary
and became truly human.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered death and was buried.
On the third day he rose again
in accordance with the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.

We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father [and the Son],
who with the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified,
who has spoken through the prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come. Amen.

Or

THE NICENE CREED

We believe in one God,
the Father almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
and of all things visible and invisible;

And in one Lord Jesus Christ,
the only-begotten Son of God,
begotten of his Father before all worlds,
God of God, Light of Light,
very God of very God,
begotten, not made,
being of one substance with the Father;
by whom all things were made;
who for us and for our salvation
came down from heaven,
and was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary,
and was made man;
and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered and was buried;
and the third day he rose again according to the Scriptures,
and ascended into heaven,
and sitteth on the right hand of the Father;
and he shall come again, with glory,
to judge both the quick and the dead;
whose kingdom shall have no end.

And we believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and giver of life,
who proceedeth from the Father and the Son;
who with the Father and the Son together is worshiped
and glorified;
who spake by the Prophets,
and we believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church;
we acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins;
and we look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come. Amen.

Or

A  THE APOSTLES’ CREED

I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.

I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again;
he ascended into heaven,
he is seated at the right hand of the Father,
and he will come to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen.

Or

B  THE APOSTLES’ CREED

I believe in God, the Father almighty,
maker of heaven and earth;

And in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord;
who was conceived by the Holy Ghost,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, dead, and buried.
He descended into hell.
The third day he rose again from the dead.
He ascended into heaven,
and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father almighty.
From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Ghost,
the holy catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen.

PEACE

The minister may introduce the Peace with these, or other appropriate words of Scripture:

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called
in the one body.

Colossians 3:15

The peace of Christ be with you.
And also with you.

The congregation may then exchange the Peace using the same greeting and response or through other appropriate words and actions.

OFFERING

As the offerings are gathered there may be an anthem or other musical offering. The elements for the Lord’s Supper may be brought forward with the offering.

DOXOLOGY

This hymn, or another ascription of praise, may be used as the offerings are brought forward.

MEANING OF THE SACRAMENT

Beloved in the Lord Jesus Christ,
the holy Supper which we are about to celebrate
is a feast of remembrance, of communion, and of hope.

We come in remembrance
that our Lord Jesus Christ was sent of the Father into the world
to assume our flesh and blood
and to fulfill for us all obedience to the divine law,
even to the bitter and shameful death of the cross.
By his death, resurrection, and ascension
he established a new and eternal covenant of grace and reconciliation
that we might be accepted of God and never be forsaken by him.

We come to have communion with this same Christ
who has promised to be with us always, even to the end of the world.
In the breaking of the bread he makes himself known to us
as the true heavenly Bread that strengthens us unto life eternal.
In the cup of blessing he comes to us as the Vine
in whom we must abide if we are to bear fruit.

We come in hope,
believing that this bread and this cup
are a pledge and foretaste of the feast of love
of which we shall partake when his kingdom has fully come,
when with unveiled face we shall behold him,
made like unto him in his glory.

Since by his death, resurrection, and ascension
Christ has obtained for us the life-giving Spirit
who unites us all in one body,
so are we to receive this Supper in true love,
mindful of the communion of saints.

INVITATION

The minister, in the name of Christ, shall extend an invitation to all present concerning participation in the Sacrament.

All baptized Christians present who are admitted to the Lord’s Supper are to be invited to participate.

COMMUNION PRAYER

The Lord be with you.
And also with you.
Lift up your hearts!
We lift them up to the Lord.
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is right to give our thanks and praise.

Holy and right it is, and our joyful duty
to give thanks to you at all times and in all places,
O Lord our Creator,
almighty and everlasting God!
You created heaven with all its hosts and the earth with all its plenty.
You have given us life and being,
and preserve us by your providence.
But you have shown us the fullness of your love
in sending into the world your Son, Jesus Christ,
the eternal Word, made flesh for us and for our salvation.
For the precious gift of this mighty Savior who has reconciled us to you
we praise and bless you, O God.
With your whole Church on earth and with all the company of heaven
we worship and adore your glorious name.

Here all shall say or sing:

Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might,
heaven and earth are full of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest!
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the highest!

Silence

Most righteous God,
we remember in this Supper
the perfect sacrifice offered once on the cross by our Lord Jesus Christ
for the sin of the whole world.

In the joy of his resurrection and in expectation of his coming again,
we offer ourselves to you as holy and living sacrifices.
Together we proclaim the mystery of the faith:

Here all shall say or sing:

Christ has died!
Christ is risen!
Christ will come again!

Send your Holy Spirit upon us, we pray,
that the bread which we break
and the cup which we bless
may be to us the communion of the body and blood of Christ.
Grant that, being joined together in him,
we may attain to the unity of the faith
and grow up in all things into Christ our Lord.

And as this grain has been gathered from many fields into one loaf,
and these grapes from many hills into one cup,
grant, O Lord, that your whole Church
may soon be gathered from the ends of the earth
into your kingdom.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

COMMUNION

The minister shall declare the Words of Institution.

In full view of the people the minister shall take the bread and say:

The Lord Jesus, the same night he was betrayed, took bread;
and when he had given thanks,
he broke it

The minister shall break the bread.

and gave it to them, saying,
“Take, eat;
this is my body which is given for you:
do this in remembrance of me.”

Lifting the cup, the minister shall say:

After the same manner also, he took the cup when they had supped,
saying, “This cup is the new testament in my blood:
this do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”

In partaking of the bread it shall be said:

The bread which we break
is the communion of the body of Christ.

In partaking of the cup it shall be said:

The cup of blessing which we bless
is the communion of the blood of Christ.

THE RESPONSE TO GOD

THANKSGIVING AFTER COMMUNION

Brothers and sisters,
since the Lord has now fed us at his Table,
let us praise God’s holy name with heartfelt thanksgiving!
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and all that is within me, bless his holy name.
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and do not forget all his benefits—
who forgives all your iniquity,
who heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the Pit,
who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy.
The Lord is merciful and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
He does not deal with us according to our sins,
nor repay us according to our iniquities.
For as the heavens are high above the earth,
so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
As a father has compassion for his children,
so the Lord has compassion for those who fear him,
who did not spare his own Son,
but gave him up for us all,
and will also give us all things with him.
Therefore shall my mouth and heart show forth the praise of the Lord,
from this time forth forevermore. Amen.

From Psalm 103, with additions

INTERCESSION

The following prayers may be used. Intercessions may be selected from other sources or may be in the minister’s own words. The intercessions shall conclude with the Lord’s Prayer.

Let us pray.

We praise and thank you, O Lord,
that you have fed us at your Table.
Grateful for your gifts and mindful of the communion of your saints,
we offer to you our prayers for all people.

God of compassion,
we remember before you
the poor and the afflicted,
the sick and the dying,
prisoners and all who are lonely,
the victims of war, injustice, and inhumanity,
and all others who suffer from whatever their sufferings may be called.

Silence

O Lord of Providence,
who holds the destiny of the nations in your hand,
we pray for our country.
Inspire the hearts and minds of our leaders
that they, together with all our nation,
may first seek your kingdom and righteousness
so that order, liberty, and peace may dwell with your people.

Silence

O God the Creator,
we pray for all nations and peoples.
Take away the mistrust and lack of understanding
that divide your creatures;
increase in us the recognition that we are all your children.

Silence

O Savior God,
look upon your church in its struggle upon the earth.
Have mercy on its weakness,
bring to an end its unhappy divisions,
and scatter its fears.
Look also upon the ministry of your church.
Increase its courage, strengthen its faith,
and inspire its witness to all people,
even to the ends of the earth.

Silence

Author of grace and God of love,
send your Holy Spirit’s blessing to your children here present.
Keep our hearts and thoughts in Jesus Christ, your Son, our only Savior,
who has taught us to pray:

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial,
and deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours,
now and forever. Amen.

Or

Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name,
thy kingdom come,
thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we forgive our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
and the power, and the glory,
forever. Amen.

HYMN

BENEDICTION

Facing the congregation, the minister shall give the blessing:

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ
and the love of God
and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
Amen!

2 Corinthians 13:13

Or

Numbers 6:24-26
2 Thessalonians 3:16
Romans 15:5-6
Luke 2:29-32
Psalm 67:1-2
Hebrews 13:20-21

Worship the Lord

The Liturgy of the Reformed Church in America

A treasury of prayers and primary resource for planning and leading worship in RCA congregations.