Every week on the Lord’s Day the Triune God graciously calls us together in order to serve us. Yes, we gather to be served by God. This is fundamental for us. God brings us together in his presence to give us gifts; we gather at his call to receive his good gifts and respond with thanksgiving and praise.
For this reason, Sunday must be central in the life of our congregation. On this day, we are cleansed from sin, renewed in our faith and trust in Jesus, instructed by his Word, and strengthened as a community at the Table for sacrificial living in his kingdom.
How Do We Approach God?
In the providence of God, the Christian church has a rich heritage to draw from when it comes to how we approach Him. Throughout the Old and New Testaments and down through the first two millennia of the Christian era, God has given us many glorious instructions and examples to follow. However, many Christians in our day spend little effort considering these gifts of God. Instead, many would rather worship God in the way that seems most emotionally appealing or most practical or comfortable.
Following in the footsteps of our fathers in the faith, the historic church has followed a fairly recognizable pattern of worship in obedience to the Scriptures. This service or liturgy is what some have called Covenant Renewal Worship, made up of essentially five parts: Call, Confession, Consecration, Communion, and Commissioning.
Recognizing God’s sovereignty and lordship, we are Called into the presence of the Triune God where we respond with thankfulness and ask for the Holy Spirit to give us grace as we worship. Having arrived, we are reminded of our remaining sin and our continual need for the grace of forgiveness and thus we joyfully Confess our sins to our faithful Father. Having been assured of pardon through the death and resurrection of Jesus, we enter into the presence of God with gladness, singing Psalms, hymns and spiritual songs to the God of our salvation. There, we sit as sons and daughters, eager disciples, listening as God speaks with us through His Holy Word as our great Teacher, Consecrating us as living sacrifices pleasing and acceptable to Him. We offer up our prayers before the throne of grace, pleading the mercies of God for our families and friends, our church and community, our nation and the entire world. Then, in a great climax, He invites us to sit at His table where we Commune as a royal family in His presence. There, He feeds us and nourishes us with the Lord’s Supper. And having tasted the goodness of God and rested in His provision, we stand and are Commissioned and sent out into the world with a blessing to show forth the same grace and peace to all we meet. We respond with a joyful song, thanking our Triune God for the mighty wonders He has done and will continue to do.
Why Covenant Renewal?
This pattern of worship is called Covenant Renewal Worship because it roughly follows the pattern of covenant making and renewal in the Scriptures. We see this pattern in the offerings of the Old Covenant: the Sin Offering, Ascension Offering, Tribute Offering, and Peace Offering (Lev. 9). We also see this pattern in God’s work of creation (Gen. 1) and the renewal ceremonies of Israel (e.g. Deut. 29, Josh. 9:30-35). Far from being strange or esoteric, this pattern is built into the very way God made the world and gives God’s people freedom to come before Him in joyful confidence, believing that our prayers are heard, our praise is accepted, and we really are blessed and strengthened for honest, faithful service. Ultimately this is all because Jesus Christ is the one and only atoning sacrifice for sin and as High Priest in heaven, our advocate with the Father, ever interceding on our behalf.
While we are very grateful for what God has already given to us and the recovery of a high and glorious heritage in worship, we are also convinced that as God gives new and genuine reformation and revival to His Church, the Holy Spirit will lead His people into ever increasing faithfulness and wisdom. And so, far from thinking we’ve somehow “arrived,” we expectantly look to the Author and Finisher of our faith to continue to grow us up into the one true man, the image of Jesus Christ.