While we celebrate creativity and variety in worship, we do follow a similar pattern each Sunday. During our services, we open our spirits to God in three steps (Gathering, Listening, Responding), steps that root us in our Christian tradition and which is common in many churches.
However, like all congregations, we are unique and have our particular ways of being. For example, our sharing of the peace may be more boisterous than some, and we like to have lots of voices, beyond just the ministers, participating in creating and leading our worship.
Along with many churches we follow the Revised Standard Lectionary. This is a three year rotation of Biblical readings. These readings form the foundation of our worship service. While following this cycle, we do give permission to create services with other themes.
Three Steps in a Sunday Service
Step One: Gathering
Each Sunday, we open ourselves to the Spirit as we gather as a “people of God” who come from separate lives and are knit together into community. We are woven into this gathered community through welcome and opening silence (a grounding experience) and music. Our time of gathering is deepened through a “Call to Worship”, the singing of hymns, and sharing the Peace of Christ.
Integral to this gathering is the lighting of the Christ Candle. This is a reminder that each of us carry sacred light within us, and in this lighting we proclaim the words of our United Church Creed, “we are not alone, thanks be to God”.
Our children and youth are part of our gathering. Learning with our children is an important part of our worship. Subsequent to this mutual learning, our children and youth leave to continue celebrating in their own spaces.
Step Two: Listening
After being gathered as a faith community, we open ourselves to God’s spirit by listening for the word of God. This word can come many ways – through music or an anthem, through drama, through the reading of Scriptures, through the voice of another, through the voice of the one who reflects on the stories of the Scripture or shares their own wisdom.
Step Three: Responding
The final step in our worship experience is our response to God’s Spirit and to the Word we have heard. We respond by offering our prayers as a people of God, by sharing our gifts of money to support the community and our sacred work, and by being sent fort to live our faith in the world.
This response also includes creating space to be in community by providing time to share information about our community life. We also respond by spending time together in “conversation and refreshment”.