The Rhythm of Discipleship (Foundations of Christian Faith)

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It assumes that worship leaders and congregation are to be in constant prayer.


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Worship is a sacred time when the people are led by the Holy Spirit to pray Romans and to worship God 1 Corinthians Like the Basic Pattern, it is a guide to help those who plan worship see the structure and flow of our services. It is not intended that the congregation follow pages in the hymnal while at worship. The congregation may be guided through the service by a bulletin or by announcement, whether or not Holy Communion is celebrated. This order is also the basis of the Services of Word and Table and other services in this book.

It rests on the same biblical foundations as the Basic Pattern and incorporates the experience and traditions of Christians through the centuries, with particular care to include what is distinctive in our United Methodist heritage. Acts of worship that reflect racial, ethnic, regional, and local customs and heritages may be used appropriately throughout this order.

As Jesus invited children to come to him, so United Methodist worship should welcome children and youth as an integral part of the community as participants in, and leaders of, worship. Congregational worship services should include stories, songs and other music, and actions that are appropriate to children and youth of various ages and abilities. The worship service begins when the people begin to gather for worship. What takes place during the Gathering includes both what the people do as they are entering the place of worship and what happens after they are seated.

This should express their coming together in the name of the God revealed to us in Jesus Christ. This time is both an outward and visible gathering of the people and an inward and spiritual gathering--a focusing of awareness that they are a people gathered in the presence of the God known to us through Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit. Even when a worship service immediately follows another activity such as Sunday school in the same room, and some who have been at the earlier activity simply remain seated for the worship that follows, the Gathering is a crucial part of the worship service.

The six acts suggested above for the Gathering may be combined in various ways: 1 may be encouraged before 5 and 6 begin, or before persons have entered the place of worship; 2 , 3 , or 4 may also precede 5 and 6 ; 4 may take place during 5 and 6 but in another room.

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None of these combinations in itself is more valid than another, but one may be far more appropriate than another, depending on the particular congregation and circumstances. Other acts may also be appropriate during the Gathering. If candles are used, they may be lighted by acolytes. If there is to be no processional hymn, the worship leaders and choir s may enter and take their places. Facing the people, the leader greets them in the Lord's name. The Greeting should be explicitly Christian, declaring that the Lord is present and empowers our worship.

A collection of such greetings is found on and in The Christian Year, Or it may be a responsive act between leader and people, such as: Leader: The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you. People: And also with you. Leader: The risen Christ is with us. People: Praise the Lord! The choir may also sing a Christian greeting to the congregation, sometimes called the Introit, but this should not be a substitute for the greeting by the leader.

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The hymn may precede or follow the Greeting. The people, having been greeted in the Lord's name, may return the greeting to God with a hymn of praise.

On the other hand, where the architecture of the worship space or the nature of the occasion calls for a ceremonial entrance of choir and worship leaders, a processional hymn or entrance song should come before the Greeting, allowing the Greeting to be spoken with the leader facing the people. The rhythm of a processional hymn should be appropriate for walking and long enough for the completion of the procession. See the listing of Processionals in UMH This hymn is most appropriately corporate praise to God, centering on attributes and deeds of God that call forth gratitude and praise.

In addition, it may express the people's greetings to one another in the Lord's name and exhortations to praise. It should normally be familiar, upbeat, and affirming. This and other hymns and songs in the service may be related to the joy of the Lord's Day, or to the day or season in the Christian year. A doxology, stanza, chorus, acclamation, or canticle may also be sung at this point, possibly repeated every Sunday, at least for a season, so that the people know it by heart.

Some congregations have their own theme song, which may be sung every Sunday here or later in the service. A hymn that is a call to praise may be sung. Any of these may immediately precede an opening hymn of praise. It is appropriate to stand during the singing of this hymn and remain standing for the Greeting if that follows the hymn. Opening prayers, together with opening hymns, establish that our worship is communion with God as well as with one another.

They include recognition of who we are before God by centering on the nature and gifts of God. Here and elsewhere in the service, the posture for prayer may vary according to local custom and circumstance. The biblical tradition of standing to pray is always appropriate, especially when the people stand for praise immediately before or after the prayer. Kneeling for prayer is also appropriate, especially in confession. Praying seated and bowed is acceptable, especially if the alternative is for persons to be kept standing or kneeling for an uncomfortable length of time.

Here or elsewhere in the service, when an individual leads in prayer the Amen should be spoken or sung by the whole congregation. Sung Amens are found in UMH It may be prayed in unison or led by one person. It may be preceded or followed by silence. It may be a prayer suited to any occasion or any Lord's Day; or it may address God in the light of the theme of the day or season of the Christian year.

See the collection of prayers on A number of such prayers--some for general use and some for particular days, seasons, or occasions--are also scattered among the hymns in UMH. A prayer of confession and declaration of pardon belong together; neither should be used without the other. The leader may be a lay liturgist.

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See the collection of prayers of confession and acts of pardon on See also the examples printed in UMH , 12, , and and the listing of hymns that can be sung as prayers of confession UMH Confession and pardon may take place either at this point in the service or later, as a Response to the Proclamation of the Word. In an opening prayer of confession the people confess the sin of which they are already aware and then come to the Proclamation of the Word in the assurance of God's pardoning grace. The acknowledgment that we are sinners saved by grace is also appropriate in opening prayers of the day or litanies.

Confession as a Response to the Word includes the added awareness of personal and corporate sin to which persons are led by the Proclamation of the Word.

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See the litany on Suitable sung litany responses in UMH include:. After the Opening Prayer s , if an act of praise is desired, one or more of the following may be spoken or sung, actively involving the whole congregation if possible:.

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Choirs may sing at various points in the service, such as here, between lessons, or at the Offering. Wherever an anthem is sung, it should be appropriate to its place in the service. Anthems that give the whole congregation a familiar or easily learned part to sing are increasingly common and especially recommended. The people can become actively involved in any anthem by saying Amen at its conclusion.

Other possibilities for an act of praise at this point include a hymn, hymn stanza, chorus, doxology, or a spoken litany of praise. If announcements and welcoming are not placed in the Gathering, they may follow the Opening Prayers and Praise. The blessing of the Holy Spirit is invoked upon the reading, preaching, hearing, and doing of the Word. The following adaptation of Psalm may also be used:. Let the words of our mouths, and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, our Rock and our Redeemer.

UMH , , and may also be used for this purpose. This prayer may be prayed by the congregation in unison, by someone other than the preacher, or by the preacher. If the Opening Prayers are not followed by an Act of Praise, the Prayer for Illumination may be included with the Opening Prayers, or a single prayer may serve both purposes.

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Many traditional collects can serve this double purpose and enable the service to move directly from the Opening Prayer to the reading of the Scriptures. Two or three scripture readings should be used. The sequence of readings may be ordered so that the sermon is immediately preceded by the primary text to be preached. The ancient and ecumenical order of these readings, however, embodied in the Revised Common Lectionary readings on , is as follows:.

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If there are not Old Testament, Epistle, and Gospel readings at each service, care should be taken that over a period of time the people hear representative readings from each. When laypersons, including older children and youth, are chosen to read the Scriptures in the service, they should be allowed time and opportunity to prepare. Each reading may be introduced as follows: "A reading from or Hear the Word of God in the book of , the chapter, beginning with the verse.

Or the reader may say, "Amen," and the people respond, Amen. If desired, the congregation may then sing a scripture acclamation such as one of those listed in UMH After the first reading, a psalm or psalm portions may be sung or spoken as an Act of Praise, the people standing. An anthem based on the psalm is also appropriate.


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Before the final reading, a hymn or song related to the scriptures of the day, or an alleluia, may be sung.