We celebrate our diversity at SCC. We have people from many nations and many faith traditions. This is reflected in the diversity of dress styles. For some, worship means dressing in “one’s Sunday best” as we seek to offer our best to God. For others the call is to “come as you are to worship” and more casual attire is the norm. You are welcome to dress as you feel comfortable.
Many arrive anxious to talk to friends whom they have not seen all week. Others consider the beginning of the service their time of quiet to prepare their hearts for worship. During the last few minutes before the service officially begins, our organist usually plays.
You can expect to be greeted and handed a hymnbook and worship sheet as you arrive. Feel free to find a place to sit—anywhere is fine as we do not have assigned seats. If you have children, you might want to sit closer to the front so that they can see better and follow along. If you have younger children, who may get fussy during the service, you might want to sit near the back so it is easier to take them to the nursery. (Our nursery does have the sound piped in, so if you need to stay with your child, we hope you will be able to hear the service.)
See a recent worship sheet here: Service Sheet January 11, 2015
- Our service begins with a welcome and announcements. We then move into our official “Call to Worship”, often an “Opening Scripture,” in which we stand and read together. (Those who find standing difficult are encouraged to remain seated,) This is followed by a Hymn of Praise. On most Sundays following the opening hymn we sit or kneel (depending on one’s tradition) and say together a prayer of confession for our sins or shortcomings. After being reminded in our opening reading and Hymn of Praise who God is, we recognize that we all fall short and are sinful or “broken” in some way. We confess not only our sins but recognize the brokenness of the larger world. This confession of sin is not about focusing on how “awful we are”, rather it is a reality check of our need for healing and wholeness. This is also the time when we hear the Good News again with an affirmation of forgiveness or reconciliation. In other words, at the very beginning of our service we hear again and commit again to the “salvation story”: The God who creates us, calls us and loves us, is ever ready to forgive and heal us through Jesus Christ our risen Lord.This healing, forgiving God also calls us to a new life.
- The next section of our worship is our time of listening to God’s Word for our lives. We listen to Scripture readings, we sing more songs and hymns, we hear a message during the time for the children, we may say or hear a prayer and we listen to a sermon. The sermons are designed to be teachings that are both theological and practical– theological in the sense of putting the particular Bible stories into their broader and proper context; practical in that they challenge or comfort us in a way to help us be open to the Holy Spirit’s leading in our daily lives. We do have Bibles in the pews for worshipers to use to follow along with our Bible readings.
- We ultimately glorify God by responding in faith, obedience and love to God’s call. We continue our service by offering our lives and ourselves to God in tangible and symbolic ways. Our “offering” is a way to give back to God financially, but also to commit or recommit to using our time and talents in some way. We affirm our faith together with a spoken affirmation. This may be one of the ancient traditional creeds of the church, which are fairly universal, such as the Apostles’ Creed or the Nicene Creed. Or we may simply read a portion of scripture together. Often we use a modern affirmation of faith taken from any number of faith traditions—Methodist, Presbyterian, UCC, the Iona community for example. We respond by offering our prayers of dedication and our prayers for the world.
- Part of our response to God’s call may also come in the sacraments of communion or baptism. We celebrate communion on the first and third Sunday of each month. All who seek to follow Christ are welcome to participate in communion. Many churches have unique patterns for communion. We usually invite people forward, pew by pew, to kneel at the communion rail to receive the bread and the cup. Come as the ushers direct you. If you are unable to come forward and would like to receive communion, simply tell the usher and the elements will be brought to you. When we deviate from this pattern, as we do from time to time, the directions will be more explicit. We provide wine or grape juice. We have no age limitation for communion, but suggest younger children meet with the pastor or his wife to better understand this special sacrament. When we have Baptisms they are normally part of our regular Sunday morning worship. Baptism includes a commitment and profession of faith on the part of the one being baptized, if he or she is older, and on the part of the parents of younger children or babies. Meeting with the pastor is required before baptism.
- Finally we are sent out to serve. Our closing hymn and benediction are reminders that our service of worship should lead to our serving God and God’s people. Even as we have experienced again God’s love and grace through our worship, we are empowered to go out and share this Good News by our words and our deeds. God is not confined to the building, but goes with us. Symbolically this is represented as our acolyte takes the light from the Christ candles on the communion table and heads down the aisle. The light of God in Christ remains with us as the Holy Spirit to lead us and guide us.
You have read the words “often”, “usually” or “normally” on a number of occasions. The order of service as described is very regular, but naturally there are exceptions and deviations from the norm. We hope you will find SCC a place where you are welcomed warmly, where you can worship and serve faithfully with other believers. We hope you are comfortable enough here to encounter the living God, but not so comfortable that you remain the same. It is as we worship, study, share and serve together as the Body of Christ that we allow God to transform us into the new creations in Christ that we are called to be.