The following post is by Amy Spencer. Amy serves SMR as co-director for our Children’s Ministry and also serves on our worship team.
This past Saturday evening, I was blessed to be a part of a very special gathering. Our worship team, with Pastor Siby at the helm, got together for a potluck and meeting. I mention the potluck part first because, if you’ve ever met anyone on worship team, you know the promise of food was a major draw, and you know it was the food that makes you wish you were there, too. Did I mention that Brenda made mango cheesecake? The streets of heaven will be paved with Brenda’s mango cheesecake. But wait! I digress…
The ridiculous amazingness and Instagram-worthiness of our meal aside, the meeting part was deeply moving and inspirational. We prayed, worshiped (I mean seriously – 16 musicians and singers praising with their whole hearts, musical gifts, and creativity – THAT is what heaven will sound like), and Siby walked us through an outline of our order of worship on Sundays at Seven Mile Road – specifically the parts of the service when the band is on stage so we might know why we do what we do.
Let me start with this: I had no idea! Now, if you had asked, I might have suspected that maybe one of the songs is chosen to amplify or reflect the sermon content. Like, maybe there are a few key words in common. But I had no clue the amount of attention to detail that goes into every decision that is made in planning the entire service, why we say what we say, and how we select songs to stir our hearts and glorify God.
Have you noticed the pattern of our service? The order of our service is arranged like a “Cliff’s notes” (uh-oh, I think I just dated myself) of the Gospel. You could come to a service knowing nothing of what we believe, and yet be led step-by-step through the progression of the gospel. We open with a CALL TO WORSHIP, where God invites us and we magnify Him and see him as holy and perfect, which leads us to consider our own unworthiness, leading us to the CONFESSION of our sins. Have you considered that the response of our confession is immediate? We don’t noodle around, and neither does God. When we are confronted by a holy God, we are confronted with the reality of our unholiness before him. But then! We are lovingly comforted in the ASSURANCE OF PARDON, and the immense forgiveness we receive each week by our gracious God because of Christ. Next we proclaim together the CREED, which connects us through the ages to saints who have gone before, and stirs us to conviction and reminds us of what we firmly believe as Christ followers in a broken world. Then, as people who have been graciously welcomed by God to worship, we get to extend a WELCOME to all who have come, to PRAY with and for one another, and to GIVE cheerfully because Christ has given himself to us. After we read the scriptures together and hear it preached to us during the SERMON, we sing again in RESPONSE to the gospel we have just heard. And then we get to share a meal together at COMMUNION, a visible reminder of the work of Christ on our behalf. We then receive the BENEDICTION, which reminds us of God’s promise and it sends us out with God’s blessing. Together we then sing the DOXOLOGY! Many of us on worship team have a special love for the Doxology. I relish the sound of all of our voices raised together a cappella in rich harmony, peaceful and blessed by the words we’ve heard and the joy of worship, praising God for his blessings. And then there’s the DISMISSAL. I know it’s one of the most predictable parts of the service – it happens every week – but I absolutely love being sent forth with the words “Go on mission. Go in peace.” Every week it’s the earnest encouragement to remember the good things we’ve learned and the blessings God has piled upon us in Christ. Take them with you out into the world, into your daily life, into work and school, into your home, and share the good news. Don’t flip the “church” switch back off and go road rage off into the sunset. Allow the Holy Spirit to enter your heart, change you, and use you to glorify the King.
I left completely overwhelmed with gratitude (to the point of becoming embarrassingly weepy) for the immense amount of work, prayer, research, planning, and preparation that goes into every single aspect of our service on Sunday morning, every single week! I knew there was something special going on, but until I considered it, I don’t think I truly appreciated that when our pastors speak in front of the church, we can literally feel their intense desire to reach our hearts. Their yearning to communicate the Gospel to us and to fan the flame of the Holy Spirit in us is palpable. There is nothing left to chance. Nothing is skipped over to cover next week. Nothing is assumed. Nothing is ever phoned in. What a gift God has given us in allowing us to gather as Christians to worship, learn, and pray together. Just as the troubled Psalmist regained clarity when he came into the sanctuary of God (Psalm 73), I pray that we are all instructed and blessed by our Sunday gatherings each week – to be called by God to worship, to confess our sins, be forgiven, hear his Word, and to respond in faith. I’m grateful to be a part of Seven Mile Road with you. Go on mission. Go in peace.