Redemption Peoria launched gathered worship on Sundays, February 2014. God has been adding many to our congregation each week as we gather, both on Sundays and in our Redemption Communities throughout the week. One of the most common conversations I’ve had as we’ve started is around what we do when it comes to worship. We understand that, for many, Sundays with us feel familiar to churches they’ve attended or served in the past. For many more, however, Redemption Peoria’s worship gathering may be something totally new.
In terms of what we DO – we reach out to good musicians in our midst, and invite them to serve the body that way. Our band plays with elements of folk, rock, pop, and other styles, and leads the congregation with songs that cover the full range of human emotion from deep sorrow to adoration, and the full truth of the gospel. We employ readings, prayers, hymns, and confessions to structure our worship on Sundays. This work on behalf of the people is historically called “liturgy.”
What we hope to talk about is WHY we do it, for it’s very intentional. We do what we do in worship when we gather for the purpose of what it does in us when we scatter. What we do in worship shapes the way we approach God in private. An intentional liturgy helps us tell the gospel story to ourselves and each other, and through repetition we cultivate good “vertical habits.”
Simply put, we remember and rehearse the story of the gospel each week when we gather. We do this because we constantly have amnesia toward the gospel, and we never want to forget it.
As Christians, when we worship God we are told a different story than the one we get from the world. This story is told by God, Himself. This turns our own stories upside down, and begins to form us more into His likeness. It compels us to live our lives differently, to live all of life for Jesus, to live more fully human.
This is the story we tell each week when we gather together for worship:
GOD | CREATION
Worship starts with God, and not with us. God calls us to worship throughout the scriptures, and He’s given us breath in our lungs and voices to respond with prayers and songs of adoration and praise to Him. God is good, and everything He created was good.
MAN | FALL
God’s good creation has been distorted by sin. We admit our part in that each week, spending time to confess our sins to God and one another. We also spend time lamenting that things are not as they ought to be because of sin. We read scriptures and sing songs that echo these emotions.
CHRIST | REDEMPTION
Whatever bad news of sin is swallowed by the good news of the grace of God. Through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we are adopted and saved into His people. This assurance of grace is why we can approach Him boldly, confessing our sins knowing that they are forgiven. Once we’ve remembered the severity of our sin, we are immediately reminded of the unsearchable depths of God’s grace in and through Jesus.
RESPONSE | RESTORATION
The story continues, because the work of Jesus continues in restoring all things back to Himself. He has redeemed us for a purpose, to go and remake the world. And so God sent His Spirit to the world to build a community, His church, for the purpose of proclaiming and embodying the good news of what He’s done to a watching world until He comes again.
A bulk of what we do when we gather fits in this section. The instruction of God’s Word [sermon], which encourages, challenges, stretches, and builds us up as believers is during this time. We also give during this time. We participate in communion. We’ll have baptisms, greet one another, and spend time in silence during this time in our gatherings as well. It’s all a part of retelling God’s story of rebuilding the world and us.
Finally, we end our time just as we started – with the Word of God. The benediction – a blessing for the road, sends us out into the world with a final reminder of God’s goodness. Look up, and hold out your hands during this time, and receive from God His good word.
Our prayer is that all that we do when we gather constantly points our heads, hearts, and hands to the one and only thing that binds us together and to God: the gospel.