|Worship at Olentangy Church
We gather for worship each Sunday morning at 10:00. We welcome you to join us.
Worship lies at the heart of our common life at Olentangy Church. Well-designed liturgy provides a structure for simple, beautiful worship that celebrates our connection to Jesus Christ and to his church: one, holy, catholic, and apostolic. The liturgy we use at Olentangy Church contains time-tested elements that reach to Westminster Abbey, Geneva, Jerusalem, and to our own front yard.
The following paragraphs list the elements of our Sunday liturgy along with a few comments about each, usually indicating its pedigree and rationale.
Long and broad Christian tradition uses a musical prelude to set the stage for worship. Appropriate music helps us to turn our hearts and minds to God.
The Gathering honors an Olentangy Church tradition. The Gathering builds and reinforces our sense of community as we share needs and news.
Modern Worship Songs
We celebrate the ongoing development of the church's worship by singing several modern worship songs, led by a multitude of instruments and singers.
When the minister says, "Our help is in the name of the Lord . . . ," we honor our Reformed roots by echoing the liturgy of John Calvin's Geneva. A congregational "Amen" affirms this declaration.
Collect of the Day
A collect is an ancient prayer form that gathers into one sentence an address to God, an expression of divine attributes, a petition, an expression of the result desired, and a doxology. Usually these collects are taken from the Book of Common Prayer of the Episcopal Church and reflect the season or even the Sunday of the church year.
Prayer of Confession
Confession of sin, too, is an ancient part of worship. Through the prayer of confession (often using prayers found in the Book of Common Prayer or in the Book of Common Worship), we humble ourselves before God and express our need for his mercy.
Words of absolution follow the prayer of confession. Such words are familiar in the Episcopal and Roman Catholic traditions. They also were part of John Calvin's liturgy and nearly became a fixed element in Christian Reformed liturgy in the 1920s. Through these words we are assured of the abundant mercy of God.
Connections between the Peace and the greetings the Apostle Paul offered to churches ("Grace and peace to you . . . ") are obvious. Through words and gestures of peace, we put into effect the great implication of the reconciling work of Jesus Christ: not only have we been reconciled to God, we also have been reconciled to one another.
Scripture Readings and Psalm
The tradition of reading Holy Scripture in worship stretches back thousands of years. For much of the year, the readings we hear follow the selections of the Revised Common Lectionary (RCL). Lectionaries, too, are ancient. The RCL is used by many Protestant denominations and is closely related to Roman Catholic and Episcopal lectionaries.
After the readings, and in common with many Christian traditions, we hear and respond to a declaration that we have heard, not mere human words, but the Word of the Lord. (The reader says, "The Word of the Lord." The people reply, "Thanks be to God.")
Although the origin of children's stories is not clear, we use them nonetheless in order to give the children (and surely some adults!) a "way in" to the sermon. At home these stories as a springboard to talk about the sermon with children or grandchildren.
The sermon is a longstanding element of worship in the Christian tradition. Through the sermon, the minister proclaims the good news that Jesus Christ is King, while the congregation listens to hear in that good news what God might be saying to the church.
Confession of Faith
Through the ministry of Word and Spirit, God binds us together and builds us up as a people who share a common story. Through our confession of faith, we give utterance to (at least part of) that shared story. For the confession of faith, we use various statements, some of them broadly ecumenical (the Apostles' and Nicene Creeds), some of them more particularly Reformed (the Heidelberg Catechism). Creeds have had a place in worship from the church's first centuries.
The Prayers and the Lord's Prayer
Like Scripture readings, prayers have been a part of worship for millennia. In prayer we express to God our thanksgiving and our petitions for the church, for the world, and for ourselves. Sometimes these prayers will be punctuated by repeated congregational responses. Through these responses, the congregation participates more directly in the ministry of prayer. These responses also provide a means for children to participate actively. The prayers sometimes follow time-honored forms from the Book of Common Prayer, the Presbyterian Church (USA) Book of Common Worship, the Lutheran Book of Worship, or other sources.
We conclude the prayers by uniting to say the Lord's Prayer. Doing so we honor, not only our Lord who taught this prayer to his disciples, but also the holy catholic church, for this prayer has been on the lips of the people of God since the time of Jesus' pre-resurrection ministry.
Following the oldest of Christian traditions (see Acts 2:42), we present offerings to God. These offerings are used to support the ministries of the church and to care for the needy.
The Holy Communion liturgies have been adapted from the Book of Common Prayer and Christian Reformed Church resources. The language is, in many respects, catholic (that is, universal). In fact, both the structure and the phrasing of the Holy Communion liturgy conform to ancient practice reported by Hippolytus around A.D. 215. A distinguishing feature of these Holy Communion liturgies is a focus on prayer rather than on instruction.
The Prayer of Thanksgiving
This prayer echoes ancient liturgies for Holy Communion. In a service without the celebration of Holy Communion, this prayer gathers up and expresses an outburst of thanksgiving to God.
These songs are usually more traditional and honor the church's long heritage of hymnody. Through these songs we express thanksgiving and praise.
The blessing of the people is as old, at least, as the Aaronic blessing of Numbers 6. These words give us comforting assurance of God's favorable disposition toward us, to which we respond with a hearty "Amen."
Long and broad Christian tradition uses a musical postlude to lead the people forth from worship. The postlude lifts our hearts and our feet as we go forth to live as God's children in God's world.
To this basic pattern of worship, weekly and seasonal adjustments are made as appropriate. However, the basic outline and forms remain the same, honoring patterns and practices that have found their place within the church of Christ for a few years or for many centuries.