Why Do We Do That?

Rev. C. Richards -


Sometimes I see things from the other side around. I’ll walk into the sanctuary on a Sunday – and all of a sudden, I see it as if I wasn’t used to any of the things we do. It usually happens when I see a guest or a friend come along with someone else. I feel empathy for them as they are trying to figure this whole church thing out!.

Folks are all greeting each other, cheerful, but why? Then we all sit down and stand up a bunch. There are words we all read together in sort of a dull, bored voice.

Then some guy in a white robe or dress or something stands up in front and and sings some words that everyone responds to. And some candles get lit. After that there’s a song – either Glory to God in the highest (the highest what?) or This is the feast – but there might not even be any food after church – so what’s that about?


Someone else gets up and reads some old fashioned stuff, usually about God? Then the white robe guy lectures everyone – enthusiastically – but everyone sits real quiet. Then more reading things together and finally another song or two and its time to go have some snacks, oh, and some kid in another robe puts the candles out. Weird.

There are good reasons for the things we do during church. But unfortunately, during worship is probably the worst time to try and explain those things. So if anyone comes in who isn’t used to church, it can be a stiff learning curve. It can be hard to figure things out, and no one wants to ask because they don’t want to look silly. Ironically, I think there are plenty of folks who’ve been church members for decades who similarly don’t ask what’s going on, because a. They are used to it, and b., they also don’t want to look silly.

Even as a Pastor, I didn’t know the reasons for all the stuff we do or could do during worship until my last year or so of seminary education.

So – here is a quick and dirty explanation. It’s gonna be fast and straightforward. So review as necessary.

1. Confession and forgiveness – Humans think we are in charge. But we aren’t – We ask God to remind us, and fix it

2. Opening Hymn – We’ve been forgiven, now we are all the same in front of God (and one another) so we sing

3. Liturgy – Even though we’ve been forgiven, we’ll mess up more in the future. So we ask for help for the future.

4. Hymn of Praise – God does have mercy, and God will give us Communion and Salvation – so we sing a thank you.

5. Prayer of the Day – this prayer is related to the readings, it primes the pump for the scripture.

6. Scripture – We hear the Bible read by a church member. We follow a three year group of readings with themes.

7. Sermon – The pastor, or a lay member talks about how the readings apply to today, now, to us, here.

8. Creed – We remind each other and ourselves that the truth is sometimes easy to forget – God is in charge.

9. Prayers – We pray for everyone, everywhere, Christians and non Christians, the World, and those in need.

10. Offering – We give back to God what God has given us for the sake of others– including the bread and wine.

11. Communion – We eat bread and drink wine and somehow Jesus himself shows up in us. (But not every Sun.)

12. Blessing – After being forgiven, asking for help, hearing the word, and receiving Jesus himself, we are sent back out into the world with God’s blessing. We ask for God’s help to love the world as it isn’t so sure about us...

13. Sending – we sing one last song, and then gather for fellowship together to talk about life and everything

If you ever have a question about worship – or if you’d like to learn more about it – I’d love to walk with you through all those questions. Or if you’d ever like to try worship in a new way – I’m up for that to! Ultimately, our Worship of God is how we as a community of believers in Jesus decide to love and thank God – and to stay united in faith and love for one another and for the wider world. And there’s lots of ways to do that!

And by the way – if you’d like to invite someone to join us in worship – this might be a good primer. It’s tough to walk into a new church building if you aren’t big on church, or if you don’t know the rules, or worse, if you do! Having a little prep, so that you don’t feel nervous or weird is a huge help and is just plain good hospitality and kindness!

Christ’s Peace: PrCR