Scripture in Worship
“All Scripture is God-Breathed and is profitable for teaching, admonition, correction, and for training in righteousness so that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.”
(2 Timothy 3:16-17)
“We receive and hold the canonical Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments as the inspired Word of God, and as the only infallible rule and standard of faith and practice, according to which all doctrines and teachers are to be judged.”
(Burry’s Church Constitution, Article II.2)
You would think that the role of the Scriptures in worship would be a kind of “given” for the Christian church. Sadly, that is not always the case. If we know anything, we know it through the lens of the Scriptures. That also means that the scriptures govern and regulate our worship just as they do our lives. Thus, when you visit Burry’s you will find that Scripture is the most dominant part of our worship.
Call to Worship: We transition from a time of announcements into worship with a passage of scripture that calls on us to worship God. We use the same passage for a month at a time so that the words will settle into our lives. If you pay careful attention, often there is a theme that ties the scriptures together from month to month.
Reminder of the Way of Salvation: Early in the service, one of the Elders will read a passage, typically from the Wisdom literature of the Scriptures. There is a way that Christians ought to live and one of the responsibilities of the Elders is to instruct us in that. These readings work consecutively through the book in question, so what is read this week often builds on what the Elder read in the week prior.
Invocation: To “invoke” is just a fancy way of saying that we are asking the Holy Spirit to be present in our worship. To introduce this prayer, we typically read a psalm or a passage from the psalms (if the psalm is longer). The psalms were both the prayerbook and the songbook of God’s people and we are continuing in that practice. And like the reading in the Way of Salvation, if we break up a psalm across multiple days of Worship, we read through them consecutively. This reading is typically done by our Youth Director.
Our Cheerful Offerings: As Christians, we are called to give cheerfully to the work of the Church (2 Corinthians 9:7). Thus, we introduce the time of offering with a passage of Scripture that reminds us of God’s call upon us to give to His work. This reading is led by one of the men on our Church Council.
Resurrection Words of Admonition: Before we move into the Pastor’s main prayer (one that focuses heavily on our confession of sin), we read a passage from the Gospels from Jesus’ instructions to the church. These admonitions of our Lord are meant to help us focus on a portion of our life that ought to be reformed or of which we need to repent.
The Sermon: The largest portion of our church service is dedicated to the sermon, which is meant to instruct and exhort us from the Scriptures. Our Pastor tends to preach through books of the Bible (or large portions thereof) and thus, like many of the readings, what you will hear read and explained this week is built upon those things read and explained in prior weeks. In the sermon, the text of the Scripture is explained and then applied to our lives, preaching being the first and most common part of what we call the Office of the Keys (Heidelberg Catechism, Questions 83-85).
Benediction: The service closes with a “benediction,” which is just a fancy way of saying: “Good words” or more loosely, “words of blessing.” This too is taken from Scripture and is designed to remind us of the blessings of God that go with us as we exit the worship service.
Other: There are other times where you will find the Scriptures engaged in our worship — the use of the Sacraments, for example, and also in many of the songs that we sing. God’s word should super-saturate our being so that it pours out into everything we do, inside of the church and in the community, but especially during the gathered worship of God’s people.