Sunday morning worship, 10:30 a.m.
Sunday morning worship at St. Giles at 10:30 celebrates God’s mighty acts through the history of God’s people, the beauty of creation, and particularly through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Our worship is ordered around God. We are God-centered—gathering in God’s name, gathering around God’s word in both the Old and New Testaments of the Bible, responding to God’s word, and going out in service into God’s world. We praise God by making a joyful noise (Psalm 100:1) and by solemnity (Psalm 46:10), by speaking and listening, with bells, song, tithes and offerings, laughter, prayer, and, rarely, with liturgical dance! Our reading of the Bible reminds us that we are welcomed into a holy narrative more than a doctrine. Our preaching attempts to unpack the morning scripture in a way that will draw us closer to appreciating and loving God. Our singing puts to music both ancient and brand new lyrics that lift our voices in praise, awe, and gratitude. In addition to congregational singing, our choir enriches our services of worship with special music.
Children of God—of all ages—are welcomed in worship. “Worship bags” keep our younger children engaged with coloring books and pew activities. We provide “extended session” for our toddlers, and a nursery for our infants. However, children are welcomed to stay in worship the whole hour—really, they are. At St. Giles we try to take our baptismal vows seriously. We believe that together, all ages and points of view, are the church. We are a big tent. Paul reminds us that we are the very body of Christ: brains, eyeballs, big toes, elbows, and all the rest. We belong together. (Click here for some helpful tips and resources compiled for families who are seeking for worship to be a meaningful experience for children of all ages.)
The goal of everything we do in worship is to glorify God. We often say “Amen” in worship but the goal of Christian worship is for us to do it honestly, energetically, and thoughtfully enough that God is the one who says “Amen!” We can’t do this alone, so we pray always for the Spirit’s help.
The Theater of Worship . . . Christian philosopher Søren Kierkegaard compared Christian worship to the theater. Sometimes it’s easy to mix up who’s who. People often think the main actor is the pastor, the audience is the congregation, and the choir and other leaders are the supporting personnel. Not so. According to Kierkegaard, the actors are the congregation—they are on stage. The pastor, choir, liturgist, and other up-front leaders are the supporting personnel coaxing the best from the actors/congregation. And the audience? God is the audience. It is God we aim to please, to celebrate, to worship.
Sacraments are visible signs of God’s invisible grace. The elements of sacraments—water, grape juice/wine, bread—point beyond themselves to God. The Presbyterian Church celebrates two sacraments, Holy Communion, sometimes called the Lord’s Supper or the Eucharist, and Baptism.
We celebrate Holy Communion on the first Sunday of each month; all baptized persons are encouraged to partake in this joyful feast. The bread and juice remind us of Jesus’ self-giving love, his body given for us. We believe that Jesus is really present with us by the power of God’s Spirit at the Communion table.
We baptize infants, children, and adults. When infants and young children are baptized, their parents and the congregation make vows on their behalf. When those children are young teens, they’ll be invited to explore their faith and that of the Christian church in special classes with the pastor and other leaders in order that they may claim their faith and make their own public profession of faith. In baptism, we celebrate not primarily what we promise to do, but what God has already done. God loves us, created us, claims us, redeems us, and sustains us. Life-giving water is a symbol of this grace. While our promises are not always reliable, God’s are. It is to God’s promises to which we cling, even as we pray that God help us to be faithful to our vow to be disciples of Christ.
From Service of Worship to Service in the World . . . As worshippers leave our front parking lot, they are greeted with a small sign, “Now you are entering your mission field.” This reminds us that our service of worship issues forth in service to neighbor, particularly to those whom Jesus called ‘the least of these.’ As we leave the St. Giles campus, we go out to practice the sermon that is our lives. We strive to take Augustine’s words to heart: “Preach often. If necessary, use words.”