Thursday, February 24, 2005

A Model for Worship Assemblies

congregational practices
in the light of the Holy Scriptures

We gather to worship on Saturday, the seventh day of the week, ordained as the Sabbath by the Holy One from Creation . The Holy Bible proclaims the Sabbath a day of sacred assembly for “proclamation of holiness”. The weekly Sabbath is observed throughout the Old Testament and kept by Jesus, his apostles and their early followers. Most Christians abandoned keeping the Sabbath to meet instead on Sunday only after all the apostles had died – under the influence of church authorities compromised under severe persecution.

We observe "the appointed feasts of the LORD" as revealed to Moses and kept by Jesus, his disciples and New Testament congregations.

We don’t observe holidays with pagan origins or trappings – such as Halloween, Christmas or Easter—which have no place in the “your most holy faith … once for all entrusted to the saints”. Along with Jesus and his apostles we uphold the law of Moses about worship: “See that you do all I command you; do not add to it or take away from it”.

Our worship service usually lasts about two hours and is ordered as follows:

A hymn of thanksgiving and praise , accompanied by piano playing , and then an opening prayer .

Scripture Reading and one or two hymns, and sometimes a special musical performance.

Inspired Speaking is usually a sermon, but may be two short sermons, or a discussion – for a period we try to hold to about 40 minutes or less. The Holy Bible is our wellspring of teaching and exhortation, aiming to help us stand firm in the faith. At the speaker’s discretion there may be a brief period for questions and comments after a sermon. Earlier in the history of our congregation, inspired speaking came after announcements and sometimes too many songs. With it at the beginning we no longer have a problem with people struggling to stay awake!

The major Song Service follows inspired speaking—the most opportune time to sincerely sing joyfully, thoughtfully, and enthusiastically.

Praise and Prayer gives an opportunity for individuals to publicly offer thanks and praise to God, or to make prayer requests or offer prayers.

In Church Commentary the Pastor reports news or correspondence, announces events of interest, and speaks about whatever else he, or others at his discretion, may be moved to share.

The worship service concludes with a brief song service and a closing prayer.

Most of the mature men and women of the congregation perform the various functions of the worship service as volunteers in rotation.

The worship leader each week is a volunteer, man or woman, who chooses and leads hymns and chooses and introduces those who give opening and closing prayer, and announces the Scripture reader, any special music, the Speaker, the Praise and Prayer moderator, and the Church Commentary period.

The volunteer for Scripture Reading chooses the passage, a coherent unit usually of a chapter or less.

An inspired speaker, when not the Pastor, as is often the case, is one who has accepted his invitation to serve. Most are elders of our congregation but some are members or leaders of other congregations.

A volunteer moderates Praise and Prayer.

We don’t collect money during our weekly worship service. Tithes and offerings are given privately to our treasurer. Offerings during worship services are taken up only on the seven annual holy days .

After the worship service refreshments accompany fellowship and there is a “potluck” meal on the first Sabbath of each month.

A small church library lends cassette tapes of inspired speaking, and edifying books, DVDs and videotapes, especially materials upholding divine Creation and the Deluge and refuting contrary teachings. Denial of the Genesis record, as Peter predicted long ago, is a major cause of scoffing and unbelief in these times.

Free literature is offered. Those who want them can get cassette tapes of our inspired speaking, which are mailed to members and friends who can’t be with us personally. They are offered online as mp3 files from our Web site. There is no charge for any materials we produce. Sometimes as a congregation we make a bulk or wholesale order of edifying books offered in the marketplace to either give away or resell to our members and others at our cost.

Anyone is welcome to attend , except drunk or unruly visitors . Occasionally our usual rented meeting room isn’t available or we may’ve chosen to meet elsewhere, so if you haven’t met with us before, or for awhile, it is safest to call us before visiting to confirm our location. If when you arrive we are not meeting in our usual room we may be elsewhere in the building complex; inquire at the main office. We own no property and have no permanent home, though we would like to have one!

When you visit, please sign our guest book!
References and Notes:

The seventh-day Sabbath is day of worship from Creation: Genesis 2:1,3; Exodus 20:8-11; compare with John 1:1-14.

Sabbath is a day of commanded assembly: Leviticus 23:3. “Proclamation of holiness” is an alternate rendering of the original Hebrew mikra’ei kodesh, often translated “holy convocations”, that is, sacred gatherings. Especially it is the time to gather to hear the word of God. See The five books of Moses: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy: a new translation with introduction, commentary, and notes by Everett Fox. 1995, Word Publishing, notes at Leviticus 23:3.

Christ and his apostles kept the Sabbath: Mark 1:21; Luke 4:16, 31-31; 23:56; Acts 18:4.

How the Sabbath was abandoned: From Sabbath to Sunday: A Historical Investigation of the Rise of Sunday Observance in Early Christianity by Samuele Bacciocchi, Rome, 1977.

"These are my appointed feasts, the appointed feasts of the LORD, which you are to proclaim as sacred assemblies" Leviticus 23:2. The whole chapter of Levitcus 23 is devoted to them. Our congregation observes the annual holy days on dates determined by the standard Hebrew Calendar. Some members sincerely hold to other Calendars. In disputable matters let no one lord it over anyone’s faith (2 Corinthians 1:24, Romans 14:4, 12).

The annual holy days were kept by New Testament congregations: Matthew 26:19; Acts 20:6; 1 Corinthians 5:8; Acts 2:1; 20:16; John 7; Acts 27:9. They were keeping Pentecost (Leviticus 23:16) the day the Holy Spirit came upong them!

"your most holy faith ... once for all entrusted to the saints": Jude 20, 3 (The Holy Bible, New International Version, all quotes here unless indicated otherwise).

“See that you do all I command you; do not add to it or take away from it.” See Deuteronomy 12:32, 13:4; 12:29-31.

Opening hymn of thanksgiving and praise: Psalms 95:2; 100:2,4.

Piano playing: 1 Chronicles 15:16 and many other verses show that accompanying hymns with musical instruments is appropriate.

An opening prayer: His house is to be “called a house of prayer” (Isaiah 56:7) so it is appropriate for prayer to be given a prominent role in our worship assemblies. However, prayers should neither be excessively long or ostentatious (Luke 20:47), which is not to the glory of God.

Scripture reading: Paul’s pastoral advice to Timothy is “devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture” (1 Timothy 4:13), advice which we believe still holds (1 Peter 1:25).

Inspired speaking with emphasis on conveying Scripture, participation of the congregation in questions and comments: 2 Timothy 4:2; 3:15-17; 1 Corinthians 14:29; 1 Timothy 4:13.

Participatory praise and prayer: Psalms 26:12; 35:18.

Sharing: "...all must be done for the strengthening of the church...": see 1 Corinthians 14:26.

A brief closing song and closing prayer: Matthew 26:30.

Most mature members of the congregation participate in worship service functions: 1 Corinthians 14:24-26; 12:7-10.

Collection of offerings as a portion of the worship service is limited to annual holy day services: Deuteronomy 16:16-17. Other tithes and offerings may be given freely to the congregational treasury, but are not formally collected. The temple and synagogues often had a box.

Visiting and eating together: Acts 2:42.

Peter predicted scoffers who ridicule the Genesis record of Creation and the Deluge: 2 Peter 3:3-7.

Religious literature offered without charge: Matthew 10:8.

Unbelievers and seekers are welcome: 1 Corinthians 14:24.

Things must be done in a fitting and orderly manner: 1 Corinthians 14:40; stay home if you're drunk: Galatians 5:21.


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