Come into his Presence
Preparing for Worship
worship - [from the Old English word weorthscipe, meaning honor, dignity, reverence] the reverent love accorded God; rites and ceremonies by which this love and reverence is expressed; ardent humble devotion; the honor and love of God.
Worship, like anything that is truly worth doing, takes work and preparation. What follows are suggestions and aids to help us prepare for worship, acts and prayers to help us prepare to offer our ardent love to God.
The place of worship has been designed and set apart for a purpose. It may be
grand like the cathedrals of Europe or it may be as humble as the field in which
Jacob rested his head on a rock for a pillow, but it is holy because it is the
place where we encounter God himself. Moses took off his shoes in the presence
of God in the burning bush in the wilderness, and Isaiah cried out in anguish at
his unworthiness to be in the presence of God in the temple in Jerusalem. To
approach God in worship requires a proper attitude and intentional preparation.
Entering the Church
Arriving at the Church at the last minute doesn’t work. Plan to arrive early.
Save conversation with other people until after the service. Kneel down and ask
the Holy Spirit to direct and guide your worship. Prayer #64 on page 833 of the
Prayer Book is a good place to start, but using your own words is also great.
Find the beginning of the service in the Prayer Book. Look up the hymns. If you
are reading a lesson, go to the Lectern and read it over ahead of time. Check
the pronunciation of unfamiliar words and names.
Getting our house in order goes with having company. It is also in order before
we worship as we are “keeping company” with God. Are there things that will get
in the way of our worship? Things like anger, resentment, pride, the need to
have our own way? Take a look at your life and make a mental list of what you
need to confess. Need help? The Litany of Penitence in the Prayer Book, page
267, is a good place to start. One of the great gifts of Holy Communion is the
forgiveness of sin, but we need to be honest and specific in confessing our
Quieting and Centering Ourselves
We need to make a transition from the hustle and
bustle in our lives to that “ardent and humble devotion.” We need to quiet
ourselves and center ourselves on God. We need to remind ourselves, “Surely the
Lord is in this place…. How awesome is this place! This is none other than the
house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.” (Genesis 28:16-17). The presence
of God is an awesome place, and it is also a place where we are invited to find
rest. “There remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God; for whoever enters
God’s rest also ceases from his labors as God did from his. Let us therefore
strive to enter that rest….” (Hebrews 4:9-11)
Repetition of a short prayer or text of Scripture is an effective way to begin centering ourselves, before moving on to other prayers.
Living and true God, Creator of all
things, You I worship, you I adore.
(Attributed to St Alban, first martyr of Britain)
How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.”
Peace before us, peace behind us,
Peace under our feet.
Peace within us. Peace over us.
Let all around us be peace.
(Based on a Navajo prayer. Repeat this prayer replacing
the word peace with love, then light, then Christ.)
Christ be with me, Christ within me,
All highest glorious God, cast your light into the darkness of my
heart. Give me right faith, firm hope, perfect charity, profound
humility, with wisdom and discernment, O Lord, that I may do what is
truly your holy will.
A Prayer before Worship
With all who have ever sought you,
as I leave this holy place, I give you thanks for the great
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