United Reformed Church of Sunnyside

Our Worship

Worship Service Times

We invite you to attend our worship services at 10 am and 5:30 pm every Sunday.  

Following the morning service there is a time of fellowship with coffee and snacks provided.

Our street address is :
1750 Sheller Rd, Sunnyside, WA  98944.
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How do we Worship?

Mankind was created to worship the Lord.  This is our chief end.  The problem is, that we have chosen to “worship and serve the creature rather than the Creator” (Romans 1:25), preferring the love of self rather than the love of our Maker.  However, as Christians who are reconciled to God through the blood and righteousness of Jesus Christ, we are able, by the grace of God, to fulfill our chief end once again.  As Christians, we live to worship the Lord. 

Yet this is not something we do merely in private, but in public.  As those who belong to Jesus Christ in body and soul, we belong not only to Christ as Head but also to His body, the church.  And as Christ’s church, God has called us to gather together, week after week, morning and evening, and meet with Him.  Corporate worship is a divine-human dialogue, whereby God speaks to us through His Word and Spirit, declaring His Law and Gospel, and we respond with prayers and offerings of thanksgiving.  In this amazing event, God renews His covenant with us; He puts on a real-life drama of redemption and incorporates us into His salvation story, creating and equipping disciples of Jesus Christ from every tribe, tongue, and nation.

However, God not only deeply cares that we worship Him but how.  Going all the way back to the 15th and 16th century Protestant Reformation, Reformed Christians have believed that we are to approach God according to His divine appointment, that we might “offer to God acceptable worship” (Hebrews 12:28).  God has called us to worship Him according to His Spirit and truth (John 4:23-24; cf. Exodus 20:4-6).  This means that Scripture itself is the rule for our worship at the URC of Sunnyside.  At our church, we endeavor to worship God according to His own steadfast design, not according to the fluctuating “commandments of men” (Matthew 15:9).

Here’s a sample of our Morning Order of Worship, including explanations for each element.  This basic Order goes back to the 16th century Reformed church in Geneva, Switzerland, and is more-or-less standard for conservative Reformed churches.

ORDER OF WORSHIP

 

Call to Worship

The Greek word for “church” is “ecclesia,” which means “those who are called out from.”  As those who belong to Jesus Christ, God has called us out of the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of His Son (Colossians 1:13; 1 Peter 2:9).  God’s summoning word creates the church (Psalm 29:3-11; Acts 12:24).  Likewise in our worship, God Himself creates the gathering, calling us from our ordinary lives into His extraordinary presence, like a King summoning His servants.  And He does so through His revealed Word.  Two prime examples of the Call to Worship are Psalms 66 and 100.
 

Invocation

From the Latin “invocare,” this is our responsive ‘amen’ to the Call to Worship, whereby we call upon God, summoning Him to His people’s aid.  There are many examples of this principle of worship in the Old Testament, including the Psalms (Psalm 5:1-2; 130:1-2).

 

God’s Greeting

Having been gathered into God’s presence, God greets us with a gracious word, like a father saying “Hi, I love you” to His children after a time away.  This is how local churches are greeted throughout the New Testament, with the grace and peace of God Himself (Romans 1:7; 1 Corinthians 1:3; Galatians 1:3; Ephesians 1:2; Philippians 1:2, many others).

 

Song of Praise

Our songs of worship are simply prayers set to music.  At this time of the service, we respond to God’s gracious greeting by singing praises to Him, utilizing primarily God’s revealed songbook, the Psalter, as well as many hymns.  Whether psalms or hymns, our songs are one of God’s appointed means for the Gospel to transform our lives as individuals and as a congregation, causing the “word of Christ to dwell in us richly” as we express our “thankfulness to God” for His Son Jesus Christ (Colossians 3:16; cf. Ephesians 5:18-21).

 

Reading of the Law

God speaks to us both in Law and Gospel.  In the reading of God’s Law, we hear of His perfect will for our lives, what the Creator requires of His creatures: to love Him and our neighbor in thought, word, and deed.  It is here that God tells us why we need a Savior: because we are guilty and corrupt sinners (Romans 3:21-26).  After all, as Jesus said, “those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick;” Christ came “not to call the righteous, but sinners” (Matthew 9:12-13).

 

Confession of Sin

Like King David in Psalms 32 and 51, the knowledge of our sins drives us to confess our sins to whom we have sinned against: the Lord.  Here, we confess that, apart from a Savior, we are guilty sinners, fully deserving of everlasting punishment (Romans 6:23).  And moreover, like the doomed citizens of Ninevah, we appeal to God’s mercy during this confession, trusting that God will show steadfast love and pity upon those who ask it of Him (Jonah 3:10; Psalm 103:8; 145:8).

 

Reading of the Gospel

As God had first announced His Law, He now announces His Gospel, declaring the good news that what the Law demands, Jesus Christ provides (Romans 3:21-26; Titus 3:4-7; 1 John 4:9-10).  Whereas the Law declares what we are to do as an imperative, the Gospel declares what has been done as an indicative. 

 

Declaration of Pardon

In this element of the worship service, God applies what He had just announced in His Gospel, declaring sinners to be simultaneously saints.  God Himself declares that all who heard and believed the word of the Gospel with true faith are pardoned of all their sins; they are welcomed into the kingdom of God (Matthew 16:19; 18:18-20).  In this declarative act, God calls those dead in trespasses and sins to everlasting life, bringing about a new creation through His creative word (Ezekiel 37:1-14; Galatians 3:2; Romans 4:17; 2 Corinthians 4:6). 

 

Song of Thanksgiving

Having received the announcement of our forgiveness, such good news of great joy, we then respond to the Lord with thanksgiving for His sweet salvation.  This theme marks many of the psalms (Psalm 22; 46; 96; 98; cf. Romans 7:24-25).

 

Confession of Faith: The Apostles’ Creed

As those who are saved by faith (Ephesians 2:8-9), we as the church are also bound together by our faith, by the things that we believe (Ephesians 4:1-6).  And God has called us to express what we believe as His church, to not only believe with the heart privately, but to confess with the mouth publicly (Romans 10:9).  In the morning service, we confess the Apostles’ Creed, which unites us together with every Christian throughout the world and throughout time.

 

Pastoral Prayer

Throughout the New Testament, the church is commanded to pray (Matthew 6:5-15; 1 Thessalonians 5:17; 1 Timothy 2:1-4).  In fact, the early saints prayed whenever they gathered together (Acts 2:42; 12:12).  At the URC of Sunnyside, we believe in the importance of prayer.  According to our Heidelberg Catechism, it is “the chief part of our thankfulness that we owe to God” (Q/A 116).  During this part of the worship service, the Minister lifts up the needs of the entire church to God.

 

Offering

Like the prayers and the songs, this part of the liturgy is another opportunity to express our thanksgiving to God for all that He has done as our Creator and Redeemer.  Only here, our thanksgiving is in the form of money.  We believe that God is glorified through our offerings, for it is through our offerings that we are able to love our neighbor, to “contribute to the needs of the saints” (Romans 12:13).  Monetary sacrifices are a means for God to exercise His fatherly care over His people.  However, God not only cares that we give, but how we give (2 Corinthians 8 and 9): we are to give lovingly and cheerfully, “knowing the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for our sake He became poor” (2 Corinthians 8:9). 

 

Song of Preparation

In this element of the worship service, we prepare our hearts to hear the reading and preaching of God’s Word, which is the very hub of the worship service.  And we do so through singing, which again, is simply a form of prayer.  This song is usually thematically consistent with the word that is going to be read and preached, thereby helping the congregation ready their minds and hearts for the word.

 

Reading of God’s Word

Timothy commands the church to be devoted to “the public reading of Scripture” (1 Timothy 4:13).  In this part of our service, the word is publicly read, making the congregation aware of what is about to be publicly preached.

 

Prayer for Illumination

Just prior to the sermon, we take a moment and ask for the Holy Spirit to open our sometimes deaf ears and hardened hearts (Psalm 119:18), to “illumine” or “enlighten” us, that we might rightly understand and receive the preaching of the Word.  To be sure, unless the Spirit accompanies the Word that is proclaimed, it will be the mere words of man.  It is the Holy Spirit alone who brings “wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of God” (Ephesians 1:17), who “guides us into all truth” (John 16:13; cf. 1 Corinthians 2:10-13). 

 

Preaching of God’s Word

The Apostle Paul says that “faith comes by hearing, and hearing through the Word of Christ” (Romans 10:17), and that we receive the Spirit of God through “hearing with faith” (Galatians 3:2).  The preaching of the Word of God is at the heart of our worship service, for it is in this sacred event that the doors of the kingdom of God are open and closed.  Preaching is not simply “teaching,” although it is certainly this.  In the public proclamation of the “living and active” Word (Hebrews 4:12), a Word that always “accomplishes that for which it is sent” (Isaiah 55:11), the dead are raised to life, the lost are found, the blind are given sight.  In the preaching event, as “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27) is proclaimed from Genesis to Revelation, God builds His kingdom, constructing a new heavenly society in and around His Word.

 

Prayer of Application

After the sermon is complete, we again express our reliance upon the work of the Holy Spirit, requesting that He would graciously apply the glorious truths of the Word of God to our hearts and lives.  It is the Spirit alone who “gives life” (2 Corinthians 3:6), who applies the accomplished work of Jesus Christ to our souls (John 16:14).

 

Song of Response

Lifting our voices once again in song, we respond to the proclaimed news of Jesus Christ with songs of praise and exaltation for the wondrous deliverance we have received.  Like the Song of Thanksgiving earlier, this has good pedigree all over the psalms.

 

Benediction

God speaks the last word in His worship service, just as He spoke the first.  “Benediction” comes from the Latin “benedictio,” which means “good speaking.”  The Benediction is God’s “good word” for His beloved people, His fond farewell to His treasured saints.  As the service closes and we go out into the world once again, God assures us of His steadfast love and faithfulness in Christ, announcing His continued grace in our lives, in body and soul, in life and death.  After all, this was God’s final word to the churches in Scripture (2 Corinthians 13:14; Ephesians 6:23-24; Philippians 4:23; 1 Thessalonians 5:28; 1 Peter 5:14; cf. Numbers 6:24-26; many others).