We believe worship can be distilled into three categories: Content, Construct and Context.
Content of Worship
The Content of Worship is the story of God – the Gospel which culminates in the Person and Work of Jesus. This differentiates Christian worship from other religions. We worship God the Father, through the Son, in the power of the Holy Spirit. Did you notice, the only way we can approach the Father is through the Son, empowered by the Spirit. Jesus said, I am the way, the Truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me (John 14:6). The writer of Hebrews puts it this way: we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh…(Hebrews 10:19-21). The Content of our worship is the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Construct of Worship
The Construct of Worship is based on the sacred assembly of God’s people, found throughout the Scriptures (Exodus 24, Nehemiah 8, Acts 2, Luke 24). In each Biblical example, God gathers His people. They hear the Word of the Covenant, which expresses God’s expectations for living within the covenant. A sacred sign, usually a sacrifice or meal, is shared which ratifies or re-ratifies the covenant. Then, God’s people are sent forth to live the renewed covenant. This four-fold pattern of Gathering, Word, Table (Sign) and Sending Forth is the Scriptural and covenantal structure of Christian worship.
Context of Worship
The Context of Worship, or the style, is based on the “heart language” of the church family. God desires steadfast love and not sacrifice. In other words, God desires worship that is from the heart, rather than going through the motions. That means that the style of worship should engage the hearts of the worshipers. At Anchor, we embrace our heritage of hymn singing, while making room for theologically sound expressions of newer music, as well. Whatever we do in worship should be a matter of the heart.
Covenant and Worship
Irenaeus of Lyon, the second-century church leader, said, Understanding [God’s Story] consists of showing why there are a number of covenants with mankind and in teaching what is the character of those covenants. Throughout the Scriptures, God extended covenants to humankind. Covenants create or recreate a family relationship. For example, marriage is a covenant. In the Garden of Eden, Adam’s relationship with God was severed because of sin. God graciously offered restoration through a covenant. A pattern emerges as the story continues. God creates. Man falls. God offers a covenant. Man is recreated and restored. God offers covenants to Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, and finally, the New and everlasting Covenant is offered in the Incarnation of Jesus. Now, what was lost in the Garden of Eden can be restored to us. We can become sons of God in the Son of God.
Covenants have two components – Word (the expectations of the covenant), and the Sign (that ratifies or re-ratifies the covenant). At specific times, in both the Old and New Testaments, God called His people to renew the covenant. He gathered the people, they heard the Word, shared the Sign, and went forth to live the renewed covenant. At Anchor, we believe that this covenant relationship defines our worship. God gathers us together. We hear again the Word of the Covenant. We, very often, share the Sign of the Covenant (the Table of the Lord), and we go forth to live the renewed covenant. At the heart of our worship are the covenant components of Word and Sign. This covenant relationship is offered to us by God the Father, through Jesus, the Son, in the power of the Holy Spirit. We return our worship to the Father, through the same Son empowered by the same Spirit. This dialogue with the divine is covenant renewal and is the heart of Christian worship!