What you will find in a worship experience at Dove of Peace
Worship is an activity, not a performance. We’re all in it together, and everybody participates.
it’s praise (because God likes to be thanked) and
it’s prayer, (because God likes to be asked) and
it’s remembering, (because God likes the history of our relationship to be repeated) and
it’s learning (because God enjoys our growth)
Worship also connects us with each other: every person present becomes a meaningful part of the whole. Some people have longer histories, and learned all of the moves as children. Others are newbies. It seems complicated—like most important activities—but the more you do it, the more natural it becomes.
We have two styles of worship at DOP, and we do things differently at 8:45 and at 11. The early service uses a more formal approach, lots of organ music, a choir anthem, more action. The later service has more upbeat music, a song leader, and a more personal feel. But both services follow the same pattern, established by the ancient church, and modified through centuries, essentially based on the same five stages. At the outset, we come together and get ready. Some people use this time to focus; at DOP people talk to each other and catch up on their news.
Stage one: The opening words and singing bring us together and remind us of what we’re doing. The words are established from ancient times, because they refer to something like gathering in the court of a king. Think Lord of the Rings, or Game of Thrones. You don’t come into the presence of a king as though you were chilling on the couch in the family room. So in this stage we switch gears from ordinary life to a time we believe to be special.
Stage two: The next stage is readings from the Bible: we hear the words from our basic text, reminding us of our history as people of God. A section of text, a psalm, and a section of text, and then another section, this time from the part of the Bible specifically about the life of Jesus. After this comes the sermon, where we are asked to dig into the texts intellectually, to learn more about them, and how they comment on, and interact with the lives we’re living. After this, we sing a hymn that connects thematically with the sermon. (Even if you don’t sing them, read the words: they carry a lot of meaning, and also connect us with all the others who wrote them.)
Stage three: The next stage is prayer, where, as a group and as individuals, we bring our requests, our hopes, our problems and troubles, to God. When we have done this, we give our offerings, which are in a way a form of prayer put into reality. We’re serious about being here, and giving up this part of our assets is a sign of that seriousness.
Stage four: This is the part of worship that may seem most mysterious, because it is more symbolic and also more mystical than other parts. We call it a meal, or communion, or the eucharist. A lifetime is barely enough time to realize what it means. But as we go to the altar and receive the small bits of bread and wine, we are in profound relation to God and each other. We receive the assurance of God’s real presence in our lives, of God’s care and love for us, of the hope that we have because of this presence. The practice means something personal to each one, but we share some of its meaning. Not one of us has more “right” to this experience of God’s presence, care, and hope than a stranger or visitor. So we take real pleasure in including everyone here; we only extend the hospitality that we ourselves have received.
Stage five: Now we hear a final blessing, and we receive our commission. It’s like every Sunday is a graduation: go and use what you have learned and experienced here to make a difference. We’re not very good at this; we need to be reminded week after week that God loves the world, and that we are supposed to go out into our various worlds where every encounter should be shaped by that reality.