Antiphonal Worship: He Speaks and We Respond – Some Choruses, a Pep-talk, and an Offering, part 8 of 20

What if our Sunday morning worship consisted of Scripture? I don’t just mean expository preaching (there’s a few of us still doing that), but I mean the entire service; a worship service where God speaks (through His Word) and then we respond. In other words a service where we read, preach, sing, and pray Scripture. Why wouldn’t we do that? Don’t we want to hear from the Lord?

The presupposition is that the Scripture is God’s Word; that it is divinely inspired (2 Timothy 3:16), food for the soul (1 Peter 2:2), and light in the darkness (2 Peter 1:19). But it’s even more. It’s a devouring flame (Jeremiah 5:14), a crushing hammer (Jeremiah 23:29), and a probing instrument (Hebrews 4:12)—those are some powerful metaphors (actually, the hammer one is a simile :-)). It gives us hope (Romans 15:4), knowledge of eternal life (1 John 5:13), and is the means by which God calls us to saving faith (Romans 1:16). It is absolutely trustworthy (Luke 21:33), profitable for teaching (Isaiah 2:3), and to be ignorant of it puts us in great peril (Matthew 22:29).

We could keep going but hasn’t the point been made? God speaks; things happen. So let’s put it everywhere in our worship service! He speaks; and then we respond. He speaks with the call to worship, the reading and preaching of the Word, the words of institution for the sacraments, and the benediction. We respond by praying (confessing and petitioning), praising and thanking (via song), participating in the sacraments, and bringing tithes and offerings. We actually have a dialogue with God; a dialogue in which He leads and we respond—the entire worship service antiphonal.

A worship service saturated with the Word of God would be a worship service where He is honored and His people are fed. It sure wouldn’t be superficial, either.

But if you don’t buy the above presupposition regarding Scripture, go ahead with a service that keeps the masses happy. It’s not that hard; some choruses, a pep-talk, and an offering will do.

Pastor Rich Hamlin
December 2, 2010

1 comment

  1. Rich,

    Your reflection reminds me of the monks I just visited with at Westminster Abbey. If you want to sit in such a service, then go and participate in the prayers they offer 5 times a day. They sit across from one another and sing the Psalms back and forth. I think I’m correct in saying that they go through the entire 150 psalms every week. Of course, there are readings from other places in the Old and New Testament as well. It was kind of refreshing to hear all of the psalm sung, even the violent parts. Disturbing but in a comforting sort of way, if that makes any sense.


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