Worship is the highest task of the church. Our predecessors in the faith understood this. They led a great Reformation in the sixteenth century not only to correct church abuses and recover gospel doctrines, but also to restore true worship.
In the twenty-first century the church has become divided over the principles and priorities of worship. The labels used in the sadly-named “worship wars” — labels like traditional versus contemporary, liturgical versus free — can be misleading and unhelpful. We prefer to describe the worship of Sandy Springs Presbyterian Church as simple, substantial, and scriptural.
Our worship is simple because it is not adorned with religious sights, smells, and sounds, nor structured around holy days and seasons beyond the weekly Lord’s Day. The complicated rituals and calendars of the Old Testament have been fulfilled in Jesus Christ, whose priestly ministry they foreshadowed. Now, through Jesus, we have clear, simple, spiritual access to God.
God commands that everything in the church should be done “decently and in order.” Therefore our worship follows a regular, simple sequence of hymns, prayers, preaching, and scripture reading. Worship services are led by the pastor, who represents Jesus Christ as his minister.
Our worship is substantial because it serves God’s glory and answers mankind’s deepest need. That need is for fellowship with God himself, our Maker and Redeemer. Adam and Eve once enjoyed it, but lost it when they chose rebellion over innocence. Now, God has graciously re-established fellowship in the form of a covenant with his people. Once again, human beings may “glorify God, and enjoy him for ever.”
This fellowship will be perfected in eternity. But the church already enjoys it in Sunday worship, which is really a covenant conversation with the living God. He speaks to us as his word is read, preached, or depicted in sacramental form. We respond to him through singing, praying, and giving. This conversation is reverent, grateful, joyful, and substantial, and it will engage both the mind and heart of the perceptive Christian.
Our worship is scriptural in two different ways. First, its activities are regulated by scripture, not tradition or personal preference or evangelistic effectiveness. Scripture forbids man-made elements in worship; instead, it teaches us how properly to approach God, honor him, and enjoy him. God desires worship in Spirit and truth, expressed in the biblical activities of prayer, singing, giving, scripture reading, preaching, and the sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s Supper.
Second, the content of our worship is filled with scripture. The Old and New Testaments are not only read, but explained and applied in the sermon with scholarly care and pastoral passion. (About half of our worship service is spent in preaching.) Our songs and prayers are filled with the language and ideas of scripture. Each worship service begins with a summons from scripture, and ends with a blessing from scripture. Even the sacraments are signs and seals of scriptural promises!
You can learn more about what to expect in a worship service at Sandy Springs Presbyterian Church from this website. But the best way to understand our worship is to visit us and join in the worship of God with us this Sunday.