Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Why We Worship the Way we Do: Part Five

Following the Invitation to Discipleship, or the opportunity to receive Christ as Lord and Savior, we transition from the Service of the Word to the Service of the Table. This portion of the service occurs in two parts. It is a response back and forth with God. This week’s focus is the first part, or The Invitation to Stewardship. We bring God our gifts and God blesses them and returns them to us for the edification of the Church. The ancient Church brought not only their tithes and offerings, but bread, wine and oil. These gifts of bread and wine were blessed for Holy Communion and the oil blessed for anointing of the sick by the Elders.

With regard to the tithes and offerings, the Church believes that the tithe is the Lord’s. More than an Old Testament command, our Lord affirmed the tithe and the writer of Hebrews underscored its importance. The tithe is a spiritual principle of first fruits.

While all that we have belongs to God, this act is an expression of faith. Giving the first tenth of our substance is an act of faith declaring that God is first in all parts of our life. He releases the tithe into the church in order to release His ministry into the world. Through the tithe we also express our confidence that He will bless and sustain us through what remains.

When the offerings have been received, we join in the procession of the Tithes singing the Doxology or its official title, Old Hundreth, in that is a paraphrase of Psalm 100. It is one of the oldest hymns in the Protestant Church dating before the Reformation, although it has a counterpart in the Roman Church that is similar, entitled the Gloria in Excelsis.

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