It’s certainly not the longest and maybe seldom the most memorable part, but giving and receiving God’s greeting has got to be one of the best parts of a worship service, imho. It’s near the beginning. People stand. I raise my arms. “Grace and peace to you…” I say.
These are not my words. And these are not words from Trinity CRC’s leadership or from church history. These are Biblical words from God Himself. As a pastor, there’s a simultaneously awesome and humbling thought right there! Think about it: Using my voice, God is welcoming you, expressing His pleasure that people have responded to His call to corporate (that is, group) worship.
The Worship Sourcebook says that these words of greeting “establish the lines of communication in worship. God always comes to us before we come to God. So it is fitting for worship to begin with Scriptural words that convey God’s greeting to us” (p. 56).
As we gather for worship, one of the first things that’s affirmed is that God has graciously brought us together, and that He is mysteriously yet wondrously present whether we come in joy or sorrow, praise or doubt. I certainly cannot think of a better way for the worship experience to begin each Sunday morning!
My colleague, Leon Johnston, has also been reflecting on
God’s greeting at the start of the worship service.