Covenant Renewal Worship

The pattern of our liturgy follows the basic Biblical structure of sacrificial worship.  This pattern is found in both old and new covenant Scriptures, but perhaps the easiest place to see this shape is in Leviticus 9, the first time corporate worship was offered at the newly constructed tabernacle.  We are fully warranted in using this pattern in the new covenant.  While Jesus abolished animal sacrifice, he did not revoke the way of sacrifice (e.g., Rom 12:1-2, Heb 13:15, etc.).  New covenant worship is still described in sacrificial categories, and the church is described as the true temple.  In Christ, our worship service represents the fulfillment and transformation of old covenant liturgical types and shadows.  Our worship service is as follows:

The Lord Calls Us to Worship

(Lev 9:5) Our worship is a response to God's summons.  He always takes the initiative.  We draw near only because He first invites us.

The Lord Cleanses Us

The sin offering (Lev 9:15) highlights the confession of sin and absolution.  Without an initial confession of sin, we are worshipping God with unclean hands and lips.  But having been washed, we may enter God's presence.

The Lord Consecrates Us

The ascension offering (Lev 9:16) corresponds to our entrance into God's heavenly sanctuary (cf. Heb 10:19 ff) and consecration.  This ascent is marked by the sursum corda ("Lift your hearts up to the Lord").  The ascension offering consists in a burst of sung praise, since we have received cleansing and access to God's throne room.  We enter God's courts with thanksgiving and joy.  This offering also includes the reading and preaching of the Word, as we are consecrated to God's service by His truth (John 17:17; Heb 4:12).  It also includes prayer, as we offer ourselves in a ministry of intercession in union with the ascended Christ.

The Lord Collects Our Gifts

The tribute offering (Lev 9:17) follows the ascension offering and is represented by the collection of tithes and offerings.  We offer ourselves in the ascension offering; we offer our works in the tribute offering.  The tribute offering consisted of bread (symbolizing man's labors, transforming the creation), and never stood alone in the Levitical system.  It always followed the sin and ascension offerings, and was placed on top of them on the altar.  This is because our works are not acceptable to God apart from the blood sacrifice of Christ.  But in Christ, God accepts us and our labors.

The Lord Communes With Us

The peace offering (Lev 9:18-21) is the climax of the liturgy.  This offering is the communion meal we eat in God's presence.  All old covenant feasts and festivals were variations of the peace offering.  The Lord's Supper, of course, is our peace offering in the new covenant, as God shares His table with us.

The Lord Commissions Us

Finally, we are commissioned as we are sent out with God's benediction (Lev 9:22-23).  At the tabernacle, Aaron raised his hands and blessed the people as he dismissed them (Num 6:22-27).  We are sent out to serve God in the world, carrying His blessing as we go.