Join our mailing list

The "Real" World of Worship - Revelation 1

A worship service plan with the theme: "to do worship about worship," based on Revelation 1.

Worship Service
Also in this Series

Full Membership

This series explores the importance of worshiping well, the privilege of leading God's people in worship, and the responsibility to carry out such tasks with excellence.

Theme of the Service

The theme of this service is to do worship about worship.

The worship services of both this week and next week will include the commissioning of those lay leaders who will shape much of the ministry of the congregation during the coming season. This week the worship/music staff will be commissioned. Next week the educational staff will be commissioned. By "staff" we do not mean those who are in official paid positions, but the entire team of volunteers who work together on many levels to carry out this part of the congregation's total ministry.

Since the focus this week is on the worship/music ministry, this worship service will focus on the importance of worshiping well, the privilege of leading God's people in worship, and the responsibility to carry out such tasks with excellence.


Prelude: "Partita on 'Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven' ", Hobby [organ]
or: "Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven", Dobrinski [handbells]

The Call to Worship

*The Opening Litany

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth.
Worship the Lord with gladness;
come into his presence with singing.

Know that the Lord is God.
It is he who made us and we are his;
We are his people,
and the sheep of his pasture.

Enter his courts with thanksgiving,
and his courts with praise.
Give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good;
his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations.

(Psalm 100, NRSV)

*Opening Hymn of Praise: "Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven" PH478, PsH475, RL144, RN53, TH76/77, TWC25/26

*Our Declaration of Trust and God's Greeting:

Congregation of Jesus Christ, in whom are you trusting?
Our help is in the name of the Lord who made heaven and earth.
Grace, mercy and peace to you in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

*Our Profession:

In our world, bent under the weight of sin,
Christ gathers a new community.
Satan and his evil forces
seek whom they may confuse and swallow;
but Jesus builds his church, his Spirit guides, and grace abounds.

The church is the fellowship of those who confess Jesus as Lord.
She is the bride of Christ, his chosen partner,
loved by Jesus and loving him:
delighting in his presence,
seeking him in prayer,
silent before the mystery of his love.

Our new life in Christ
is celebrated and nourished
in the fellowship of congregations
where God's name is praised,
his Word proclaimed,
his way taught;
where sins are confessed,
prayers and gifts are offered,
and sacraments are celebrated.

(Our World Belongs to God: A Contemporary Testimony, st.37,38,39, © 1987, CRC Publications, Grand Rapids MI, 1-800-333-8300. Used by permission.)

*Song of Response: "God Is Here" Abbot's Leigh: PH461, RN5; St. John's Quadra: PsH 516; Beecher: TWC701

The Children's Moment


The Call to Confession

Our Prayer of Confession

The Assurance of God's Pardon - Isaiah 1:18

Song of Gratitude: "My God, How Wonderful You Are" St. Etheldreda: PsH499, TH35; Pye: TWC65

God's Guide for Grateful Living

(See Liturgy Notes #4 for explanation.)
Matthew 22:37,38
Exodus 20:1-11
Matthew 22:39
Exodus 20:12-17


*Song of Preparation: "Holy God, We Praise Your Name" PH460, PsH 504, RL619, TH103, TWC3

The Prayer for Illumination

The Old Testament Reading: Psalm 96

The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God!

The New Testament Reading: Revelation 1:9-20

The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God!

Sermon: The "Real" World of Worship
(Full Membership - #1)

The Prayer of Application

Anthem: "The Never Ending Song of Praise", Harris


An Introduction of the Worship/Music Staff

The Charge from the Congregation:

We are the people of God who are called to worship him.
We must worship with young and old together; draw us all in.
We must sing our song to the Lord; lead us.
We must lift our hearts in prayer; provide words for us.
We must hear the Word of the Lord; proclaim it to us.
We must raise our thanks to God; help us to do so.
We must become hospitable to the stranger among us; make us open.
Teach us, in all of these, that all glory be given to Him!

The Commissioning of the Worship/Music Staff:

We challenge you as our worship/music staff that, with God's help, you use your gifts to lead us in the holy service of worship to God.

Begin your ministry with the conviction that "great is the Lord and most worthy of praise" (Psalm 48:1) and "how good it is to sing praises to our God, how pleasant and fitting to praise him!" (Psalm 147:1).

Remember that Christ calls us to worship him "in spirit and in truth" (John 4:24) and that God calls us to never "give up meeting together" (Hebrews 10:25).

Guard your leadership efforts with the conviction that "To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever." (Revelation 5:13)

Care for your own spirits and hearts well so that your song comes from a heart that is walking closely with the Lord.

Stir our hearts, knowing that our worship is preparation for joining the heavenly chorus.

Will you now take up your tasks with such a commitment before God?

Response: Yes, we will, God helping us!

The Prayers of the People

Offertory: "When in Our Music God Is Glorified", Hobby

*Song: "When in Our Music God Is Glorified" Engelberg: PH264, PsH 512, RL508, RN62, TWC403, WOV802; Celebration '85: TWC402

Anthem: "Sing a New Song", Wagner


*A Psalm Reading:

Praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord! Let everything that breathes praise the Lord!
Let the people praise Him!
Let all the people praise Him!
It is He who made us and we are His. We are His people, the sheep of his pasture.
Praise the Lord! Let everything that breathes praise the Lord!
(from Psalm 150, 67, 100)

"The Benediction with Congregational Amen!

*Song: "Praise Him! Jesus, Blessed Savior" SNC48

*A Moment of Meditation

Postlude: "Praise the Lord with the Drum and Cymbal", Karg-Elert

* you are invited to stand

Sermon Notes:

This sermon is intended to begin a four-part series of messages under the title "Full Membership". We have found it helpful to begin the fall season by reviewing in some way what membership in the Christian church involves. This first sermon in the series considers our worship. Other sermon topics include study/education, growth in spiritual maturity, and teamwork in Christian service.

Though the Scripture passage that is read prior to the sermon is from Revelation 1, it would be helpful to make clear that Psalm 96 is the Old Testament call to worship, and Revelation chapters 2-7 will be consulted to explain the teachings of chapter 1. Chapters 2-3 contain the letters to the seven churches which help us "listen in" when Christ speaks to his churches about their lives before him. Chapters 4 and following pull back the curtain of heaven so we are able to observe what happens there in the worship of God.

It will be helpful to give the background of chapter one. Christians are living in precarious times during the reign of Domitian and oppression is intensifying. John is exiled on the island of Patmos when Christ speaks to him. Note that the book of Revelation begins not with an explanation of world events, or instructions to Christians on how to endure suffering, but with worship!

I formulated the title of this sermon by deliberately playing with a common statement that the "real world" is outside church. We have heard or made the comment, "that was a nice sermon/service, now we have to go back to the 'real' world"! The message of Revelation is that the "real" world is the world of worship where God is the center of all. THAT world influences THIS world, not the other way around! Through worship, the Word and sacraments we receive our identity as followers of Christ and are equipped for ministry in our daily lives.

A study of the opening chapters of Revelation indicates that there are three parties involved in worship - the triune God who is the center of all things, the angels represented by the four living creatures, and the church of all ages represented by the twenty four elders.

Further study will show four reasons and motivations for worship. In 4:8 we observe that the holiness of God stirs worship. In 4:11 we learn to worship God because he has created all things. In 5:9,10 we learn that Christ is worthy to be worshiped because he is the Lamb slain to redeem us. In 7:14-17 we come to understand that the throb of hope within our hearts-that God is going to make all things new-leads us to worship him.

Music Notes:

Glossary of Hymnal Abbreviations:

PH The Presbyterian Hymnal (Presbyterian Church USA; Westminster/John Knox Press)
PsH The Psalter Hymnal (Christian Reformed Church; Faith Alive Christian Resources)
RL Rejoice in the Lord (Reformed Church in America; W.B. Eerdmans Publishing Company)
RN Renew! (Hope Publishing Company)
SFL Songs for LiFE (children's songbook; Faith Alive Christian Resources)
SNC Sing! A New Creation (Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, Christian Reformed Church, Reformed Church in America; Faith Alive Christian Resources)
TH Trinity Hymnal (Orthodox Presbyterian Church, Presbyterian Church in America; Great Commission Publications)
TWC The Worshiping Church (Hope Publishing Company)
WOV With One Voice (Augsburg Fortress)

Music Level Key: E = Easy, M = Medium, D = Difficult

  1. The organ prelude by Robert A. Hobby is published by Concordia 97-6082 [1991] (E-M). This piece can be divided so that you could play different sections for prelude, offertory and postlude. Some congregations are accustomed to brief preludes; others consistently have 8-10+ minutes of prelude music. The bell prelude for three-five octaves is arranged by Cynthia Dobrinski and published by Agape 1974 [1998] (M).
  1. John Ferguson has arranged "Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven" in a concertato format for congregation, brass, and choir. You may wish to consider using part or all of it as accompaniment, or providing alternative accompaniment from the hymnal setting. The concertato is published by GIA G-3073.
  1. "The Never-Ending Song of Praise" by Ed Harris is based on passages from Revelation that are used in the sermon. This SATB anthem is published by Hinshaw HMC-913 [1987] (E-M).
  1. The organ offertory music by Robert A Hobby can be found in "Three Hymns of Praise set 2" published by Morningstar MSM-10-757 [1994] (M).
  1. We encourage using your choir or music ministry team on alternating stanzas or selected stanzas in addition to your congregation's singing of "When in Your Music God Is Glorified". A hymn anthem on Engelberg arranged by Russell Schulz-Widmar is published by GIA (G-5518).
  1. "Sing a New Song" is a unison/two part anthem by Douglas Wagner that is easily learned in one rehearsal and that can be sung by combined youth and adult choirs - a good way to begin a new season of making music together in worship to the glory of God. It is published by Sacred Music Press SMP 6-342 [1984] (E).
  1. Be sure to check out the gospel-style accompaniment for "Praise Him! Jesus, Blessed Savior" in the Leader's Edition of Sing! A New Creation, available from Faith Alive Christian Resources (, 1-800-333-8300 or 616-224-0728).
  1. The postlude music for organ can be found in "Karg-Elert Album for Organ" published by Marks M 152 [1944] (M).

Liturgy Notes:

1. You will notice this service includes multiple readings. Some are in unison; some are intended to be done responsively between the congregation and a worship leader. These readings not only focus on worship but draw each worshiper into active participation.

2. Our World Belongs to God: A Contemporary Testimony is a contemporary formulation of faith and commitment that was adopted by the Christian Reformed Church in 1986 for use in its worship (PsH pp. 1030-1031). For copyright permission, please contact CRC Publications at (616) 224-0819, 1-800-333-8300 or

3. The Children's Moment will serve the children well if it includes instruction of the importance of public worship. Children always have many questions about worship and why it is done the way it is. Spend a few moments to explain that worship is a meeting with God in which a conversation between God and his people takes place. Use some examples from the worship order to illustrate this.

4. The four readings of "God's Guide for Grateful Living" provide a method of relating the Ten Commandments with Christ's summary of the law. The first four commandments explain how to love God with our whole heart. The next six commandments explain how to love our neighbor as ourselves.

When we've done it this way we've introduced the first reading as the words of Christ in summarizing what God expects of us. We follow with an explanation that God told the Israelites long before what that involves, and here are the commandments he gave them. Then the summary of the second table of the law is introduced as the words of Christ, with the transition simply '"Here is what God told the Israelites that involves..." and proceeding with the remainder of the Ten Commandments.

5. For the commissioning of the worship/music staff we have included everyone who anticipates being involved in worship leadership in the coming season. This includes the worship committee, worship planning teams, directors, accompanists, adult choir members, youth choir members, handbell choir members, and instrumentalists. It is important to be as inclusive as possible so none are overlooked. During the service of commissioning we usually ask them to stand to receive their commissioning and to express their commitment. They remain standing from the time of their introduction until they have expressed their commitment. We have found it helpful to print the list of all such groups with the worship sheet.

6. The Prayers of the People may involve the usual congregational concerns, but should also address the intercessory needs of those who have just received their commissioning as worship and music leaders. All the groups mentioned above should be lifted up before the Lord so we can thank him for their gifts and ask for his blessing on their roles of leadership.