What to Expect:
"Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker; for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care (Ps. 95: 6-7)." Every Sunday we gather together as a body of believers to worship our Creator, the God of the heavens and earth and all that is in them. Worship is a time to revere what God has done and is still doing, it is an act demonstrating our devotion to Him and desire to serve and follow Him. We also recognize that worship is not simply an event, but rather a lifestyle Christians are called to. "Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind (Rom. 12: 1-2)." Our time of corporate worship includes singing praises to God, prayer, communion, offerings, preaching, and often special features (such as special music, Scripture readings, or guest speakers/presentations). All of it is geared towards honoring God and bringing ourselves into a closer relationship and deeper understanding of Him, preparing us to go out and serve God by serving others. We invite you to come, "Glorify the Lord with me; let us exalt his name together (Ps. 34:3)."
As Jesus' ministry was coming to a close and He knew the time had come for Him to be sacrificed on the cross, He gathered His disciples together to celebrate one final Passover meal with them. By this time Passover was a long-standing Hebrew tradition going back fourteen hundred years to the time when God freed the Hebrew people from their slavery in Egypt. The whole Passover celebration was a reminder of God's power and faithfulness to His people, and so the week long memorial was of utmost importance to the Jews who would travel from all over Israel to the city of Jerusalem to participate in its remembrance. At Passover time a sacrifice was prepared in honor of what God had done for the people in the hopes of a renewed relationship with Him. During this final Passover meal between Jesus and His disciples, He "took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, 'This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.' In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, 'This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.' For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes (I Cor. 11: 23-26)." With this Jesus created what we call Communion, or the Lord's Supper, a time when we remember and honor the sacrifice He made on our behalf in order to forgive our sins and offer us a new relationship with God. In Acts 2:42 and 20:7 we see that the early church was committed to the "breaking of bread" and would gather together on the first day of each week to celebrate this communion together. For this reason we too, when gathered together on Sunday, take communion as an act of worship in remembrance of Jesus' sacrifice and to honor Him for His salvation given freely to us. Where baptism is the place salvation is given to us, communion is the place where we are reminded of our salvation and our choice to follow God. Visitors and guests are welcome to participate but not obligated to partake of the Lord's Supper as the emblems are passed.
When God first created the nation of Israel, He gave them, through Moses, a very elaborate, intricate system of tithes, offerings, and sacrifices to follow (cf. Ex., Lev. And Deut.). In some respects the purpose of this was very practical (the funds and sacrifices given supported the priests as well as the poor, widows, and orphans), and in some respects it was theological (reminding the people that God was their provider, who had given them everything they had, and that they should be willing to give back to God). Ultimately, though, God desires "steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings (Hos. 6:6)." In the New Testament era, Jesus' once for all sacrifice fulfilled the need that many of the Old Testament sacrifices were designed to meet; foremost, of course, being our need to be redeemed, atoned for, and brought back into relationship with God. Because of Jesus' sacrifice we no longer need to perform the sacrifices required of the Old Testament Israelites. However, the Church still has needs and meets needs in our community, and we, as believers, are still called to make sacrifices for God. For the Christian, this is really all-encompassing: "Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship (Rom. 12:1)." In reality, though we collect a monetary offering, we also recognize that we are called to give not only monetarily but out of every aspect of our lives (time, talents, love). Christians have been called to give freely, sacrificially, and radically because of the free, sacrificial, radical love God has given to us in Christ. We give because He first gave to us. As the offering plates are passed, do not feel obligated to give; rather, decide if you should give to the work SCoC is doing. "Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver (II Cor. 9:7)."
In Acts 2 we see the birth of the Christian Church. On the day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit fell on the disciples of Jesus, who immediately began telling anyone who would listen the story of their Savior. Peter, taking his stand with the others, explains what is going on to those who have gathered, giving the first Christian sermon in the process. His words so moved the crowd of onlookers that they immediately asked what they needed to do to be saved, and with Peter's guidance about 3000 people were added to the Church that day. The end of Acts 2 demonstrates how these new followers of Christ worshiped and fellowshipped with one another, beginning in Acts 2: 42 with "And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers." Teaching was an important element of the worship of the early church, which is modelled throughout the New Testament as Luke records sermons in Acts, Paul encourages teachers and acknowledges teaching as a spiritual gift, and James explains the spiritual significance and seriousness of teaching. In Ephesians 4 we read "And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ (Eph. 4:11-13)." Teachers, among the other leaders of the church, exist for the purpose of equipping the church to serve the world. This is the goal of our preaching; hearing the word of God taught exhorts, encourages, and propels us as the Church to carry out the mission of the Church.
At the conclusion of each worship service is a time of Invitation. The invitation is three-fold. First, to the new believer this is an opportunity to come forward and commit one's life to Christ; to become a Christian, and ultimately to be saved. "If you confess with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord,' and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved (Rom. 10:9)." You will be asked to confess your faith before the congregation, simply saying "I believe that Jesus is the Christ, the son of the living God, and I take Him as my Lord and Savior," and you will be baptized into Christ. As a newly baptized believer you also become, if you so choose, a member of our congregation. Second, to the person who is already a baptized believer we extend the opportunity to join with us in Christian fellowship and ministry as a member of the Seaman Church of Christ, to make SCoC your church home and family. All that is required to become a member is a profession of the confession "Jesus is the Christ, my Lord and Savior." Third, to anyone present in the worship service is the opportunity to come forward with either a prayer concern or a praise that you would like to share with the congregation. Our minister and elders would be happy to talk with you at any time if you have any questions or concerns or would like to know more.