GUIDE FOR VISITORS
When you visit with us, you will be joining us in the most important of all human activities: the worship of the living God. What a great privilege and joy it is to worship the true and living God! Drawing upon the rich traditions of the historic Christian Church, worship at Princeton Presbyterian is marked by reverence and joy, majesty and intimacy, in the presence of our holy, glorious, gracious God!
It is our sincere hope and prayer that you will find your worship experience to be encouraging, challenging, and invigorating, renewing you in the knowledge of God and the wonderful hope that we have through the Gospel of Christ. Most of all, we hope that God will be glorified by the worship we render to him.
Worship at Princeton is…
God-Centered. All too often worship is man-centered; that is, it is overly preoccupied with our needs, our feelings, our preferences. But since the primary purpose of worship is to give glory and honor to God, the most important thing that we could say about our worship is that it is God-centered. There is a time and a place to focus on people, to celebrate them and their accomplishments. But in Christian worship, the glory of the Triune God and the greatness of his redemptive work on behalf of sinners must be central.
Dialogical. Worship is a loving conversation between God and his people. As we move throughout the service, you will find it helpful to think of our alternating between God’s speaking to us and our speaking to God.
Covenantal. God initiated a relationship with His Church by making a “covenant” with her. A covenant is a promise, or commitment to love and be faithful to someone – like in a marriage. In worship, God reaffirms His lordship and love and calls upon us to renew our allegiance and devotion to Him. For this reason, worship on the Lord’s Day is often referred to as “covenant renewal.” It is, quite literally, a meeting with God in which we are refreshed and revitalized in His love.
Objective. A common mistake is to evaluate worship purely in terms of our subjective impressions and feelings. Thus, for many people, worship is good only insofar as it makes them feel good. While not wishing to discount the importance of our subjective response—it is our hope that we will be subjectively engaged in worship—we would suggest that worship is first and foremost an activity, not a feeling. “What are we doing?” is thus a more important question than “How do we feel?”
Reverent. Worship that is very informal and “loose,” while certainly making people feel at ease, has the distinct disadvantage of encouraging a light, even irreverent, view of God. The Holy One of Israel, the Sovereign God is not our buddy. He is the eternal, and infinitely majestic Creator of heaven and earth. We are to rejoice with trembling in His presence. We believe that such a view of God is best encouraged by a service characterized by reverence and solemn joy. While we thus run the risk of not being “upbeat” enough for some people’s tastes, we believe that we are, week in and week out, promoting a view of God which is consistent with the magnificence of His character revealed in Scripture.
Participatory. Worship is not entertainment. It is not a spectator sport. Rather, it is an activity in which God’s people actively participate together for the glory of God. God, not the congregation, is the audience in the “drama” of the worship of God.
Reformed. While our ultimate authority in worship is the Word of God, we gladly stand in the tradition of the historic Christian Church and the Protestant Reformation. This connection with the past affirms our appreciation for the rich history of Christian worship. We stand on the shoulders of our fathers in the faith.
The Elements of Our Worship
The Singing of Praise. One of the great privileges we have is to sing the praises of Him who called us out of darkness into His wonderful light. We believe in singing the rich Psalms of Scripture and the great hymns of the historic Christian Church. At Princeton, the entire congregation participates in the singing. To put it another way, the whole congregation is “the choir.”
Prayer. We believe in the value of both corporate prayers (prayed in unison) and extemporaneous prayers. With corporate prayers, we are able to join our voices together with wording that is well thought through and rich in biblical content. With extemporaneous prayer (in which one person leads), there is opportunity for greater freedom and responding to the immediate prayer needs of God’s people.
The Collection. As a response to the Lord’s mercy to us, and as a means of supporting and participating in the work of the Kingdom, we gladly give a portion of the financial resources with which God has blessed us. We generously give back to the Lord what He has entrusted to us because He has so freely given to us all things.
The Ministry of the Word. Central to our worship is reading and preaching of the Word of God. Scripture is read at a number of places in the service; it permeates all that we do. Prior to the sermon, a portion of Scripture is read that is the basis for the sermon. The sermon itself seeks to be a faithful explanation and application of that portion of Scripture in light of all of God’s Word. Our pastor preaches through entire books of the Bible. In this way, we are exposed to the whole counsel of God in its beautiful balance.
The Lord’s Supper. In many respects, the Lord’s Supper is the high point of the service; it is where everything “comes together.” While this sacrament is at least a commemoration of the death and resurrection of Christ, it is also much more. It is a time of being spiritually nourished by the grace of Christ. It is also a time of solemn celebration, as we once again are confronted by and meditate upon the profound realities of the Gospel. We currently celebrate the Lord’s Supper at regular intervals throughout the year.