And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
In most worship services, the first thing you do is sing a hymn.
This is an important aspect of the worship service and the first hymn is especially vital as it should draw us into worship.
I wrote about music and hymnody as part of a worship service in a previous devotion and you can read that here.
The next part of a liturgical or traditional worship service is the Invocation.
The word “invocation” means the calling upon a deity, spirit, etc., for aid, protection, inspiration, or the like. It can also mean any petitioning or supplication for help or aid. And it can further mean a form of prayer invoking God’s presence, especially one said at the beginning of a religious service or public ceremony.
In my particular tribe of Christianity (Lutheran – thank you Leonard Sweet for helping me see Christianity as made up of tribes!) the Invocation is made up of these words:
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
And there is usually the making of the sign of the cross as the words “the Son” are said.
A worship service that has as its goal to worship the Triune God begins in the “invoking” of the Triune God’s name.
It is not coincidence that these words are also the same words combined with water that is poured over a person when they are baptized.
Baptism is the beginning of a Christian and the baptismal words are the beginning of the Christian worship service.
But why these words? Why does a worship service begin with the name of God?
It’s simple, really. When you call someone on the phone, you usually use the name of the person you call at the beginning of the conversation. When you write a person a letter (boy, does that date me – who actually writes letters these days?) you begin by writing “Dear name of the person…”
In worship, we are coming into the presence of God and asking God to be present with us – so it is only natural that we begin with His name!
But there’s more to it than just addressing God by His name.
God is actually His name. The name of God is actually who God is.
God the Father is the Father, or Creator, of us all.
God the Son is the Son of God. He is also known by the name of Jesus – which means “Yahweh (or the LORD) saves” – because that is what He does! Jesus saves us from our sins, death itself, and the devil through His own birth, life, death, resurrection and ascension.
God the Holy Spirit is the very Spirit of God. He has no bodily form (except as a dove or a tongue of fire at two points in history). As Spirit He is able to actually live inside of us and bring us the gifts of God – chief of which is the forgiveness of sins through Word and Sacrament!
So, when we begin a worship service with the Invocation we are asking God to be with us. We are remembering that we are baptized (more on Baptism in the next devotion). We are making a public statement about the God that we have gathered together to worship.
The worship service begins and ends with God. It begins with His name and He gets the last word (more on that in the devotion on the Benediction).