What is a Divine Service?
For New Apostolic Christians, divine services have a special meaning. As an integral part of our Christian life, each service offers an opportunity for fellowship with God and with our brothers and sisters in faith. Those attending a divine service find the peace and quiet that are necessary to listen to the word of God. This is where they receive divine peace, obtain mercy and the forgiveness of sins, and experience the love of God.
A divine Service in the New Apostolic Church always begins with a prayer. The church ministers subsequently called on to serve at the altar do not rely on a prepared sermon: there is no manuscript, and nothing is read out to the congregation. As preparation for all divine services, there is only a brief letter, the "Divine Service Guide" published by the church administration, which contains the text to be read from the Holy Scriptures accompanied by some additional thoughts - the church ministers commissioned to conduct a divine service put their trust in the power of the Holy Spirit to provide the words that will be spoken.
In the Bible we read that the Lord Jesus said to his disciples, "Take no thought what you shall say: For the Holy Spirit shall teach you in the same hour what you ought to say." The priests of the New Apostolic Church still rely on this age-old word today.
Divine Services are a Dialogue:
A divine service conveys new spiritual strength, brings joy and describes the future of the Children of God: eternal salvation, eternal redemption, comfort and safety with God. Divine services are a dialogue; God, the Father, speaks to us, and we speak to Him. This intimate fellowship offers comfort and hope, particularly for those days that do not work out the way we imagine they should.
At the same time, listening to the words spoken from the altar, we come into a recognition of ourselves and the things we do and our need for salvation. When we become conscious of this need, we can then celebrate Holy Communion in faith. (For more information on our Sacraments, click here.)
Divine Services are an Offer of Grace:
Service may also be understood as an offer of grace. New Apostolic Christians celebrate Holy Communion in every divine service. They confess their sins to God and are thus able to receive forgiveness in the name of Jesus Christ. They forgive their neighbours too, and open their understanding to the divine benefits and blessings.
Text used with friendly permission of NACI.
A brief description of the divine service
- Find a seat where you feel most comfortable
- Enjoy the musical selections of our choir usually beginning 15 minutes before the service.
- The service will commence when the organ begins playing following a short period of silence. We all stand and sing the first hymn posted on the song board.
- At the conclusion of the opening hymn, the minister prays to our heavenly Father, concluding with "Amen". The minister will then read a passage from the Bible, after which all can be seated. The choir sings a hymn and the sermon commences.
- One or more ministers may serve to the congregation. Between the serving of the ministers, the congregation is invited to sing a second hymn posted on the song board, or, the minister may ask the choir to sing.
- The minister prepares the congregation for the celebration of Holy Communion.
- A Hymn of Repentance is sung by the seated congregation or by the choir.
- The minister invites the congregation to pray the Lord's Prayer, with words similar to: "We want to stand up and pray the prayer which the Lord Jesus has taught us." The minister pronounces the Absolution over the congregation, followed by a prayer of praise and thanksgiving.
- The minister invites the congregation to celebrate Holy Communion with the words: "And now we shall celebrate Holy Communion". An assisting minister uncovers the chalices. The minister announces "The Lord's table is prepared" and consecrates the sacrament. The congregation is invited to celebrate Holy Communion during which a hymn will be sung. Visitors are not required to participate in the celebration of Holy Communion, but those wishing to share in the celebration should follow the lead of our members or you can ask one of the ushers for help.
- After Holy Communion is finished, the congregation remains seated and the assisting minister covers the chalices, in silence. The minister then invites the congregation to stand and prays the closing prayer.
- The service ends with the singing of the three-fold Amen. This is the official end of the service, followed by the choir singing a closing hymn of praise.