What does the service at Christ the Saviour Church Krakow look like?
The Word, written or spoken, has always been an integral part of Protestantism. In the evangelical service the Word of God is manifested in the reading and preaching of God's Word and in the sacraments of Baptism and the Lord's Supper. The Word is also found in the life of the Church in other forms - such as prayer and songs, but the whole liturgy is filled with love for perfect God's Word.
The liturgy of Christ the Saviour Church Krakow combines the tradition of the ancient Church with the liturgical elements, from the times of the Reformation.
To help you actively participate in our service, we encourage you to familiarise yourself with fixed elements of worship.
This is the time to praise God through singing and playing musical instruments. Some Protestant churches call this part of the service "worship". It is true that it is worship, but worship does not finish when the song ends. The whole service is worship, meaning each part of the service bears the marks of devotion and worship of God, not only the first part associated with music.
St. Augustine, before converting to Christianity, attended a Christian service to listen to Bishop Ambrose preaching, known for his excellent sermons. However, the thing that surprised Augustine the most, who himself was a lecturer in public speaking (rhetoric), was not the speech of Ambrose, but the music praising God. It helped the heart of Augustine to open up to God, because it gave him the feeling that Christianity is not merely another philosophical system, but a relationship between God and a man. He began to understand that Christianity is a relationship of love and worship to God, and that it engages the whole person, not just his intellect.
When Martin Luther, when discovered the truth of justification, he exclaimed: "Simul iustus et peccator" ("Righteous and sinner at the same time"), this means that in the eyes of God we are simultaneously justified and sinful. You could say that this is the Gospel in a nutshell: We are much more sinful than we can imagine and yet much more beloved, than we can ever imagine.
Confession of sins, which appears in our service, helps us realise these two truths deeper. Right at the beginning we realise that we can not come to God on the simple basis that we are wonderful. Even our greatest deeds are not enough for our Holy God to adopt us. If our good deeds could allow us to come to God, He wouldn't have had to send Jesus to die for our sins.
Confession is an important issue of spiritual hygiene, in the way of purification of the soul from sins. It consists of two parts: the confession and absolution. If the confession is to be genuine and sincere, a man must discover them. For this, we look back at our lives and evaluate them in our minds before God. God has promised that "if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness"
Our church is of the opinion that the enumeration of sins is not necessary and that we should not burden the conscience with the concern for enumerating all the sins, because it is not possible to name all the transgressions, as said by the prophet Jeremiah: "Perverse and unsearchable is the human heart". So, if only those sins which were specified were forgiven, the conscience could never rest in peace, because many sins can not be understood or remembered.
The public reading of God's Word does not replace our personal time with the Bible, however it helps us understand it. Very often we limit ourselves to some of our favorite passages and themes while reading the Bible. At the services, we can hear a variety of texts, often those that we would never choose for our personal time. We have the opportunity to hear how God speaks to us through His Word, not only the things that we want to hear but also what we need to hear.
Historically, the responsibility of reading the Bible was never a prerogative of the clergyman; these were people who read and even commented on the Word of God during the service. This happened, because the public habit of reading the Scriptures was drawn by Christians from the Jewish tradition, when during the Sabbath, in the synagogue adult males had the right to read and comment on selected passages of the Old Testament.
The piece which is read should be the basis for a subsequent sermon. Therefore, we read a broader text in all its context. It happens very often that the clergymen preach on the topic using the passages brought out of Scripture context to prove their uttered statements. Subconsciously, it teaches the people who come to church that this is the way of personal Bible reading – searching for fragments supporting our views on the topic and pulling them out of context. We want to avoid this, teaching that the Scriptures must be read in the wider context and heard as a word that God addresses to his church.
Reading texts for communion services follow the lectionary because they tell the story of Jesus (the Gospel) over the liturgical cycle. They are in line with the following themes: Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Annunciation, Lent and Easter, Ascension, Pentecost and Holy Trinity.
The purpose of sermon is to show the person and work of Jesus. Although the sermon is to influence life's affairs, its purpose is not only to gain knowledge of biblical principles and how to apply them in life, but to encounter with the person of Jesus Christ. The sermon should make it possible to hear the voice of God that shows Jesus. Then, the Biblical truth becomes not only understandable but also real and transformative. Therefore, the sermon should be three dimensional. Firstly, showing the biblical truth, that is finding Jesus in the Bible. Secondly, the practical application in life, that is how Jesus has become present in my everyday life. Thirdly, the experience of Jesus here and now, that is a real encounter with God. The sermon should build up the experienced believers and at the same time be understandable and evangelical for the newly converted or interested.
The service is an event during which we sing together, pray together, listen to the Word of God together, participate in communion together, make offerings together. In a similar way, as a Church, we together confess the faith through recitation of the Apostles' Creed or the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed. These creeds are common to all the historic and orthodox currents of the Church. The confession of faith is the common Bible practice - 2M 20:1-3; 5M 6:4; Philippians 2:11, 1 Timothy 1:15; 2 Timothy 2:11; Heb 13:15; 1 John 4:15.
Confession of faith has a pedagogical character: we teach our children the glorious and Biblical truths of Christianity – and remember them ourselves. This gives a Christian an opportunity of regular public declaration of what he believes. It's a sign of respect for the wisdom and the Church's theological legacy of past centuries. In a public way we declare that we identify ourselves with its history, and we write new history with our service.
The Lord's Prayer
The disciples knew that Jesus frequently withdrew into seclusion to pray. Though they were believers and often prayed as Jews, they sensed that the prayer of Jesus was something more than their prayers. Therefore, one day, when he had finished praying, they asked him to teach them to pray as He did. Jesus gave them a practical lesson. He taught them about prayer while praying. Therefore, the Lord's Prayer has two dimensions. On one hand, it is a prayer itself, on the other hand, it is a model of a prayer - every part of it tells about another element of effective Christian prayer.
The Lord's Prayer was included fairly early as part of a Sunday service - at the end of the first century (Didache). For centuries Christians believed that it is the sum and synopsis of all other prayers. St. Augustine said: "Examine all the prayers that are found in the Scriptures, and I do not believe that you could find something in them that the Lord's Prayer does not contain.”
Will it become another empty prayer in some time? Only when we lose the sense of what it means. Tradition becomes traditionalism, when the importance of what we do during the service is not explained for a long time. Therefore, the meaning of the Lord's Prayer should be periodically taught.
Responsive Readings and Written Prayers
King David, Jesus and the apostles prayed the "other people's" prayers. The trick is to make them be your prayers. We need to balance between form and spontaneity in our prayer life. It is good to pray with our own words, but sometimes we lack the right words. Often, then we stop to pray, not having the strength to "invent" the next sentence for God, or we catch ourselves at the fact that we repeat our prayer. We must therefore learn to pray with our words and the words of those who went before us. It is important for both kinds of prayers to flow from our hearts.
Communion is received according to the word of the Lord Jesus in both forms: bread and wine. It is known that only the Council of Constance in 1415, a hundred years before the Reformation, established giving the Holy Communion in only one form.
Communion is the meal of the New Covenant of God with man, also established in order to confirm the saints in the faith, that all the benefits derived from the sacrifice of Christ are theirs.
This sacrament has rightly been described as "food for the soul," which nourishes and strengthens the new man. Christ, who gave himself for us to death, lives in us (Gal. 2:20). Communion is thus the gift of new life.