Some information on Dutch church services
1. The pastor (minister) prays as follows:
Our help is in the name of the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. Whose love endures for ever and Who does not abandon the works of His hands. (Psalm 124:8 en 138:8)
Then he raises his hand and greets the congregation in God's name:
Grace and peace to you from God, our Father, and from Jesus Christ, our Lord, in the fellowship of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven Spirits before his throne, and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. Amen.(Rev.1:4).
2. We sing a hymn.
*3. The pastor reads the Ten Commandments from the bible. You can find these in Exodus 20:1-17. These commandments are also called 'the words of the covenant'; 3400 years ago God made a covenant with the people of Israel and gave them these commandments.
And God spoke all these words: 'I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.
1. You shall have no other gods before me.
2. You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to thousands who love me and keep my commandments.
3. You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.
4. Remember the sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labour and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but He rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blesses the sabbath day and made it holy. (Sabbath means to rest).
5. Honour your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.
6. You shall not murder.
7. You shall not commit adultery.
8. You shall not steal. 9. You shall not give false testimony against your neighbour.
10.You shall not covet your neighbour's house. You shall not covet your neighbour's wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or his donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbour.'
Then the pastor reads from the bible what the Lord Jesus Christ said about God's commandments:(Mark 12:29-31).
The most important one is this: 'Hear, o Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength'. The second is this: 'Love your neighbour as yourself'. There is no commandment greater than these.
4. We sing a hymn as an answer to God's commandments.
5. We ask God to have mercy on us and to be with us during this service. We also ask Him to help us understand what the bible says.
6. The pastor reads the passage from the bible, that he is going to give a sermon on. We also silently read from our own bibles.
7. We sing another hymn.
8. The pastor gives a sermon, which means that he explains what the passage read before means to us in our present time.
9. We sing another hymn as an answer to the sermon we just heard.
10. Once again we pray to God and ask Him to bless us, especially those who are ill or in difficult circumstances.
11. We sing another hymn to close the service.
12. The pastor stretches out both hands and blesses us in God's name: May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen. (2 Corinthians 13:14).
The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face towards you and give you peace. Amen.(Numbers 6:24- 26).
* In the evening service the creed is often read instead of the Ten Commandments. This creed was formulated in the first ages. Christians all over the world use these words to express their faith in God. Before reading the creed, the pastor often says
let each one of you also speak the following words in his or her heart' which means that those attending the service will also (silently) confess their faith.
1. I believe in God the Father, the Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth
2. And in Jesus Christ, His only Son*, our Lord,
3. Who was conceived of the Holy Spirit, born from the virgin Mary,
4. Who suffered under Pontius Pilate, who was crucified, who died and was buried, who descended into the realm of the dead,
5. Who rose from the dead on the third day,
6. Ascended to heaven, where He is sitting at the right hand of God, the almighty Father,
7. Whence He shall come to judge the living and the dead.
8. I believe in the Holy Spirit,
9. I believe in one holy universal Christian church, the fellowship of saints,
10. The forgiveness of sins,
11. The resurrection of the body,
12. And I believe in eternal life.
After the creed we sing another hymn.
* 'Son' should not be interpreted in a physical sense.
1. The pastor reads from an old writing which explains what the bible teaches with respect to baptism.
First of all, baptism teaches us that every person is born a sinner. We are unclean and need to be cleansed by God. Secondly, baptism is one of God's promises. God makes a covenant with us, promising to have mercy on us. We are baptised in the name of the Father because God the Father promises to accept and care for us as His very own children. We are baptised in the name of the Son, because Jesus Christ, being God's Son, promises to wash away our sins with His blood. This is possible as He bore the punishment of sin in our place. He gave His blood, which is His life, for us. He died and rose for us. Therefore He delivers us from all sin, and God regards us as being righteous. We are baptised in the name of the Holy Spirit, because the Holy Spirit promises to dwell in us, to make us holy by attaching us to Christ and direct our lives towards Him day by day. All these are God's promises in baptism. He also wants those who are baptised to promise that they will always love and obey Him. Many Christians have their small children baptised. The children do not yet understand and cannot yet make a promise. But still they are sinners from birth onwards, as the relationship of all mankind to God is broken. Therefore God says that He has already paid for their sins. The parents promise to explain all this to their children as they grow up. The children, once they have grown up, also have to promise for themselves that they will put their trust in God.
2. Now we pray for those who are to be baptised. We ask God to fulfil His promises in baptism and to give them strength to be faithful to Him.
3. Those who are to be baptised, or the parents of the children that are to be baptised, now have to say 'yes' to what they have heard.
4. The baptism is done by sprinkling some water on the forehead. (In some churches they baptise by immersion).
The pastor says the following:
I baptise you in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
5. The congregation wishes them God's blessing by singing a hymn.
THE LORD'S SUPPER
1. The pastor reads from an old writing which explains what the bible teaches with respect to the Lord's supper.
A summary: In the bible we read as follows: The Lord Jesus, on the night He was betrayed, 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, after supper He took the cup, saying: 'This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me'. For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until He comes. Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without recognising the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself (1 Corinthians 11:23-29).
Firstly, we have to consider how we stand before God. Do we recognise that our sin is so serious the Lord Jesus Christ had to suffer and die in order to save us? Do we believe that all our sins only have been forgiven because of His suffering and His death, and that He has fully paid for us? Are we willing to be thankful to God with all our lives, to live sincerely and lovingly with those around us? We have to be able to respond positively to these questions. Those who would rather continue to live sinfully, cannot participate in the Lord's supper. However, this does not mean that only those who are without any sin can participate. On the contrary, if we participate in the Lord's supper we confess to be sinners. The right attitude is to be sad about ours sins and to struggle against them day by day. Secondly, the Lord's supper was instituted by Jesus so that we would (again) think about and believe in what He did for us. How He, as long ago promised by God through the prophets, was sent to earth by His Father. How He became a man and bore God's punishment of our sins, when He was humiliated, ill-treated, sentenced to death although innocent, and crucified, so that we could be free.
As sure as we eat the bread and drink the wine, as sure we believe that Jesus Christ gave His life for us, that He warmly loves us, and that He is the only fountain of our lives. Through the work of the Holy Spirit we can be attached to Jesus. And as we eat one bread and drink one cup together, we are reminded that we have to live in unity with our fellow believers, like members of one family.
2. The pastor asks God to strengthen our faith through the Lord's supper.
3. As he breaks the bread, the pastor says:
The bread we break is the fellowship with the body of Christ.
As he takes the cup of wine he says:
The cup of thanksgiving, which we thankfully bless, is the fellowship with the blood of Christ.
4. After the Lord's supper we thank God by reading Psalm 103:1-13.