As one body, in union with Christ and in the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, we come before God in expectation of dialogue, an actual give-and-take exchange between God and God’s people. Biblical worship flows like a purposeful conversation, during which we speak, but only because we have been spoken to.
In a classic form of the dialogue, God issues an invitation, a call to worship: “Worship the Lord with gladness; come into his presence with singing”; and we respond, “For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever…”
God longs for reconciliation with and among his children, and so we confess our sins and lament their effects. God assures us we have been forgiven in Christ, and we renew our commitment to live faithfully. Before Scripture is read, we call upon the Spirit to illumine our minds and soften our hearts. God speaks, through the ancient text that is opened and the message that is preached. Thanks be to God, we may hear in the message the Word of the Lord. God seals His promises in the cup of salvation and the waters of baptism, tangible gifts by which we taste and see that the Lord is good. We pray—for ourselves, the church, and the world—and we offer our gifts.
Having had the first word, God also has the last: a blessing of grace and peace.
—Cornelius Plantinga, Jr. and Sue A. Rozeboom, Discerning the Spirits: A Guide to Thinking about Christian Worship Today, 136-8