When looking into Reformed Theology and the Liturgy it is important to observe that this shapes how the body of Christ worships. It is important to observe that this is not just for the body’s experience, but it is a representation of how to love God. The Liturgy shapes a heart posture around the importance of a gathering and a sending. Worship has a cosmic shape behind it, it is not left within the walls of the building, but it becomes a way of being, having influence in God’s creation.
Sacraments shape our worship. The table and the font shape the way we as a community ought to see who we are in Christ and who we are to each other. We must not limit this to the local congregation, for surely we believe within the Reformed tradition that we are part of the global Church. When we gather, and when we depart from the building, God’s Church goes to the world. This is where we need not be limited to thinking that worship happens on Sundays or when the body gathers. For true worshippers, will gather in Spirit and in Truth, and they will go holding these values. This by definition calls the body to uphold the law, to live into the covenant of Christ, to find its identity at the table and font, to go and love God along with loving the neighbor. This defines our worship. Worship then should be seen through a light of not just picking songs and hymns, but as a way of being sent into the community to love the neighbor. Our worship is justice oriented, and it is our spiritual act of worship to offer ourselves as sacrifices; to God, and to each other.
The Heidelberg Catechism for all intended purposes has shaped how we view worship. In fact that was one of the original intents behind it. “The Heidelberg Catechism was intended by the compliers of the order not only to be a compendium of private instruction, but also the standard for the doctrine, disciple, and worship for the churches in the territory.” If we conclude that this was a way of conducting worship then we have to look at some of the questions. Question 4 asks: What does God’s law require of us? The answer is a reference to Matthew 22:37-40 stating: You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. Our worship therefore is shaped on how we love God and how we love our neighbor. The central and distinctive theme of Reformed theology is the sovereignty of God, the realm of God, and the kingdom of God. We can from this point understand that our worship is consisting of not only looking to God, but also to the kingdom of God.
Christ guides us in the realm of the kingdom. Christ demonstrates what it looks like to be focused on how and why we love our neighbors. We are given definition as to what this looks like. When we love God, and we love our neighbors, then we are in the midst of worship itself. So the question remains then, is worship and liturgy justice oriented? Is the kingdom of God concerned with neighbors and others? Can we find a representation both around Baptism and the Lord’s Supper along with scripture? I believe so.
In honor of the two sacraments that we uphold to be true we can learn from them and their biblical witness on how this can call us to worship by loving God and loving our neighbors. Paul in referencing our baptism writes: “Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we also live with him. For we know that since Christ has raised us from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.” If we live, then we live as Christ. To love God is to live as Christ. This is also demonstrated in a heart posture that Paul writes in Galatians 3:27 when he says, “for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.” In our Baptism, when we live and clothe ourselves as Christ, it is a form of worship.
When looking at the table we see how we gather to be fed and nourished so we can be sent. At the table we remember Christ’s crucifixion. We also then are fed by one loaf and one cup to go and love fervently. In the Belgic confession: Article 35, it states on the very issue of the Lord’s Supper that: “In short, by the use of this holy sacrament we are moved to a fervent love of God and neighbors.” We are a part of the global Church, worshiping by honoring the sacraments. We find our identity in the Lord’s Supper and in our Baptism. We are unified as one Church around one loaf that is Christ Jesus our Lord. We find ourselves striving to live as Christ and we find ourselves being nourished at the table to go and love.
Between the sacraments and Reformed Theology we can clearly see that it shapes the way we worship. To worship is to love God, and the neighbor. To worship is more than a hymn, it is action by invitation. God leads us to a place through Christ and by the Spirit to love Himself and love others. If we look at the life of Christ, we can see the mission that we need to participate in. Our worship extends past the institutional walls and breaks into the world as a form of action. Our worship calls us to seek Christ in the world.
In Luke 4 Christ picks up a scroll and says, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release of the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.” We see in Matthew 4 that as Jesus went he was healing the sick and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and curing every disease.
What we need to recover is the fact that this creates a paradigm for our worship. Our worship, our liturgy, is shaped by Christ. We can see through the Lord’s Supper and through our Baptism that we are united with Christ. What we also need to see is that our worship is not just about gathering around these elements, it is being sent. It is a sending in the same way that Christ was sent. We as the Church demonstrate our worship by the way we go to the poor. We worship when we proclaim the year of the Lord and when we set the captives free. We are recognized in our worship by how we feed and heal. Our worship is justice centered.
Our paradigm of worship is shaped by Christ’s ministry. Our paradigm of worship is forged by scripture. Our paradigm of worship needs to be centralized in how we love God and how we love our neighbors. This calls us to a place on asking how our liturgy ought to be creatively shaped in the future. We as the body need to recognize that we have neighbors. We have neighbors who are in need. We have neighbors in our local community and in our global community. We as the body need to see that in our Baptism and in the Lord’s Supper we find our identity in Christ who went to the neighbor and restored them. Christ went to such great lengths as to die for the Church and the neighbor.
We as the Church need to adopt the same heart posture in our worship. In our sending we need to have eyes and ears for our neighbors. We need to love God and love our neighbor. Our worship is determined by this heart posture. So become advocates for the neighbor. Seek justice and seek restoration. This is your spiritual act of worship, to sacrifice for God and others. To come to the table to be fed and then to nourish the neighbors. One day we may be asked before our creator as to if we loved Him. One day He may say to us, “thank you for feeding my sheep.”
 Christopher Dorn. “The Liturgy for the Lord’s Day and the Lord’s Supper: Critical Turning Points,” in Liturgy Among the Thorns, ed. James Hart Brumm (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2008), 11.
 See also: 1 Corinthians 10:16-17
 Luke 4:18-19