12.1.5 Divine service as an encounter with God

The four elements of divine service present in the early church are still today among the definitive characteristics present when the congregation experiences the mystery of an encounter between God and man at the altar, which is always new.


The Trinitarian opening formula–"In the name of God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit"–is an invocation of God and the reassurance of His presence. This is how we begin every encounter with the triune God in divine service. Likewise, every divine service is concluded with the Trinitarian benediction. This makes it clear to those attending the divine service that God is present.


Just as the heavenly hosts praise God in heaven (Isaiah 6: 3; Revelation 4: 8-11), so too the congregation glorifies and praises the triune God, His grace, and His mercy.


The divine service is intended to strengthen hope in the imminent return of Christ and to prepare the believers for the appearing of the Lord. For this reason, divine service is sacred to them. Thoughtless neglect in attending divine service jeopardises the steadfast continuation in the Apostles' doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers, as practised by the early Christians.


Those who frequently abstain from attending the divine services without compelling reasons run the risk of losing their longing for the sacrament and the word effected by the Spirit. Beyond that, the powers of Holy Communion do not flow into their souls, their sins are not forgiven, and they lose out on fellowship with God and all related blessings.


Those who refuse to give God the worship due Him by rejecting or even despising the divine service and the grace it offers, charge themselves with sin–whether or not they actually attend the divine service.