Monday, March 29, 2010

Renewing the Liturgy: a Sunday review

To be honest, this idea of a weekly look at our services together at Union Center Christian Church makes me quite nervous.  I've kind of lost my innocence in browsing worship websites saying one thing -- We're here to proclaim the gospel of Christ for this generation! (or, some such) -- but revealing another -- We're here to proclaim our own name for this generation of church consumers!  [shudder, shudder, shudder]

At the same time, our Worship & Arts ministry is striving toward a deeper understanding of worship in all of its biblical, theological, global, historical and missional glories.  Toward a more mature discipline in an artistically-rich, contextually-relevant and relationally-driven community.  Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on us!

With all that being said, it would seem a weekly discussion of our corporate practice of worship might be a helpful tool toward those lofty, God-dependent goals.  That is the spirit in which I present this new weekly post.  It is the spirit in which I pray it is both presented and received.

Sunday, March 28, 2010 -- Palm Sunday
The Gathering:  The corporate conversation between God and his children is begun. God’s children are entering his presence and the dialogue begins.
  • Pre-service:  team leads the song Majestic as a preparation for worship celebration. (Lincoln Brewster)
  • Call to Worship:  A prayer for Palm Sunday and a responsive reading from Philippians 2:6-11 reminding us that "God exalted Him above every name" led by service host (a pastor). (Prayer taken from this prayer journey book that Union Center used for the past 40 days; responsive reading adapted from The Open Sourcebook).
  • Congregational song: Let God Arise (Ed Cash, Jesse Reeves, & Chris Tomlin)
  • Congregational song:  Ancient of Days, a slightly-updated arrangement that our team came up with for one of our church's "old favorites" (Jamie Harville and Gary Sadler)
  • Turn and Greet One Another; Offering; "Life at the Center":  led by Brian, our service host,  for the purpose of congregational responses of worship in community and giving.  The Life at the Center announcement featured Good Friday services.  The service host concluded this portion of the service by introducing a section of Hebrew praise songs in order to celebrate both Palm Sunday and our guest speaker, a professor of Hebrew from the local Bible college.  To begin this portion of the service, the service host introduced us to a children's choir.
The Renewal:  As worshipers come into the presence of a holy God, they acknowledge their sinfulness and seek forgiveness and renewal in God’s grace.
  • Hinei Ma Tov: special sung by a children's choir, translated to mean "Behold how good and pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity" from Psalm 133. And -- they lit up the place with their joy and excellent singing!

  • Hebrew worship song medley:  Make a Joyful Noise (Terry Butler), Come Clap Your Hands (former Union Center member, John Wessells) and Thou Art A Shield (a wonderful worship song taken from Psalm 3, but -- sadly -- I do not know who wrote it!)
  • Corporate Prayer:  Pastor John led us in a prayerful response to all the truths we'd celebrated in song and then in a time of prayer for our city upon the one-year anniversary of the tragic shootings at the American Civic Association in Binghamton.  This time included a moment of silent prayer.
The Word:
  • Four Passovers and a Look Ahead: taught by Dr. George Snyder, professor of Hebrew at Davis College in Johnson City.  This was an excellent overview of the biblical and religious history for the Jewish celebration of Passover and then a look at the ways Jesus changed the tradition during the Last Supper as a way to announce the Kingdom of God that he brought into being through his death, burial and resurrection.  This included a reminder that our place in the story is like that of Egypt's place in the first Passover.  We are on the outside with no blood for our "doorposts" except for the blood of Jesus that God sacrificed for us.  We seek to remember these things and rehearse them with our children in order to celebrate God's rescue of us in each generation.
The Response to the Word:  God’s Word always calls for a response on the part of those who hear. This section provides opportunities for responses of faith, thanksgiving, and obedience.
  • Responsive reading of the Word:  This was supposed to have been a responsive reading from Psalm 107:1-3, 116, led by our senior pastor.  In our attempts at a five-fold pattern of worship, this time of response to the Word is what we have the most difficulty saving time to do well.  This was especially true on a day with a guest speaker and two other pastors leading portions of the service.  
  • Congregational Song:  What the Lord Has Done In Me (Reuben Morgan).  This was our big opportunity to sing the HOSANNAS for Palm Sunday.  Unfortunately, it was completely cut out of first service and severely shortened for second service.
The Sending:  The corporate conversation between God and his people comes to an end, and elements are provided by which we take leave of each other. The dialogue ends and we go out as a people who have been blessed to be a blessing.
  • Benediction
This post is part of a blogging carnival at The Worship

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