Pastor Craig welcomed us as those gathered by God and invited us to greet one another.
Welcome to UnionCenter Christian Church. We are here to worship the God who created us and gives us hope for our lives, our homes, this city and all nations. Stand with me and hear the voice of John the Baptist in Matthew 3 proclaiming the fulfillment of God’s promised Messiah:
Matthew 3:1 – 3
In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah:
‘A voice of one calling in the wilderness,
“Prepare the way for the Lord,
Make straight paths for him.’”
Let’s sing together in praise of God’s glory revealed in Jesus Christ.
Song: For All You've Done, written by Reuben Morgan.A song of response for the finished work of the promised Messiah...
And You lived, and You died. And You rose again on high.
And You opened the way for the world to live again.
for all You've done.
Song: How Deep the Father's Love For Us, written by Stuart Townend.Our corporate worship pattern is to listen for and rehearse the revealed Word of God as well as to offer responses of adoration, confession, thanksgiving, lament and commitment, this song repeats again for us the work of Christ to satisfy every requirement of a holy God.
Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer.
But this I know with all my heart.
His wounds have paid my ransom.
Words and Prayers ofConfession
In this third week of Lent, we are seeking God to establish justice. Read with me God's promise in Isaiah 42:1-4:
Beau: Behold, My Servant, whom I uphold; My chosen one in whom My soul delights. I have put My Spirit upon Him.
All: He will bring forth justice to the nations. He will not cry out or raise His voice, nor make His voice heard in the street...He will faithfully bring forth justice.
Beau: He will not be disheartened or crushed until He has established justice in the earth. This is the Word of the Lord.
All: Thanks be to God.
Beau: We pour water again to remember the that He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit. He generously poured out the Spirit upon us.
[each week of Lent, we are pouring water from a red glass pitcher into six glass bowls, representing the Christ who poured Himself out for us]
All: Jesus Christ our Savior
Laura: God, we pray for Your mission to be accomplished in our city. Place us at the side of Your Son who has conquered death itself. Place us at His side so we'll be found with Him among the forgotten. Put His Spirit upon us as well so that we can labor faithfully in hope.
Let's sing this song as a loud AMEN to all we have just spoken.
Song: Did You Hear the Mountains Tremble?, written by Martin Smith. We sang this as a response to Isaiah's prophecy that the Suffering Servant, through the Spirit of God, wold bring the justice of God to this earth. We celebrate that promise even while we are longing to see it completely fulfilled.
Open up the doors and let the music play,
let the streets resound with singing.
Songs that bring Your hope, songs that bring Your joy,
dancers who dance upon injustice.
Prayer of Thanksgiving and Giving:
We respond to our Creator and Redeemer with words and acts of thanks. We give from all we have - heart, soul, mind, strength, gifts and resources.
Life at the Center: Reports from the Ngasyak Team:
Nine members of our congregation made the first official trip to our partner village in Africa. Today they were able to share their experience with us so that we can celebrate together God's answers to our prayers for this trip and for our future relationship.
Song introduction to the Message: Unfortunately, I wasn't in the sanctuary to hear how this worked out; Pastor Garry had asked the the planning team to write a new tune to the familiar lyrics of the 80's sitcom, Cheers. (sometimes you want to go, where everybody knows your name, and they're always glad you came...)
This Sunday the third Sunday of Lent, and the twenty-third week of our Story sermon series. Hopefully you've been reading along through the story of the Bible with us, but it's not too late to start! Pastor Garry taught us from the Gospel accounts of Jesus' ministry on earth. He showed us through these accounts, and especially the interaction Jesus had with the Samaritan woman at the well, Jesus' purpose to bring healing, wholeness and emotional health to broken people. To listen to the audio stream of the sermon, go here.
Remember, we'd love to hear how you've been impacted by this study through The Story. You can share with us how God's using the study in your life by emailing us at OurStory@unioncenter.org.
Congregational Prayer of Response: A poet in our community (Brett Alan Dewing) crafted this responsive prayer, intended to give us language to respond to all that we'd heard in our time together.
Pastor Garry: Sovereign Father, Gracious Son, Loving Spirit,
All: We repent of making you merely
One who grants wishes or wishes us well.
We confess we have not loved you well
Or seen your face in the water clearly.
Garry: Send your holy and whelming flood
And leave your living waters around us.
All: Lord, we are thirsty to really live --
For your water that will not lead to thirst --
But confess we do not believe we first
Can be content with what you give.
Women: Like the woman of Samaria
We have busied ourselves
Drawing water that will not satisfy.
We have willingly believed the lie
That we do not well suit,
That we are tied to histories of bad repute.
Alicia: Come and see the man
Who told me all I ever did.
Women: We no longer believe because of what you said
But because of what we ourselves have heard.
Men: Like the men of Senegal
We have gathered around demon wells.
We have broken faith
Through ugly addictions and earthly decisions
And passed on dirty water
To our songs and daughters
And those whom we love the most.
Garry: I will sprinkle you with clean water,
And you will be clean.
Men: We give you our hearts of stone
And receive hearts of flesh.
All: We are mothers and fathers
Of muddy waters.
We are brothers and sisters
Of broken cisterns.
Garry: Let us go forth
To water coolers and watering holes
Where everybody knows our name.
All: May we carry the living water there
So that your name is what we share.
From what we have received,
Let us pour out and offer your sustaining water,
Transforming our pools of influence
Into wells where everybody knows Your Name.
Song: Come to the Water, by John Foley. We are invited to bring all of ourselves to the cleansing, refreshing, thirst-quenching Living Water.
Oh, let all who thirst,
let them come to the water.
Benediction: The March 27 entry in Seek God for the City encouraged us to pray for the international visitors among us. Jesus interaction with the Samaritan woman is a beautiful picture of this. We intied Alicia Hill, an English as a Second Language teacher at the local Civic Association to craft and pray our benediciton.