Monday, March 21, 2011

The Way We Worship Together: March 20, 2011 at Union Center

Welcome to a weekly overview of Union Center Christian Church's Sunday  morning service. You can learn also learn about some of the songs we sing at Union Center each week in advance of the Sunday service by reading my “Getting Ready For Sunday” post each Thursday.

Call To Worship

Pastor John welcomed as those gathered by God and invited to greet one another. 

Welcome to Union Center. We are here to worship the God who created us and gives us hope for our lives, our homes and our city. Stand with me and hear the word of God, in John chapter 4, speak of the hope that we have in Jesus Christ.

Pastor John:  But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers.

All:  In Jesus Christ we are His holy people, His worshipers.  Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost.

Jesus made a new way for us to worship.  Let’s join our voices and sing.
Song: My Soul Magnifies the Lordwritten by Daniel Carson & Chris Tomlin. We learned this re-telling of Mary's Magnificat during December.  This week our chapter in the Story covered the birth of Christ and we thought it would be meaningful to rehearse Mary's response to God' purposes for her, told through the angel Gabriel.

My soul magnifies the Lord,
My soul magnifies the Lord
He has done great things for me, 
Great things for me.

Child Dedication
A couple of times a year we invite new parents to dedicate their children as part of our corporate worship.  Over the years, we've alternated between doing this during Sunday morning worship or as its own event on a Sunday evening.  I, for one, love that we've brought this ordinance into the midst of the community so that we can affirm each other more fully.  After all, when parents commit to raising their child to follow the Lord (and to receive all the benefits of health, education and the church, as one of the vows states), we all make a commitment to pray and support each other through the years.  It's a beautiful act of family, in it's extended, corporate sense.

Between two services, nine families dedicated ten chiildren.  Unfortunately, I don't have the copy of statements of dedication.  Pastor John read the purpose of the dedication, recited a series of statements to which the parents replied "I do" and then invited covenant members to respond with our own "I do".  Pastor John then prayed for each of the children by name.

Words and Prayers of Confession
In this second week of Lent, we are seeking God to send His people to every place.  We are reminded of God’s blessing on Abraham in Genesis 28:14:  Your descendants will also be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south; and in you and in your descendants shall all the families of the earth be blessed. Will you read after me in a prayer of confession to our God? 

Randy:  What you promised our father Jacob so long ago has been partly fulfilled. But though we are many, we have yet to be spread everywhere. 
All:  Continue to send Your people to every part of the globe, including our own city. 
Reader: Wherever the gospel has been heard, cause it also to be seen.  Establish tangible signs of Your ongoing goodness. 
All:  Amen

Reader:  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

Song: Shout to the Northwritten by Martin Smith.  We sang this as a response to the Word in Genesis 28:14 and to frame our corporate prayer that God would send His people to every place on the globe.
Shout to the North and the South,
Sing to the East and the West,
Jesus is Savior to all;
Lord of Heaven and Earth.

Congregational Prayer: As a congregation, we are praying through the 40 days of Lent for God to bless our city (Seek God for the City).  We framed this week's prayer during the middle of Shout to the North.
Let’s pray from March 20 in Seek God for the City prayer books.  You can also follow along on the screen.
Margaret:  Merciful God, we ask that you would make everyday believers become Your proclaimers. Support their testimony by clear exhibits of Your love in the families and neighborhood of Greater Binghamton and Ngasyak. For Christians to receive this promise as a mandate, that they will labor together to complete the task of evangelization.
Men:  Oh, Lord, hear our prayer. 
Margaret:  For the gospel to be proclaimed to the unevangelized people who are often overlooked in our city.
Women: Oh, Lord, hear our prayer
Margaret:  For the gospel of the kingdom to be conveyed to our friends and neighbors with clarity, wisdom and power.
All:  We take you at your Word when You say that the gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world and to all nations and then the end will come. 
Margaret:  Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus! 
All: Amen. 
Song: O the Deep, Deep Love of Jesus, (public domain) words by Samuel Trevor Francis and music adapted from a Welsh melody by Thomas John Williams.  Our musicians and congregation have fully embraced the updated arrangement from Indelible Grace Music.  The instrumentation rolls and swells with the lyrical rehearsal of the heights and depths of God's great love lived out in the flesh of His son, Jesus.
O the deep, deep love of Jesus,
Vast, unmeasured, boundless, free!

Rolling as a mighty ocean,
in its fullness over me!

Song: I Am Freewords and music by Jon Egan.  An appropriate anthem of thanksgiving for the work of Christ that rescues us to live and move and have our being.

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.
Message:  This week The Story transitioned us from the Old Testament to the New Testament.  The birth of a Savior provided, once and for all, a chance at redemption for all of humankind.  Pastor Joshua reminded us truths about the truths of grace, redemption Christ offered by becoming fully man and remaining fully man.  Wonderful news of the Gospel!  (to download the audio recording of Pastor Joshua's sermon, click here).

Song: In Christ Alone words and music by Keith Getty and Stuart Townend.  We sang this as a confession of our dependence on the finished work of Christ:
In Christ alone! Who took on flesh,
Fulness of God in helpless babe!
Words of Sending and Benediction:  Pastor John had us read John 3:16 together as a way to remember that that God's love, enfleshed in His only begotten Son, was intended for the whole world.  He reminded us of opportunities to meet Carl and Noreen Dambman, missionaries from Moscow who've been with us for 30 years.  Also, this week our congregation will be praying together for Asia: Pastor John encouraged us to pray for Allyson W. and to consider encouraging our local Japanese community by attending the benefit organized by Hidy Ochiai and Kampai Steakhouse on March 31.  He then prayed over us to leave blessed by God to be a blessing to others.

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