Friday, April 29, 2011

Getting Ready for Sunday at Union Center: April 17, 2011

Linking to the Getting Ready for Sunday post up at the Worship & Arts blog at

He is risen indeed!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Monday Mix Tape: [the Easter-tide edition]

I've never been so grateful for Easter celebration as these years I've lived the rhythm of Lent.  Boy, am I one weak woman.  I spent the last couple hours before Easter dreaming about the most trivial comforts --  things like watching television and drinking Diet Pepsi.  Certainly I would have been asleep had I been with those in the garden supposing to pray with their Teacher.  Not only asleep, but probably dreaming about what I planned for tomorrow's lunch.

Nevertheless and indeed, He is risen!  Good gifts abound in spite of my undeserving self. My boy is home and we've got time to be together -- all six of us -- so I'm not finding much time to write this week.  Still, we celebrated Easter well and we plan to keep that up for awhile.  We're glad for the good gifts lavished on us from the Father -- glad for the ways He is making all things new.

1.  Ain't No Grave, Johnny Cash
2.  Wake Up, Arcade Fire
3.  Resurrect Me, Jon Foreman
4.  Awake My Soul, Mumford & Sons
5.  But For You Who Fear My Name, The Welcome Wagon
6.  Beautiful Savior, The Innocence Mission
7.  All Will Be Well, The Gabe Dixon Band
8.  All Things New, Andrew Peterson
10. It Is Well With My Soul, Innocence Mission
11. Rise, Robbie Seay Band
12. Oh, Happiness, David Crowder Band

Standalone player

I've been planning some fun ways to blog through the Easter weeks.  I'll be back soon!
You, blogging friends, are certainly on my list of good things...

The Way We Worship Together: Easter Sunday, 2011

Our weekly recap is over at the new Worship & Arts blog at!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Getting Ready for Sunday

Getting ready for Sunday posts have moved to the new Worship & Arts blog at

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Wednesday is for Words (& sometimes pictures): John Updike

Remembering Christ together at Union Center,
Good Friday 2011
for more details, go to

from Seven Stanzas of EasterJohn Updike:Let us not mock God with metaphor,
analogy, sidestepping transcendence;
making of the event a parable, a thing painted in the faded credulity
of earlier ages:
let us walk through the door.
Let us not make it less monstrous,
for in our own convenience, our own sense of beauty,
lest, awakened in one unthinkable hour,
we are embarrassed by the miracle,
and crushed by remonstrance.
--ht: thank you for posting this poem in its entirety today, Continuum!

a hymn each day for Holy Week

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Tuesday is for Nesting: lenten home

a hymn for each day of Holy Week

Our holy week is marked by bursts of busy-ness preparing for church services and son's travel home.  We set apart Good Friday evening to worship together at church.  Silent Saturday morning we sit in individual silence, praying, reading, (I suspect a couple of the people in this house will worship in their sleep).  And, then, because we spend much of Easter Sunday serving God's people in worship, we start our resurrection celebration starting at noon on Saturday.  Some years we shop for new clothes.  Some years we eat a big lent-free feast.  This year maybe we'll color eggs.  Who knows?

In any case, I'm grateful for the Way of Light Wreath sitting quietly on our dining room table all the 40 days of Lent.  I'm grateful to Caleb Voskamp for his craftsmanship.  The wooden figure of Jesus plodding one mark each day, bent under the weight of the cross, focusing each step forward for the joy set before Him.  May I grow up in Him by growing down in His long obedience to the Father.

photo credit: Ann Voskamp

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Way We Worship Together: April 17, 2011 at Union Center

*This is also posted at thank you to the wonderful Hope Spicer for this week's photos!

Welcome to a weekly overview of Union Center Christian Church's Sunday  morning service.  You’ll not only read a list of the songs we led following the Call To Worship, but also the readings and prayers from our pattern of worship (aka, liturgy).

You can find links to the set lists of this church and many other churches each week in the Worship Blog Carnival at You can learn about some of the songs we sing at Union Center each week in advance of the Sunday service by reading the “Getting Ready For Sunday” post each Thursday.

Call To Worship
This week one of our church elders, Mike Comfort, facilitated our gathering as a service host.  After greeting the congregation as those gathered by God, we greeted each other.  Then, Mike led us in a call to worship. 

Today is Palm Sunday, a day celebrated in the Church that looks back on Jesus' entry into Jerusalem. It was a day when He was honored and declared as a King. Today we echo those shouts of praise through Scripture and songs. Read with me the Word of God in Psalm 24:

 Lift up your heads, O gates, And lift them up, O ancient doors,
That the King of glory may come in!
Who is this King of glory?
The LORD of hosts. He is the King of glory!
Let's sing to our King Jesus!

Song: King of Glory, written by Chris Tomlin. While this song is not necessarily new, it was a new song for our congregation, we echo the prophecy in Psalm 24, Who is this King of GloryListen to the song on YouTube.

Song: Sing to the Kingwritten by Billy James Foote.

Song: O Worship the Kingwords written by Robert Grant (1779-1838) and original melody attributed to Johann Micheal Haydn (1737-1806).  We use the version that has been reset  by Chris Tomlin.  Listen to it on YouTube.  For some reason, when Passion reset this hymn, they changed some of the lyrics that were most important to Pastor John.  We sing the original, instead (and we sang it at a pretty good clip today, didn't we?!?):
Frail children of dust
And feeble as frail,
In Thee do we trust,
nor find Thee to fail;
Thy mercies, how tender,
how firm to the end!
Our Maker, Defender,
Redeemer and Friend! 

Words and Prayers of Confession

In this final Sunday of Lent, we are seeking God to fill the world with His glory. Read with me the account of Jesus' triumphal entry:

A great crowd who had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying,
"Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!"
We pour water again this final week to remember that the King of Glory 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 red bowls, adding one bowl each week.  This represents the Christ who poured Himself out for us and the living water of new birth.]
Jesus Christ our Savior.

Congregational Prayer
Let's pray from the April 17 entry in the Seek God for the City prayer books.  You can also follow along on the screen.
We pray that You would visit Your people in ways that cause the nations to turn their attention to You. Come! Fill this world with Your glory. Find Greater Binghamton and Ngasyak prepared by our prayers to welcome You.
Men: We pray for Christ to capture the attention and desire of many who have ignored or rejected Him.
Hosanna, Save us now!
Women: We agree and pray for believers to be filled with expectant love for Christ.
All: Hosanna, blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest!

Song: What Wondrous Love Is This, an American Folk Hymn in public domain. We sing from the depths of our sinking down to the Christ who has saved us, is saving us now and will save us on that day "when from death I'm free We sing from a version reset by Indelible Grace Music.  Read all of the lyrics, download free chord charts and listen to a demo mp3 here.
To God and to the Lamb,
I will sing, I will sing;
To God and to the Lamb I will sing.
To God and to the Lamb
Who is the great "I Am".
While millions join the theme
I will sing, I will sing;
While millions join the theme I will sing.

Song: What the Lord Has Done In Mewritten by Rueben Morgan.  We add our Hosannas to the worship of saints and angels singing Worthy is the Lamb!    Listen to the song on YouTube.  

Prayer of Thanksgiving and Giving:
The appropriate response to our Creator and Redeemer is to give from all we have - heart, soul, mind, strength, gifts and resources.

Message:  Dr. John Cionca, pastor and consultant from Ministry Transitions, Inc., updated us on the Transition Journey our congregation is on and then taught us from the Word of God.

In our Story sermon series, we'd read this past week about Jesus' last days before suffering crucifixion and death.  If you haven't read along with the Story series, it's not too late to start! This week's text covered Matthew chapters 26 - 27, Mark chapters 14-15, Luke chapters 22-23 and John chapters 13-14 and 16-19.   This week  our guest teacher, Dr. John Cionca, will led us through the hours of darkness when the crowds surrounding Jesus changed their exclamations of adoration to demands for His death.

Don't forget, 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

Communion as Response to the Word: 
There is no more appropriate week to remember the work of Christ in the bread and the drink, then at this outset of Holy Week.  Mike Comfort gave us spiritual direction in the taking of communion together and encouraged us to reflect on the love of Christ, who set before Him the joy of obedience to His Father.

Song: I Surrender All, 
written by Judson Wheeler Van DeVenter and Winfield Scott Weeden.  Our response to the obedience of Christ can only be a commitment to learn the same obedience and surrender ourselves.  Andrea led us in this song and time of commitment.

To the King and to His Kingdom.  There is a King!

Words of Sending and Benediction:
Mike blessed us with the words of Hebrews 12:2: "Let us look only to Jesus, the One who began our faith and who makes it perfect. He suffered death on the cross. But he accepted the shame as if it were nothing because of the joy that God put before him. And now he is sitting at the right side of God's throne"

Monday Mix Tape: the Hosanna edition

I just lost a whole wonderful post about my family and the things we've been doing together the past weeks.  I'm so disappointed!  I guess a prayer and a song are the best I've got to offer today.

From Everyday Liturgy:

God Almighty, we look to you as the coming king,
knowing that your kingdom is not gained through the powers of this world,
but is a kingdom not of this world.
We lay down our clothes and praise your name,
asking that your kingdom come
and your will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.

[the line "We lay down our clothes and praise your name" reminded me of this.]

Sojourn Church re-worked one of their songs from Advent for the narrative of Jesus' triumphal entry.  I think the word "Hosanna!" is a prayer I need to know and use often these days.

God, save us now!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Monday Mix Tape: [the Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread edition]

This fourth and fifth week of Lent, my readings at home and for church weave in and out the Gospel narratives of Jesus' teaching, storytelling, new covenant living. I got blessedly stuck in the Beatitudes for two weeks, missing whole pages of readings reminding me the prejudice and favoritism-bent darkness still blinding me to the way of true religion.  Yet, providentially, the Incarnate Christ taught me anyway.  Taught me the outlandish behavior of the Christ asking a Samaritan woman for drink during a homily in St. Patrick's Cathedral a couple of Sundays ago.  Imagine too the counter-cultural chutzpah of this mid-town Manhattan priest reminding his listeners the sacredness of marriage between one man and one woman for life.  Many would say that this teaching is the epicenter of a bigoted worldview, no?  Jesus the provoker, the agitator served living water to the relationship-parched social outcast woman.  Out of all the responses in that village, not one person complained of bigotry.  Only the sheer shock of a transformed life.  Living water lived out in real life speaks for itself, yes?

What Matters More by Derek Webb

This week we move to Jesus' outrageous critique on wealth, possessions, stockpiling stuff that's not going to last longer than the dust of our bodies.  He bandies about outrageous (and I'd guess, infuriating) metaphors about camels, needles, moths and rust.  Instead of patting the guy on the back who had money and good manners (and could've probably footed the bill for at least a few meals on the road for the whole crew), Jesus sent him out with the ridiculous task of giving away all of his stuff to the poor before he could even consider following Him. 

House of Gold by Patty Griffin

I selected music this week to help me to imagine not only the gut-twisting truths Jesus told his followers about piling up temporary wealth ["Fool! Tonight you die.  And your barnful of goods -- who gets it?"], but also the tender offers He makes to meet all of our needs ["So don't be afraid little flock. For it gives your Father great happiness to give you the Kingdom."]  

Standalone player

1.  Resurrect Me, Jon Foreman
2.  Dustbowl Dance, Mumford & Sons
3.  Sold! To the Nice Rich Man, The Welcome Wagon
4.  Flint (For the Unemployed and Underpaid), Sufjan Stevens
5.  Coat of Many Colors, Dolly Parton
6.  Wayfaring Stranger, Emmylou Harris
7.  Holy, Holy, Holy, Sufjan Stevens
8.  I Sought the Lord, Leigh Nash and Megan Roderick
9.  Jesus, The Welcome Wagon

Lastly, a musical meditation on the daily bread petition Jesus taught us to pray. (thanks Brett, for sharing this with me!)

Getting Ready for Sunday at Union Center: April 17, 2011

Now posting at our brand, spanking-new Worship & Arts blog at!

Friday, April 08, 2011

Getting Ready for Sunday at Union Center: April 10, 2011

This Sunday marks the fifth Sunday of Lent, and the twenty-fifth 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!  This week Pastor John will be taking us on a tour through Jesus' masterful story-telling (aka, parables), connecting the dots with a warning for us to have ears to hear the deeper truths within the story.
Don't forget, 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
Songs we’ll sing together include:
  • Son of God  We figured there was no better time to pull out this old Lincoln Brewster favorite than the weeks we are learning the life of the Son of God.  Listen to the song on YouTube.
  • Give Reviving We'll continue our forty-day prayer journey for our city through the prayers written in Seek God for the City.  This week we are asking God for confident gladness in the midst of chaos and turmoil.  This song asks God for refreshing and we'll sing it as a prayer .  Listen to a sample of the song on iTunes.  Read the lyrics by 19th century hymn-writer Albert Midlane and  altered by 21st century singer/songwriter, Chelsey Scott.
  • Marvelous Light  In Christ, "every Sunday is a weekly little Easter" (James F. White).  We celebrate that "sin has lost its power, death has lost its sting" because "from the grave You've  risen, victoriously!"  Listen to the song at
See you Sunday!

Monday, April 04, 2011

The Way We Worship Together: April 3, 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 Sal welcomed us as those gathered by God and invited us to greet one another. And then shared ministry updates for Good Friday and Easter events at Union Center as well as updates for the Transition Journey we are in as a congregation.

Let's stand together and hear the Word of God call us to worship.

Psalm 67:1, 3 and 4
God be gracious to us and bless us, and cause His fact to shine upon us....Let the peoples praise You, O God! Let all the peoples praise You! Let the nations be glad and sing for joy; for You will judge the peoples with uprightness and guide the nations on the earth.

Let's sing our hallelujahs to this gracious and just God!
Song: Agnus Dei - We use the Third Day arrangement of this song written by Michael W. SmithaThere's no stronger call to worship than to realize we are gathered together, joining our hallelujahs to the praises of saints and angels gathered around God's throne.  Listen to the song on

Song: Rock of Ageswritten by Reverand Augustus Toplady.  WAt all times, but especially in these Lenten days leading to the Great Easter celebration, we are reminded "Thou must save, and Thou alone.  Listen to the version we use from David Crowder at
Not the labors of my hands / can fulfill the law's demands;
Could my zeal no respite know, / could my tears forever flow,
All for sin could not atone; Thou must save, and Thou alone.
Words and Prayers of Confession
In this fourth week of Lent, we are seeking God to fill our city with people who bring peace. Read with me God's promise in Isaiah 33:5-8:

Beau:  The LORD...will fill Zion with justice and righteousness. He will be the sure foundation for your times, a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge.
All:  The fear of the LORD is the key to this treasure.
Beau:Look, their brave men cry aloud in the streets; the envoys of peace weep bitterly...The treaty is broken, its witnesses are despised, no one is respected.  This is the Word of the Lord. 
All:  It is true.

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

Beau:  Just and loving God, those who pray for peace in this world are sorrowful to the point of weeping because we are always missing something. King Jesus, we ask You to overflow our city from the reservoirs of peace that fill heaven. Cause us to live in a holy fear that unlocks your blessings in our homes, workplaces and neighborhoods. Fill our  minds with knowledge. Fill our hearts with wisdom. Fill our agendas with redemption. And fill Greater Binghamton and Ngasyak with peace like a river.

Let's sing this song as a prayer that rises like incense to God's throne..

Song: Like Incence / Sometimes By Step,  a song by Brooke Ligertwood joined with and classic chorus by the late Rich Mullins. 
All Your ways are loving and are faithful
Your road is narrow but Your burden light
Because You gladly lean to lead the humble,
I shall gladly kneel to leave my pride.
Congregational Prayer
 Let's pray from the April 3 entry in Seek God for the City prayer book. You can also follow along on the screen.

Kendra:  Our Lord Jesus, we weep with You as You gaze upon our city. We have been blinded to how we can work with God in order to walk with God, in full-blown city-wide peace.
Men:  We pray for Jesus to open our eyes to how far we are from God's intentions.
Kendra: And we pray for hearts like His to grieve the daily devastation of our peace-deprived lives.
Women:  We agree and we pray that God will reveal how to give and live in peace to family members, neighbors, and co-workers.
Kendra:  We take You at Your Word that You are mighty to save and that You, Jesus, are the author of salvation who has conquered the grave. We trust You to hear and respond to our prayers for peace. 
 All:  Amen.

Let's praise this Christ who rose and conquered the grave!

Song: Mighty to Save,  written by Reuben Morgan and Ben Fielding. 

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.

This Sunday the fourth Sunday of Lent, and the twenty-fourth 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 John taught us from the Gospel accounts of Jesus words and actions during His ministry on the earth.  Through the altercation between Legion inhabiting the demoniac of iGarasene in the Gospel of Mark, we learn that spiritual warfar is a normative practice in the lives of Christ's disciples.  The text this week also covers Jesus' masterful and astonishing Sermon on the Mount as well as what the Church as come to know as the Lord's Prayer (which might be better entitled The Disciples' Prayer)

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

Song: Words to Build a Life On,  by Mike Crawford, worship leader at Jacob's Well in Kansas City.  The worship team prepared this powerful re-telling of the Sermon on the Mount to sing as a blessing over our community.  You can hear the song and read the lyrics here.

 Congregational Prayer of Response: Pastor John led us in the Lord's Prayer.
Benediction:  The April 3 entry in Seek God for the City encouraged us to pray for government leaders.  We were blessed and sent out to be a blessing.

Participating in a weekly blog carnival, "Sunday Set Lists", at
Also, linking with Graceful this week.
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