- Officiant: Fr. Dave (me)
- Preacher: Fr. Dennett
- Music: Tom leading a team of 3 (2 vocals, 1 acoustic guitar, 1 drummer)
- Scripture: Bill (Exodus 20:1-21 and Psalm 19), Dcn. Andrea (John 2:13-22),
Songs of Praise
- Come Ye Sinners
- This is Amazing Grace
- Good, Good Father
- Great Are You Lord
- When I Survey (Wonderful Cross)
- Jesus Messiah
- Jesus, We Love You
- Bless the Lord (10,000 Reasons)
Collect for the Day
Heavenly Father, you made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you: Look upon the heartfelt desires of your humble servants, and stretch forth the strong hand of your Majesty to be our defense against our enemies; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, world without end. Amen.
I opened (within 3 minutes of 10am!) with a welcome. Weather or other factors made it one of those days where many people seemed to be running a few minutes behind. We started closer to on time than usual. In my welcome, I wanted to express that God was present and would move in our midst with power, and that we were mighty in him no matter our numbers. We continued with the Opening Acclamation and Collect for Purity, and proceeded to the Decalogue. The music team was standing with the rest of the congregation (instead of on stage) until the end of the Comfortable Words. While that left a silence between the Comfortable Words and the songs of praise beginning, it also gave opportunity for that word of grace to sink in deep in the silence.
The music progressed through the Gospel message, echoing the rhythm of the Comfortable Words–invitation (Come Ye Sinners), declaration of redemption (This is Amazing Grace), God’s saving nature (Good, Good Father), and us responding with praise for His constant advocacy (Great Are You Lord). At the conclusion of the song, there was a pause and waiting on the Spirit. Then a message in tongues was given. I waited on the interpretation and when nothing was forthcoming, I shared a Scripture and word expanding on it: 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12 was the Scripture. The message called us to not be caught up in our own individual encounter with God, but to bring one another to God and pray for His work in our brothers and sisters. I had the congregation take one another’s hands and led a prayer based on that Scripture. We closed with the Collect for the Day.
After the kids were blessed and dismissed to Church School, the readings began. The recitation of the Law coming on the heels of praying it already just a few minutes prior had the Law of God laying heavy throughout the sanctuary. So, when Fr. Dennett began preaching on that passage, it seemed the hearts of the congregation were well-prepared to hear it as he revealed the uses of the Law–to convict us of sin and to restrain evil–and how the Gospel addresses those through the Cross and Resurrection and future return of Jesus. Fr. Dennett also laid out Calvin’s third use of the Law–the guidance of disciples, showing us the things that the Holy Spirit will transform our affections and minds and wills to pursue. The note of grace in this: that Jesus has answered the Law, and that we are being changed, was a word of comfort for the congregation.
As we proceeded through the Creed, the announcements, and to the celebration of Holy Communion, there was a shift that occurred, as least with me. I’m not sure that the rest of the congregation felt it. Since hearing the Gospel preached at St. Andrews nearly 9 years ago, I’ve not been comfortable with the third use of the Law, especially in preaching. Even when it is preached as graciously as Fr. Dennett presented it, it has a way of making every experience of Christian life seem like an expression of obligation, not the thanksgiving of a liberated people. It is a joy to participate in the Good Shepherd feeding his people. And that joy is a launchpad to freedom–a freedom in the grace that has silenced the voice of the Law. To quote an old Derek Webb song, “Should the Law against her roar, Jesus’ blood still speaks with pow’r/ All her debt’s been cast on Me, she must and shall go free.”