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[Worship Practice] 11th Sunday after Pentecost

Liturgical Leadership

  • Officiant: Cn. Dave (me)
  • Preacher: Stevan
  • Music: Stevan leading a team (vocals, guitars, drums)
  • Scripture: Michael (Revelation 2:18-29 and Psalm 78:1-13), Dcn. Laura (John 6:24-35)

Set List

Songs of Praise

  • Indescribable
  • He is Exalted
  • All Creatures of our God and King
  • Agnus Dei

Offertory

  • More than Conquerors

Communion

  • Glorify Thy Name
  • King of Glory

Dismissal

  • Glorious Day

Collect for the Day

Almighty and merciful God, it is only by your grace that your faithful people offer you true and laudable service: Grant that we may run without stumbling to obtain your heavenly promises; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

I must announce that I’ve reconciled myself to the fact that Church of the Savior will always start 5-10 minutes after the hour. Always. What is one to do? Lead as well as we can anyway, seems to be the answer.

“Tired” seemed to be a characteristic for our leadership coming in yesterday morning. In the group was a number of people who certainly have good reasons (new baby, or “flexible schedule” job, or a lot of recent travel or out-of-town people visiting). So, as we prayed before the service, I was conscious of our need for God and grateful for the opportunity for us to acknowledge that He’s the one who does the heavy lifting in our worship anyway. So, we clung to his promises.

I welcomed the congregation with “It is good to be together in the house of the Lord.” I spoke of expectations and, responding to some reading I’ve done recently, rather than speaking of inviting God into what we were doing, I felt it was more truthful to affirm that God has already been present, and had been preparing both the space and us for what He would do in revealing Himself in our midst. We began the service with the usual acclamation, the summary of the Law, confession, absolution and the Comfortable Words before responding with songs of praise.

The Songs of Praise thematically focused on the exaltation and glory of Jesus the King. The awareness of God’s presence that we began with intensified as we declared His kingship, glory, worthiness, power, and grace. Some of us were driven to our knees in adoration of Jesus. It concluded with silence–stillness and worship at the glorious, gracious God we have been delivered by. That silence was only broken to pray our collect for the day, acknowledging again our need for God to act in us in order for anything to happen through us.

The reading of the Scriptures was similarly oriented to acknowledging God’s glory and judgment, and the Gospel story of Jesus’ rebuke of selfish pursuits of God, with the gracious invitation to take of the Bread of Heaven, Jesus Himself, translated that encounter of God’s presence into terms of Law and Gospel. This was a preparation for Stevan’s preaching from the the letter to the Church in Thyatira, a congregation filled with compromise of the heart, but exhortation for the faithful. The Law was heavy for those who were following false teaching, but the Gospel (“I lay no other burden on you!”) was gentle and comforting. Jesus is coming, and thank God, our call to faithfulness is to hold on.

It was difficult to just continue with the Creed at that point. I sometimes feel we need to sit with God’s Word, and allow some kind of spontaneous response, but the nature of the sermon itself, which so effectively communicated Law and Gospel to the individuals and community in our parish, would have had us sitting in silence. Maybe that’s the right response. We continued with the Prayers of the People, announcements (very briefly), and entered offertory and the ministry of the Table. We were blessed to have many of our seminarians returned, and to welcome them at the Table was a joyful occasion.

At the benediction, I felt prompted to give a Scriptural exhortation from 1 Corinthians 15:58, “Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” The assurance of God’s presence among us as we went out felt needful as we departed, so I delivered this Scripture promise and pronounced God’s blessing on the people. “One day He’s coming, oh Glorious Day!”

 

 

 

PS: All this, and we concluded 15 minutes earlier than the congregation is accustomed…God only knows how, because we didn’t cut anything. AND a number of the congregation stayed longer to fellowship and talk following the service.

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[Worship Practice] 9th Sunday after Pentecost

Liturgical Leadership

  • Officiant: Cn. Dave (me)
  • Preacher: Fr. Dennett
  • Music: Stevan leading a small team (vocals, guitar, drums)
  • Scripture: Martha (Revelation 2:1-11 and Psalm 22:22-31), Dcn. Laura (Mark 6:30-44)

Set List

Songs of Praise

  • O Worship the King
  • He Reigns
  • Reign in Me Again
  • It is Well (Through It All)

Offertory

  • Royal Blood

Communion

  • Jesus, All For Jesus

Dismissal

  • O Church Arise

Collect for the Day

O God, you declare your almighty power chiefly in showing mercy and pity: Grant us the fullness of your grace, that we, running to obtain your promises, may become partakers of your heavenly treasure; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Note: I will have to keep this short as I am writing from my phone. My computer logic board is shorted out so I need to wait before I can get it repaired.

This Sunday marked an important development in the life of Church of the Savior. They have worshipped in the current building for 14 years–and through that time have been rehabbing the building. The work began to slow down after a decade of work and the sanctuary remained unfinished as we worshipped week after week. Through one of my recruits and leaders in the Village Church–now a member of the vestry–and through several prophetic words and praying Scripture (especially Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi), the parish set its sights on completing the work of the sanctuary. We raised some funds, had the drywall finished and prepped. This past week, the youth mission team from St. John’s, Franklin, painted the sanctuary walls, including an accent. It’s a tremendous difference and it was very encouraging for the parish to have a worship space that can welcome others more hospitable as we worship God.

Again, true to COTS tradition, we started our pre-worship prayers at 10:01 and began the service at 10:05. The opening dialogues and praise focused us on our unworthy state before the King, and the glorious Kingdom He is making of us anyway. When we finished “Through it All”, one of the music team spontaneously sparked singing the final two verses of “It is Well” (My sin, O the bliss of this glorious thought… & And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight…). The reverent silence that followed was restful and confident. It enabled our hearts to be prepared for the collect–one of the Cranmer originals that declares that the primary demonstration of the King’s power is mercy and pity. That collect followed me through the rest of the service, and I wonder if it was on others’ minds as well.

The reading of the Scriptures proceeded as normal and Fr. Dennett preached through the first two letters to the churches in Revelation–highlighting the dangers of putting away our first love and of tribulation and suffering, but that in either case, looking to Jesus–to the King present with his Church and who holds authority over her and is sovereign over the world–is our rescue. There’s no room for legalism in these exhortations.

I offered the recitation or the Creed as a beginning point of repentance or as an anchor (whether you were listening from Ephesus or Smyrna) as we remembered the work of God. The prayers of the people were unusually brief, although there were a number of intercession offered. In announcements, our Junior Warden shared a summary of the mission work of St. John’s and upcoming projects for us.

Repentance and Renewal were both themes of “Royal Blood”, which allowed the sermon to continue through into the ministry of the Table. As we prayed and received the Holy Communion, it was definitely a time of submitting ourselves to the King–receiving from His Table and not trusting our own efforts and works, nor our ability to hang in there. The closing song’s marshaling call to mission was well-received as a result.

[Worship Practice] The 7th Sunday after Pentecost

Liturgical Leadership

  • Officiant: Cn. Dave (me)
  • Preacher: Stevan
  • Music: Dcn. Ben leading a small team (vocals, keys, acoustic guitar)
  • Scripture: Martha (Revelation 1:1-8 and Psalm 123), Dcn. Andrea (Mark 6:1-6)

Set List

Songs of Praise

  • Blessed Be Your Name
  • The Lion and the Lamb
  • Great Are You Lord
  • Before the Throne of God Above

Offertory

  • Search my Heart

Communion

  • To Him Who Sits on the Throne
  • 10,000 Reasons

Dismissal

  • How Great Thou Art

Collect for the Day

Grant us, Lord, we pray, the spirit to think and do always those things that are right, that we, who cannot exist without you, may by you be enabled to live according to your will; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

One of the most incredible things about worship and leading the liturgy are the things you can’t plan for: the way that the music leader has been attentive to the Holy Spirit, and to the Scriptures, selecting songs which will directly draw people to the voice of God’s Word. When the preacher is able to intensify those themes, proclaiming the revelation of Jesus Christ and draping all of the hearers’ world in the mystery of the Scriptures. When the call and prayer for awareness of Jesus’ presence in the midst of life closes that sermon and characterizes the tone of the prayers of the people, and you are able to enter the ministry of Holy Communion–that very sacrament of Jesus’ presence–with that, it’s the gentle movements of the still, small, voice of God. The Lord was gracious and gentle in His revelation of Himself to us yesterday, and the only response I think we could appropriately offer is gratitude.

[Worship Practice] 4th Sunday after Pentecost

Liturgical Leadership

  • Officiant: Cn. Dave (me)
  • Preacher: Fr. Dennett
  • Music: Tom and Kelli leading as small team (vocals, acoustic guitar, drums)
  • Scripture: Pat (2 Timothy 3:10-17 and Psalm 119 105-112), Dcn. Laura (Mark 4:26-35)

Set List

Songs of Praise

  • Our God
  • Did You Feel the Mountains Tremble
  • I See Heaven
  • What a Beautiful Name

Offertory

  • There is a Fountain

Communion

  • O Come to the Altar
  • Lord, I Need You

Dismissal

  • Days of Elijah

Collect for the Day

O Lord, from whom comes all good things; grant us, your humble servants, the inspiration to always think and do those things which are good, and by your merciful guiding we may perform the same; through Jesus Christ our lord. Amen.

We are rapidly approaching the close of our series on hearing God. After those of us providing leadership for Sunday morning prayed together, Tom–our music team leader for the day–pointed out that there was this tremendous peace present in the room. He was right. The presence of God’s peace in our midst before we even began to worship, was a reminder of healing, of the fruit of hearing from God, of being a people prepared to worship God. I greeted everyone and called attention to God’s presence and the ways that God was present to move in our lives. We proceeded through the opening confession, dialogues, and songs of praise.

During the time of listening for the Holy Spirit following the songs of praise, I was led to recount Jesus’ first proclamation of the Kingdom in the synagogue from Isaiah 61–especially highlighting the anointing, and that Jesus has shared that anointing with us by baptism. So, God was calling us to walk in that anointing–to preach Good News to the poor, to heal the sick, to set the oppressed free, to liberate the captives, and to declare the year of the Lord’s favor. Fr. Dennett’s sermon focused on hearing God through the commands and insights of Holy Scripture–something we also have by way of the Holy Spirit. Following the Creed and Prayers of the People, we had a testimony delivered by a longtime parishioner, Dan, interviewed by our founding rector, Pastor Joe, which highlighted the mercy of God in revealing himself in the Scriptures and the community of believers hearing the Scriptures. The peace and joy of the testimony resonated with what God had been doing in the service. And that carried through our celebration of Holy Communion and dismissal, as the anointed ones in Christ were sent out.

[Worship Practice] 2nd Sunday after Pentecost

Liturgical Leadership

  • Officiant: Cn. Dave (me)
  • Preacher: Stevan
  • Music: Stevan leading a small team (vocals, acoustic guitar, other guitar, drums)
  • Scripture: Michael (2 Corinthians 4:1-12 and Psalm 81), Cn. Dave (Mark 2:23-28)

Set List

Songs of Praise

  • Come People of the Risen King
  • Trading My Sorrows
  • Leaning on the Everlasting Arms
  • Our Father

Offertory

  • God, Make Us Your Family

Communion

  • The Church’s One Foundation
  • Communion Hymn (Behold the Lamb)

Dismissal

  • Give Us Clean Hands

Collect for the Day

O God, the protector of all those who trust in you, without whom nothing is strong, nothing is holy: Increase and multiply upon us your mercy, that, with you as our ruler and guide, we may so pass through things temporal that we lose not the things eternal; grant this, heavenly Father, for the sake of your Son Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Ordinary Time typically brings a loss of focus for many people. When the Church is not commemorating any specific event, after the expansive and all-involved drama of Advent through Pentecost and Trinity Sunday, it is easy to wonder what we’re doing when we get together. The return to the liturgy of the Anglican Church in North America, and the rhythms that go with that signal that a new season has arrived. That effect is slightly delayed for us at Church of the Savior, because we are continuing our series on listening to the voice of God.

That life of the Church is actually the core of Ordinary Time. That we were singing about what it is to be God’s people, and to have that life: the great exchange of the fallen life in the world for the joy of salvation drew us in to that place where we were aware of one another. The prophetic exhortation I believe God gave me to deliver following that singing pointed to the great exchange that Jesus made for us, and the things we are invited to bring together and trade out–with a God who is much better than the god of the “prosperity gospel.” I closed with the Collect for the Day, which appropriately asks God that “we may so pass through things temporal that we lose not the things eternal.”

Appropriately, Steven’s message was about listening to God speak through the counsel of other believers. We stepped into that place of learning to improv in this time beyond the Scripture’s, waiting for the return of Christ and the restoration of all things. Sure, we’ve got a mission, but we’ve also got day-to-day decisions to make. Stevan dove into wisdom, and circumstances, and having the awareness to pay attention to what God is saying in order to bring life to us.

We continued with the Creed, and the prayers of the people. We recently switched to a version of the Prayers offered in the ACNA Renewed Ancient Rite, and encouraging people to offer their own exhortations in connection with the biddings. This seems to work really well for us, and gives a greater sense of cohesion to our corporate prayers. I flew briefly through the announcements, and then we entered the time of Holy Communion. The worship we offered in receiving from the Table, and singing these words of unity in the songs “The Church’s One Foundation” and “Behold the Lamb” fed into our dismissal with an awareness of our need for God’s grace on us as we dispersed: “O God, let us be/ a generation that seeks/ that seeks your face, O God of Jacob.”

Amen. Let us be such, O God of Jacob.

[Worship Practice] Pentecost

Liturgical Leadership

  • Officiant: Cn. Dave (me)
  • Preacher: Fr. Dennett
  • Music: Tom and Kelli leading a small team (vocals, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, drums)
  • Scripture: Candy (Acts 2:1-11 and Psalm 104:24-35), Dcn. Andrea (John 20:19-23)

Set List

Songs of Praise

  • How Great is our God
  • Freedom
  • Better is One Day
  • All Who are Thirsty

Offertory

  • Holy Spirit (Your Presence)

Communion

  • Let Us Break Bread Together
  • Freedom Reigns

Dismissal

  • Friend of God

Collect for the Day

Almighty God, on this day, through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, you revealed the way of eternal life to every race and nation: Pour out this gift anew, that by the preaching of the Gospel your salvation may reach to the ends of the earth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.Amen.

I love Pentecost. As someone from a Pentecostal background, the fact that the Church must remember and commemorate the wildness of the Holy Spirit on an annual basis. It’s the last Sunday of the year that Church of the Savior worships with the Kenyan liturgy. I led the celebration (and we managed to start a few minutes late per COTS tradition–I *really* do try to get started at 10am!). I invited the people, reminded them of the celebration of Pentecost (in case the red frontal and table-covering weren’t obvious enough), and spoke about my expectations for the Holy Spirit’s presence and ministry in our midst.

We began with the Pentecost Acclamation, proceeded to the Collect for Purity and in place of the Confession of Sin, Deacon Laura led the Litany for Mission after which we worshipped though the songs of praise. Pentecost has a thoroughly missional-emphasis in COTS’ liturgical praxis, and the worship reflects the need for the Spirit that God’s people have. One of the things I thought of as soon as I knew we were singing “How Great is our God” is wishing I had known ahead to introduce the Hebrew version of the chorus. I sang it anyway, but no way the congregation caught it.

In the silence following, there was a prayer for more of the Holy Spirit, a reading of Psalm 84, an invitation to trust in God to heal, to save, to empower, and fill. I felt that I received a prophetic word, so I shared about the psalmist not seeing the better day that he proclaimed in Psalm 84, but that “Today is that day, the day of salvation, of healing, of rescue, to be made new.” Drawing from Isaiah 61, I shared that I believed God was inviting us to trade our sorrow for joy, our sin for righteousness, our anxiety for his peace, etc. I concluded with the collect for the day.

After praying God’s Spirit would be stirred in “the sons and daughters”, I dismissed the kids to their classes, and Candy read the first part of the Pentecost story from Acts. Appropriately, we prayed Psalm 104 portion antiphonally, beginning with the women. Deacon Andrea read the Johannine Pentecost (which, oddly, figured into my sermon last week). Fr. Dennett’s sermon was a teaching on the prophetic/revelatory gifts of the Holy Spirit and how She speaks in the Church (Scripture, tongues/interpretation, dreams/visions, prophecy). There were two testimonies in the course of the sermon.

At this point, running long, we proceeded through the Creed, and the prayers of the people, which included another series of prayers for mission and evangelization and for the Gospel to reach into the areas sin and death have broken down (read: everything). After several extended extemporaneous intercessions, I concluded the prayers, and Fr. Dennett proceeded with the announcements. At the conclusion of the announcements, I encouraged people to receive prayer during Communion for the baptism of the Holy Spirit and delivered the offertory sentence. The time of Holy Communion went according to the norms, and in place of the Post-Communion Prayer, I asked, “Are there any who have not come to the Lord’s Table?” The congregation’s response is the numbers of unreached and unconverted across the world. When we finished the list, I asked, “Who will go and invite them to this Banquet?” The congregation said “We will go, with our lives, our service, our support” (or something very close to that). It’s a powerful missional commitment to close with Pentecost. With that fresh from their lips, I declared God’s blessing, and we sang and dismissed…about 20 minutes later than almost any service….and I wasn’t even able to leave the church building for another 40 minutes. Quite the day.

Come, Holy Spirit!

[Worship Practice] 6th Sunday of Easter

Liturgical Leadership

  • Officiant: Cn. Dave (me)
  • Preacher: Stevan
  • Music: Stevan leading a small team (vocals, acoustic guitar)
  • Scripture: Martha (1 John 4:7-21 and Psalm 33), Cn. Dave (John 15:9-17)

Set List

Songs of Praise

  • Open Up the Heavens
  • You Never Let Go
  • Power of Your Love
  • Tis So Sweet (To Trust in Jesus)

Offertory

  • Show Me Your Ways

Communion

  • The More I Seek You
  • Word of God Speak

Dismissal

  • Great Are You Lord

Collect for the Day

O God, you have prepared for those who love you such good things as surpass our understanding: Pour into our hearts such love towards you, that we, loving you in all things and above all things, may obtain your promises, which exceed all that we can desire; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Rogation Sunday is one of those bits about the liturgical year I confess I don’t fully understand. At least it’s still Easter–THAT I understand. We continued to worship according the to the use of the Kenyan liturgy.  I gathered the congregation with a few things from my Pentecostal background–expecting congregational responses to “Good morning” and, what finally worked, “This is the day that the Lord has made!” responded to with “Let us rejoice and be glad in it!” I invited us to acknowledge God’s presence, and to be confident that He was at work among us and to break barriers and bring renewal. We moved through the opening acclamation and songs of praise with ease–with a building awareness of the Holy Spirit’s brooding presence. Following the songs of praise, we had silence for an extended period when Pastor Joe (our founding pastor) offered thanks to God for His work.  By the time I approached the lectern again, most of the congregation was seated. Recognizing the Presence, I opted not to tell them to stand for the collect. Many of them stood when we began praying the collect for the day.

The kids were invited up and prayed for and dismissed to their class. Martha read the epistle reading from 1 John, prefacing it with a testimony of how God had been moving in her life in the week before to remind her of His loving presence and the providential circumstances that she would be reading about God’s love for the worship. We prayed Psalm 33 responsively. Since our deacons were otherwise occupied (children and nursery), I read the Gospel. Stevan came up to teach on barriers to hearing from God. He began with a confession and asking the congregation’s forgiveness for not keeping a commitment he had made. And when he started to continue, Pastor Joe stood up, and asked that we receive Stevan’s apology and demonstrate our forgiveness as a congregation. It was a beautiful moment. Stevan continued and it was evident that he wasn’t quite teaching in the way he had prepared to (as it didn’t match the outline provided, strictly) but it was an anointed teaching that called us to recognize that God’s silence often stems from (1) not asking, or asking with wrong motivations (James 4:-3), (2) presumption (Numbers 14:39-45), and not listening to the last thing God told us (Isaiah 1:15-16; Isaiah 30:15).

To conclude, Stevan invited us to take some time to listen–to repent of where we did not obey God’s call and to ask “What’s next?” The music team returned to the stage and sang “The More I Seek You” as the congregation engaged in that time. If I thought the Spirit’s presence couldn’t be heavier, I was proved wrong. I was reticent to approach and continue with the Creed, and the Prayers of the People, but it needed to happen. There was an energy to those acts of faith.

At announcements, Fr. Dennett interviewed a parishioner about a music ministry time she had initiated with others at a local assisted living facility that had drawn over 40 residents. We then celebrated Pastor Joe’s birthday, and prayed for him as he continues in ministry. The legacy of Pastor Joe’s vision to reach people who are so often forgotten has shaped the ministry and heart of Church of the Savior in an indelible way. When we finished the offertory, I addressed the congregation with the reminder of the invitation we had received from Stevan to ask God “What’s next?” and further encouraged us to remember that God does not call us to what He won’t enable–and that what we receive at the Table is strength for whatever is next. My experience of celebrating that Holy Communion was a keen awareness of our congregation being caught up in the presence of the heavenly worship.

As we sang “Great Are You Lord” at the conclusion, I could see the Spirit working, and I think Stevan caught it, as well, because he drew the song out as much as could be done reasonably. The Pentecostal pastor in me would have loved nothing better than to invite people forward to pray and spend time in God’s presence at “the altar” but the way “coffee hour” is done in the rear of the sanctuary makes that quite impossible. It’s something to wrestle with–attending to the move of the Spirit, and honoring the liturgy and freedom of those who are released from what is going on. How do we as Anglicans disciple into that kind of space? How can we make room for it in our churches?