04.20.14 Worship Confessional

hope“Easter was when Hope in person surprised the whole world by coming forward from the future into the present…Jesus’s resurrection is the beginning of God’s new project not to snatch people away from earth to heaven but to colonize earth with the life of heaven.”(Surprised by Hope, NT Wright)

Yesterday we concluded our series, “Marks of a Missional Community” by exploring hope. In summary: a missional community is a community of hope. And hope has a name – Jesus.

Let me share one aspect of our liturgy that I felt was particularly potent. We put together a number of elements around Matt Maher’s song, “Christ is Risen.” We began with a reading from 1 Corinthians 15: and then after the second verse and chorus of the song, a worship leader read a portion of the Easter Homily by St. John Chrysostom. Powerful words of victory:

Let no one grieve at his poverty,
for the universal kingdom has been revealed.

Let no one mourn that he has fallen again and again;
for forgiveness has risen from the grave.

Let no one fear death, for the Death of our Savior has set us free.
He has destroyed it by enduring it.
He destroyed Hell when He descended into it.
He put it into an uproar even as it tasted of His flesh.

Isaiah foretold this when he said,
“You, O Hell, have been troubled by encountering Him below.”
Hell was in an uproar because it was done away with.
It was in an uproar because it is mocked.
It was in an uproar, for it is destroyed.
It is in an uproar, for it is annihilated.
It is in an uproar, for it is now made captive.

Hell took a body, and discovered God.
Hell took earth, and encountered Heaven.
Hell took what it saw, and was overcome by what it did not see.

O death, where is thy sting?
O Hell, where is thy victory?

Christ is Risen, and you, o death, are annihilated!
Christ is Risen, and the evil ones are cast down!
Christ is Risen, and the angels rejoice!
Christ is Risen, and life is liberated!

Christ is Risen, and the tomb is emptied of its dead;
for Christ having risen from the dead,
is become the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep.

To Him be Glory and Power forever and ever. Amen!

Here is our complete worship flow:

  • Song of Hope (Robbie Seay Band)
  • Video: Hope Is Here (Floodgate Productions)
  • He Is Risen (Paul Baloche)
  • Scripture Reading: 1 Corinthians 15:12-22
  • Christ Is Risen (Matt Maher)
  • Announcements and Offering
  • Message (A Community of Hope)
  • Mighty to Save (Hillsong)

You can learn what other communities of faith experienced this past weekend in worship at The Worship Community.

Stay connected…

04.13.14 Worship Confessional

palmsYesterday was Palm Sunday and we continued our series “Marks of a Missional Community.” Here is the sixth mark we explored: A missional community orients its life around the new social order inaugurated by Jesus called the kingdom of God.

While preparing for my message, I noticed that in Matthew’s Gospel this potent text comes almost immediately before the Palm Sunday narrative:

25 Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant,and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:25-28)

Right before Jesus reveals himself as the King, he teaches that his kingdom operated with a very different value system than that of the world. The new social order that Jesus inaugurated is one marked by humility and service, rather than powering up on people and using them for one’s own advantage.

As you travel through Holy Week, what would it look like for you to choose the pathway of humility, sacrifice and service?

Here is our complete worship flow:

  • Our God Saves (Paul Baloche)
  • Palm Sunday Video (SermonSpice)
  • Hosanna (Paul Baloche)
  • Here Is Our King (David Crowder Band)
  • Because of Your Love (Paul Baloche)
  • Prayers of Confession
  • Simplicity (Rend Collective)
  • Welcoming Covenant Partners
  • Announcements and Offerings
  • Message (A New Social Order)
  • Mighty to Save (Hillsong)

You can learn what other communities of faith experienced this past weekend in worship at The Worship Community.

Stay connected…

04.06.14 Worship Confessional

diversity_signifier_dnaYesterday as we continued our series, “Marks of a Missional Community,” we explored the reality that we are a gifted and empowered. A missional community is a community of men and women, boys and girls, gifted and empowered by the Holy Spirit with diverse abilities that enable it to accomplish the work of God in the world today.

The Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 12:

“There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. ” (1 Corinthians 12:4-7)

Did you notice how many times Paul used the word, “different?” And how many times Paul used the word, “same?” We are one, but not the same.

Here are a few questions for you to consider this week:

  1. What gifts, capacities and abilities has God entrusted to you? How are you using them to help our community of faith become everything God desires us to be? How available are you to support the common good through your giftedness?
  2. What is missing in your life? Where do you need the support of others? What is your level of vulnerability and what is one step you could take this week to let others know that you need them?

Here is our complete worship flow:

  • Hearts Start Beating (Tim Neufield version)
  • Call to Worship: Psalm 117
  • O Praise Him (David Crowder Band)
  • Our God Is Mercy (Brenton Brown)
  • Video – Psalm 51 (The Work of the People)
  • Unison Prayer of Confession
  • Shadows (David Crowder Band)
  • Litany of Prayer
  • Simplicity (Rend Collective)
  • Announcements and Offering
  • Message (A Gifted and Empowered Community)
  • Reprise: Hearts Start Beating

You can learn what other communities of faith experienced this past weekend in worship at The Worship Community.

Sty connected…

Reflections on Noah – The Movie

MV5BMjAzMzg0MDA3OF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNTMzOTYwMTE@._V1_SY317_CR0,0,214,317_My wife and I saw Noah the Movie last night. This film has stirred up quite the controversy and I knew that my simple Facebook status update, “Seeing Noah…” would raise questions in people’s minds.  While I do not have the time or inclination to do an in-depth review and critique of the film (there are plenty of those out there), I thought it might be helpful to share two points of reflection on Noah – The Movie.

1) Noah as Art – This is a well made film and worth seeing. Darren Aronofsky and Ari Handel have crafted a script that tells a powerful story. The themes of evil, unrighteousness, justice, judgement, mercy and love are universal storylines and the film drew me into the epic questions in a strong way. As my friend John Hall suggested, you should see the film and simply let it wash over you. The portrayal of human brutality was difficult at times to watch; the scenes of loyalty and love were profound and moving as well.

Noah is a well made and at times, beautiful film, but it is far from perfect. I am not a sci-fi fan and while it was an bold move to cast the giants as Transformer-like creatures, I found them unimaginative and boring. While I am sure that some demographic group will appreciate the battle scene between the Watchers and Tubal-Cain’s forces as the rain began, I felt like it missed the gravity and horror of having the doors of the ark shut before your eyes, condemning you to a sure and  certain death. As well, for a big budget like this, the computer generated animals didn’t cut it. Or as my wife pointed how, by the end of the film, Russell Crowe’s Noah looks like he has been through hell and back while his wife looks, well like Jennifer Connolly.

2) Noah As Theological Work – At best, the movie is loosely shaped around the arc (totally intended) of the biblical narrative found in Genesis 6-9, loosely being the operative word. If you go into the film thinking you are going to witness a literal retelling of the Noah narrative based upon the Scriptures, you will be deeply disappointed and perhaps even angry.

In an interview with Paste, co-writer Ari Handel described the creative process that he and Aronofsky took when writing the script as follows:

Paste: I started out saying the film was not a retelling, but more of a re-imagining. But I eventually landed on the label “a meditation.” Then I read an interview with Darren where he talked about seeing the film squarely in the tradition of midrash, in Jewish thought. That seems to me a perfect description.

Handel: Yes. The exact meaning of “midrash” is complicated, but it basically is commentary. In the Jewish tradition, you look at a text in the Bible, and there are clues there, subtle details that raise questions. And they’re there for a reason, the thinking goes. They’re there to make you ask those questions. They’re there for more stories to tell, and to invent, and to imagine, that would shed light on those questions. And these midrash interpretations aren’t meant to be absolutely, exactly what happened. They’re meant to be a hypothetical, what may have happened, to illuminate an aspect of the story, and those take place in dialogue with other midrash and other commentaries. It all takes place within the grounding of not contradicting the text in any way, but within that context it’s looking for other interpretations and trying to understand things more deeply. We took that pretty seriously.

Let’s be honest: there are plenty of places in the biblical narrative where the imagination could have a field day. But when Handel suggests that they went to other interpretations to try and understand the Noah narrative, he wasn’t kidding. Think extra-biblical content, apocryphal material, non-biblical material, insights from Kaballah and even Gnostic mythology. (If you are interested in this line of critique, check out Brain Mattson’s detailed post, Sympathy for the Devil).  If you are fearful of being exposed to this kind of material or think that viewing a film filled with syncretistic imagery will tank your Orthodox faith system, I would say do not see the film.

Two closing quotes and some questions. The first from Wes Sames at Precipice Media who writes:

Brothers and Sisters in Christ, and any other descendants of Noah who may read this, I firmly believe that the Noah movie is a beautiful, useful movie. It is not truth, but it was written and directed by atheists and is presented as a mythological epic, so can Christians truly expect perfect truth from it? While it does not present a true view of God, it presents a true view of human nature, and for that reason I am happy to support it as an enterprise and a work of art. It constructively adds to the ongoing conversation between the church and the world at large.

And a final word from Alissa Wilkerson’s thoughtful review in Christianity’s Today:

Noah is not poorly made or shoddy. It is not political. It is not evangelistic. It is not a theological treatise. Rather, it’s a movie that approaches the level of “good art.” It asks big questions. It explores concepts like grace, justice, pride, guilt, and love. It respects its source material and respects the power of human imagination. It takes a sober look at the evil in the human heart. That is the sort of movie worth watching.

Have you seen the movie? If so, what are your thoughts? If not, will you see Noah? Why or why not?

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03.30.14 Worship Confessional

priesthoodThis morning as we continued our series, “Marks of a Missional Community,” we explored the reality that as followers of Jesus we are a called to be a royal priesthood. I love reflecting on the words of the Apostle Peter as he addressed our identity as the people of God:

“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” (1 Peter 2:9-10).

These words flow from an understanding of the the Old Testament and the belief that God’s intention was that Israel as a nation would serve God as a community of priests. In Exodus 19 we read:

Then Moses went up to God, and the Lord called to him from the mountain and said, “This is what you are to say to the descendants of Jacob and what you are to tell the people of Israel: ‘You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites.” (Exodus 19:3-6)

Douglas Stuart, in his commentary on the book of Exodus, outlined four ways that Israel served (or potentially could have fulfilled their calling):

Live (Incarnate) – Israel would be an example to the people of other nations, who would see its holy beliefs and actions and be impressed enough to want to know personally the same God the Israelites knew.

Proclaim (Invite) – Israel would proclaim the truth of God and invite people from other nations to accept him in faith as shown by confession of belief in him and acceptance of his covenant.

Intercede – Israel would intercede for the rest of the world by offering acceptable offerings to God (both sacrifices and right behavior) and thus ameliorate the general distance between God and humankind.

Preserve (Inscribe) – Israel would keep the promises of God, preserving his word already spoken and recording his word as it was revealed to them so that once the fullness of time had come, anyone in the whole world could promptly benefit from that great body of divinely revealed truth, that is, the Scriptures.

Lesslie Newbiggin writes: “The church gathers every Sunday, the day of resurrection and of Pentecost, to renew its participation in Christ priesthood. But the exercise of this priesthood is not within the walls of the church but in the daily business of the world. It is only in this way that the public life of the world, it’s excepted habits and assumptions, can be challenged by the gospel and brought under the searching light of the truth as it is been revealed in Jesus.”

In what ways does the church take up its’ priestly function in the world today? In what ways might we continue in the priestly tradition of incarnation, invitation, intercesstion and inscription?

Here is our complete worship flow:

  • Hearts Start Beating (Lovelite)
  • A Prayer for the Global Church
  • Our God Is Mercy (Brenton Brown)
  • A Liturgy of Confession
  • Shadows (David Crowder Band)
  • Simplicity (Rend Collective)
  • Announcements and Offering
  • Message (A Community of Priests)
  • Benediction (Matt Redman)

You can learn what other communities of faith experienced this weekend in worship at The Worship Community.

Stay connected…