08.31.14 Worship Confessional

labor-day-deals-2014-4As part of our Labor Day worship gathering, we took some time to offer up the work of our hands and hearts by using this prayer crafted by Steve Garber from the Washington Institute for Faith, Vocation and Culture:

God of heaven and earth, we pray for your kingdom to come, for your will to be done on earth as it is in heaven. Teach us to see our vocations and occupations as woven into your work in the world this week. For parents at home who care for children, for those whose labor forms our common life in this city, the nation and the world, for those who serve the marketplace of ideas and commerce, for those whose creative gifts nourish us all, for those whose callings take them into the academy, for those who long for employment that satisfies their souls and serves you, for each one we pray, asking for your great mercy. Give us eyes to see that our work is holy to you, O Lord, even as our worship this day is holy to you. In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Here s our complete worship flow;

  • All Things New (Brett Younker)
  • Our God Is Mercy (Brenton Brown)
  • Everlasting God (Brenton Brown)
  • Prayers of Confession
  • You Alone Can Rescue (Matt Redman)
  • Prayer for Vocations
  • Announcements and Offering
  • Message (The Resurrection of the Body and Life Everlasting)
  • The Apostles Creed
  • This We Believe (Hillsong)

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

My book, A Movable Feast: Worship for the other six Days is now available in both print and eBook formats. You can get your copy from Hearts and Minds Bookstore and through Amazon.

Stay connected…

Three Reasons Why I Am Going to See Gungor

gungorYes, that’s right, I am going to see Gungor when he, his wife Lisa and their band come to Pittsburgh on September 13. Yes, Gungor, the guy that has caused all the controversy in the evangelical world over the past month.

In case you missed it, early in August guitarist, songwriter Michael Gungor outlined his evolving faith and belief system in two blog posts (you can read them here and here). In response World Magazine published the post “Gungor Drifts from Biblical Orthodoxy” and the Christian Post outlined the controversy with the article, “Gungor Rattles Christian World with Revelation That They Don’t Believe the Bible Literally.”

In the post, “I Am With You,” Gungor writes:

“Do I believe God exists? Yes.
Do I believe Jesus is the Son of God? Yes.
Do I believe that Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness? Yes.
Do I believe that God literally drowned every living creature 5,000 years ago in a global flood except the ones who were living in a big boat? No, I don’t.”

The heart of the matter for Gungor is that he no longer reads the Bible literally. And in his own particular snarky way, he calls out people who do. And this has caused great consternation and conversation about whether Gungor is still in the fold of orthodoxy or not.

So in the midst of the firestorm, why am I going to see Gungor? Here are three reasons:

1) Gungor Makes Beautiful Music

Gungor is a magnificent artist. He and his band create a sonic canvas that points me toward the good, beautiful and true; more importantly, his music points me to the One who is the source of the good, beautiful and true.

2) Faith is a Journey

My experience is that faith is all about the journey. My belief system has evolved or more accurately, been formed over the past thirty years. While it may sound strange to some, I can state with certainty that I believe certain things with less certainty today than I did 5, 10 or 20 years ago; yet I would boldly proclaim that my faith today is stronger and deeper than ever before.

Gungor has been extremely open about his journey. It is evolving and being formed. He has chosen to be honest and vulnerable about his beliefs, perhaps too honest for some. My prayer is that his journey continues and that he will pursue God’s wisdom and truth in every dimension of life.

3) Christ is at the Center

As far as I can discern, Gungor still has Jesus at the center of his faith.

In 2007 Michael and Lisa were instrumental in starting a church in Denver called Bloom, a faith community that describes its mission as “cultivating gardens of resurrection in Denver.” As far as I know they are still a part of that church. This is how Bloom describes its beliefs:

“Bloom Church is a group of people in Denver Colorado who love Jesus. We’re not so big on some of the things that are often done in Jesus’ name, but Jesus… we think that he is the hope of the world. Our quest is to take Jesus – his life, his teaching, his death, his resurrection – more seriously than we take any other thing. That’s pretty much how we understand what the word ‘Christian’ means… At Bloom we have tied ourselves to the story of God found in Jesus, which makes us decidedly Christian, but we gladly welcome anybody among us regardless of gender, creed, race, sexual orientation, or any other division that we humans like to divide ourselves into. Our hope is that everyone who wanders into our community will taste the Kingdom and come to love and embrace Jesus and his story too.”

I don’t know about you, but that’s something I can get behind.

What do you think about Gungor? Would you purchase a ticket to one of his concerts? Have you removed Gungor’s music from your personal playlist or church’s setlist? Why or why not?

My book, “A Movable Feast: Worship for the Other Six Days” is now available at Amazon and from Hearts and Minds Bookstores.

Stay connected…

08.24.14 Worship Confessional

schoolhgouseThis morning we took time in our gathering to pray for all those who are involved in vocations in the field of education: students, teachers, along with administrative and supportive staff. Many in our faith community spent significant amounts of time and energy in this space and we believe that God is active in this realm and members of our community are promoting the common good and bringing the kingdom near through their endeavors.

This is the liturgy we used today:

It’s time to go back to school. Some of our students are a few days in already. A few of our students moved out to college this week. A lot of you will start classes tomorrow. And some in our community are teachers, administrators, and support staff at schools and colleges in our area. We wanted to take some time this morning to cover you all in prayer as you begin the new academic year.

God gave us the ability to learn, to study, and to grow. Education is a holy enterprise, an incredible opportunity to love the Lord our God with all our minds. As we learn about the world God created, by studying physics, spelling, biology, math, psychology, dance, softball, we are learning to delight in the God who made it all. We’re going to take some time now to pray for all our students, teachers, and administrators, and send you to school with blessing.

How many kids do we have here this morning? Stand up if you’re going to preschool or elementary school this year.

And how many middle schoolers? Stand up, please.
If you’re in high school, stand up.
If you’re in college, stand up.
If you’re pursuing a post-graduate degree, stand up.

These are our students. Let’s pray for them.

God, we thank you for the gift of curiosity, and the opportunity and ability to learn. Thank you for the chance to attend school to learn about the world you have made. We know that so many people around the world are never given the chance. Help us to be grateful. Help us to pay attention, to study hard, and to learn to love the things that you love. Go with us into the classrooms, onto the playground, and into the laboratories. Be with us as we learn multiplication tables, take spelling tests, solve equations, and do research. Enlighten us, and help us to take what we’ve learned and use it to help build your Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. We dedicate our learning to you. Amen.

Will all our teachers, administrators, and support staff, please stand up?

Let’s pray for them.

God, thank you for each of these men and women, and for the gifts you have given each of them to teach and equip our students. As they plan lessons, manage budgets, and prepare classrooms this year, guide and protect them. Give them wisdom, give them courage, and give them patience. Sometimes they don’t get to see the fruit of their labors, so I ask that you show them that they are making a difference. Give them passion and love for their students, for their subjects, and for you. In your name we pray, Amen.

Finally, please join me in praying this prayer for all the schools.

O Eternal God, bless all schools, colleges, and universities, that they may be lively centers for sound learning, new discovery, and the pursuit of wisdom; and grant that those who teach and those who learn may find you to be the source of all truth; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

How do you affirm and pray for people in their various vocations? 

Here is our complete worship flow:

  • Your Grace Is Enough (Matt Maher)
  • As It Is in Heaven (Matt Maher)
  • The Lord’s Prayer
  • A Liturgy for the Educational Dimension
  • Christ Be All Around Me (Leeland)
  • Announcements and Offering
  • The Apostles Creed
  • This We Believe (Hillsong)
  • Message (The Forgiveness of Sins)
  • The Sacrament of Communion
  • You Alone Can Rescue (Matt Redman)

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

My book, “A Movable Feast: Worship for the Other Six Days” is now available at Amazon and from Hearts and Minds Bookstores.

Stay connected…

08.17.14 Worship Confessional

comm_of_saints1Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Hebrews 12:1-3)

Yesterday we continued our series, “We Believe” by exploring the phrase, “the communion of saints.” These important words remind us that we are connected with all of God’s people from the past, present and future and that our participation in the santorum communio comes through the grace and mercy of God through Jesus Christ.

Here are some reflection questions from our worship gathering:

  • What comes to your mind when you hear the word “saint?” Do you consider yourself to be a “saint?” Why or why not?
  • Hebrews 12:1-3 mentions a great cloud of witnesses: who makes up the cloud of witnesses that surrounds your life of faith? What faithful people from the past have made an impact upon your faith? Who are the current saints that are walking alongside you in your spiritual journey? And how might your current relationships influence the future shape of the “communion of saints?”

Here is our complete worship flow:

  • O This God (Matt Redman)
  • Mighty Fortress (Aaron Shust)
  • Rock of Ages (Paul Baloche)
  • The Prayer of St Patrick
  • Christ be All Around Me (Leeland/All Sons and Daughters)
  • Announcements and Offering
  • Message (The Communion of Saints)
  • Reprise: Christ Be All Around Me

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

08.10.14 Worship Confessional

636x460design_01Yesterday in worship was an inter-generational WE event called “Through the Waters.” During our gathering we explored the Exodus story of God rescuing the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. Through a mini Seder meal, a creative retelling of the Exodus story, a time of conversation and reflection and a trust building experience, we learned that God is a God who is faithful to His promises.

What is your favorite promise from God?

Here is our complete worship flow:

  • Your Grace Is Enough (Matt Maher)
  • O This God (Matt Redman)
  • How Great Is Our God (Chris Tomlin)
  • WE Experience
  • Whom Shall I Fear (Chris Tomlin)
  • Closing Prayer

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

Stay connected…