03.22.15 Worship Confessional

KSHA157God has commanded us to love him not for God’s sake but for ours. Given the way God has set things up, loving anything other than God as god is a major mistake. The greatest commandment protects us from the misery of idolatry – that we might find our ultimate good and discover the ultimate meaning of happiness in God. (David Naugle: Reordered Love, Reordered Lives)

Yesterday we concluded the Abraham and Sarah arc of our “Story” series by exploring Genesis 22. As you reflect upon God’s command to Abraham to offer up his son, Issac, what is it in your life that God might be inviting you to give up and give over – in order that God might give it back to you for your enjoyment and happiness?

Here is our complete worship flow:

  • All the Poor and Powerless (All Sons and Daughters)
  • Hallelujah: Your Love Is Amazing (Brenton Brown)
  • Reading from Psalm 145
  • Only King Forever (Elevation Worship)
  • Prayers from St. Patrick
  • Be Thou My Vision (Ascend the Hill version)
  • Announcements and Offering
  • Message (Given Up, Given Over, Given Back)

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

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03.15.15 Worship Confessional

Comedy_Tragedy_by_STiX2000The place to start is with a woman laughing. She is an old woman, and, after a lifetime in the desert, her face is cracked and rutted like a six-month drought. She hunches her shoulders around her ears and starts to shake. She squinnies her eyes shut, and her laughter is all China teeth and wheeze and tears running down as she rocks back and forth in her kitchen chair. She is laughing because she is pushing ninety-one hard and has just been told she is going to have a baby. Even though it was an angel who told her, she can’t control herself, and her husband can’t control himself either. He keeps a straight face a few seconds longer than she does, but he ends by cracking up, too. Even the angel is not unaffected. He hides his mouth behind his golden scapular, but you can still see his eyes. They are larkspur blue and brimming with something of which the laughter of the old woman and her husband is at best only a rough translation.

The old woman’s name is Sarah, of course, and the old man’s name is Abraham, and they are laughing at the idea of a baby being born in the geriatric ward and Medicare’s picking up the tab. They are laughing because the angel not only seems to believe it but seems to expect them to believe it too. They are laughing because with part of themselves they do believe it. They are laughing because with another part of themselves they know it would take a fool to believe it. They are laughing because laughing is better than crying and maybe not even all that different. They are laughing because if by some crazy chance it should just happen to come true, then they would really have something to laugh about. They are laughing at God and with God, and they are laughing at themselves too because laughter has that in common with weeping. No matter what the immediate occasion is of either your laughter or your tears, the object of both ends up being yourself and your own life. (Frederick Buechner, The Gospel as Comedy)

Here is our complete worship flow:

  • Mighty Fortress (Baloche and Shust)
  • This Is Amazing Grace (Riddle and Wickham)
  • All the Poor and Powerless (All Sons and Daughters)
  • A Time of Examen
  • Psalm 139 (Robbie Seay)
  • Assurance of Pardon
  • Love Ran Red/At the Cross (Chris Tomlin)
  • Announcements and Offering
  • Message (Comedy or Tragedy)

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

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03.08.15 Worship Confessional

hands-and-heartsYesterday in worship we sang some songs, prayed some prayers, listened to Scripture, and received an offering. In other words, pretty typical fare for Sunday worship. But we also engaged our hands and feet into our liturgy as we partnered with World Vision to build 137 Ebola Caregiver Kits. As part of the Advent Conspiracy Project, we raised over $3500 to support the people in West Africa who have been battling this deadly disease. And yesterday we set-up tables, created an assembly line, wrote notes of encouragement and enacted our worship. Every member of our community was involved, from the youngest to the oldest, and together I believe we offered something that not only brought pleasure to our God, but will bring real help and hope to people in real need! When is the last time that happened in your corporate worship gathering?

Here is our complete worship flow:

  • Awake My Soul (Mumford and Sons)
  • This Is Amazing Grace (Riddle and Wickham)
  • As It Is in Heaven (Matt Maher)
  • All the Poor and Powerless (All Sons and Daughters)
  • The Building of Ebola Caregiver Kits
  • Announcements and Offering
  • Psalm 139 (Robbie Seay)

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

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03.01.15 Worship Confessional

Story Logo - Version 2The story of Hagar is the story of the terrible jealousy of Sarah and the singular ineffectuality of Abraham and the way Hagar, who knew how to roll with the punches, managed to survive them both. Above and beyond that, however, it is the story of how in the midst of the whole unseemly affair the Lord, half tipsy with compassion, went around making marvelous promises and loving everybody and creating great nations like the last of the big-time spenders handing out hundred-dollar bills. (Frederick Buechner)

This morning as we continued our series, “Story” we explored the Abram, Sarai, and Hagar narrative found in Genesis 16 and 21. I wrapped my message around the theme, “The God Who Sees and Hears.” Did you know that Hagar is the only women in Scripture to name God (“You are the God Who Sees Me”) and the only women to receive the promise that God would increase her descendents through her son (Ishmael).

In light of our “The God Who Sees and Hears” theme, we spent some time with the practice of examen. Pulling together some resources from Scripture, The Verses Project and Re-Worship, we crafted this liturgy:

Leader: Lent is a season of preparing our hearts and minds to experience more fully the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. Following the practice of Jesus’ time in the desert where he fasted for 40 days, many people choose to give up something for Lent.

The Lenten season is also a time of reflection and renewal. Lent is an opportunity to take everything that works against God and let it go. Let our sins die as Christ died for our sins, so that we too can come back on Easter renewed.

This morning we are going to take some time to do this as a community.

Join me in reading these words from Psalm 139:

You have searched me, LORD, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you discern my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are acquainted with all my ways. (Psalm 139:1-3)

Leader: 1 John 3:20 states, “God knows everything.” Not only does God know all things generally, God also knows all people personally. Often we can keep truths at a distance through broad generalizations, but never consider how these great truths affect us practically. It’s one thing to say, “God loves the world” but another to declare, “God loves me.” Have you ever wondered if God sees and knows you individually? Does God care about you? Psalm 139 proclaims this truth, “Yes! God knows me.” Not only does the God of the Bible know in general, but God knows you personally. God’s knowledge is not only absolute; it is also personal and intimate. God’s knowledge searches out our path and is acquainted not simply with some of our ways, but with all our ways.

How do you respond to this truth?

One response might be fear, anxiety or even terror. We like our secrecy, and God’s omniscience crashes our dark secretive parties. There is not only a God who knows, but also a perfect Judge who not only can judge us based on our external actions, but one who judges us based on our internal thoughts. If you are at odds with this Judge, this God, then this truth can be terrifying.

Another response to this truth can be one of comfort. Have you ever wondered if anyone knows? Does anyone even care? God does. God’s omniscience is accompanied by great compassion and mercy. We see this compassion primarily in God’s Son Jesus, who came to earth to rescue and redeem a people for Himself. It was precisely because God was acquainted with all our ways and knew how bad off we really were that Jesus left heaven, took on flesh, and died in our place.

Praise the all-knowing God who knew you at your worst and sent God’s Son to lay down His life for you!

Song – Psalm 139

Unison Prayer:

God, you know us better than we know ourselves. You know our thoughts,
our weaknesses, our motivations, our sins. And you love us still.

Forgive us when we don’t believe such love is true or possible; when we wonder how You could love us just as we are, when we forget our intricate construction, the fact that we fearfully, wonderfully made, in Your image!

Remove from our minds every thought that keeps us from you. Break down the walls, push aside the pride, and help us to trust anew. You know our hearts. And you love us still. Amen.

Words of Assurance and Pardon (read together)

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
23 they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness. (Lamentation 3:22-23)

Song – Great Are You Lord

Here is our complete worship flow:

  • Your Grace Is Enough (Matt Maher)
  • Whom Shall I Fear (Chris Tomlin)
  • A Time of Examen
  • Psalm 139 (Robbie Seay)
  • Great Are You, Lord (All Sons and Daughters)
  • Announcements and Offering
  • Message (The God Who Sees and Hears)

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

Stay connected…

02.22.15 Worship Confessional

jubileeThis was a dynamic weekend for our city and church as Jubilee came to Pittsburgh. The Jubilee conference brings over 2,500 university students into Pittsburgh and the heart behind the experience is the conviction that the Gospel changes everything! As Abraham Kuyper declared, “There is not a single square inch of creation that Jesus Christ does not proclaim, ‘Mine!'”

We bring a taste of Jubilee to our worship gathering and this year we were privileged to have Justin McRoberts as our guest. Justin is a gifted singer/songwriter, author and storyteller. His most recent work is Title Pending: Things I Think About When I Make Stuff and it is a brilliant reflection on the creative process.

As well, Justin is a Compassion International artist and yesterday our community committed to rescuing 5 more children from Uganda out of poverty.

Here is our complete worship flow:

  • All Creatures of Our God and King (traditional)
  • Lord, I need You (Matt Maher)
  • All the Poor and Powerless (All Sons and Daughters)
  • Jesus, All for Jesus (Robin Mark)
  • Announcements and Offering
  • Message in Word and Song (Justin McRoberts)

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

Stay connected…