Second Corinthians 5:7-6:2 is one of the great declarations of the new life given in Christ. In this passage, Paul calls believers to accept and embrace the new identity given to them in Christ. They have not merely adopted a new philosophy or gained new knowledge or spiritual insight. In the depths of their being, their very nature has been changed. This is not a scattered redemption of select individuals, but part of God’s overriding action of restoring all of creation. We are new creatures participating in God’s new order.
Unchurched people often look at local churches as being completely unrelated to each other. One of the best ways to testify to the truth of the gospel is by demonstrating the unity of Christ-centered churches. Promoting community-wide worship can help do this.
All: We believe in one God,
the Father almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all things visible and invisible.
People: We believe that God the Father is our Creator.
Reader 1: All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. (John 1:3, NRSV)
This psalms service is based on a lessons and carols format that grows out of a thoroughly Reformed theology of Scripture. Third Church has developed an appetite for services where long portions of Scripture are woven with song, prayer, and silence. The development of Advent and Good Friday services that use this form has led to the planning of other types of services that use this pattern as well.
When I first began preaching and my chosen text for a Sunday was a psalm, I would simply preach about the psalm at the prescribed section of the liturgy, seeing myself as the one who was called to explain and expound on the psalm as a piece of biblical text. Of course, liturgists and I would also include other elements in the litany that connected to the psalm’s language or meaning, and we would search for a great song of response to “seal the deal,” but the psalm itself remained intact as the preaching topic.
When the prayers of the worshiping community, the small group or family, and the individual are formed and guided by the psalms, the result is a balanced, God-centered, complete diet of prayer. People grow in grace and God hears what God is waiting to hear. Here are some examples and suggestions for including this diet in Sunday worship and throughout the week.
Note: All Scripture quotations in this article are from the NRSV.
As the new chapel interns at Fuller Seminary gathered to begin planning worship at the beginning of the year, it became apparent that we had a problem. After we’d assembled our raw materials—piles of hymnals, sheaves of guitar fake sheets, and stacks of songbooks, there was little room left on the table for our pencils and notepads. The collection was just too cumbersome to work with.
Last year for Good Friday, we planned a service that followed a modified “stations [or way] of the cross.” Each station was framed by the traditional ancient text Adoramus te.