Joining Hands in Service: A commissioning service

Summer vacations are over. Ministries are finding their feet again after an extended break. The hands of God's people are readied to take up the callings and tasks that he has prepared for them.

The worship committee of the Christian Reformed Church of St. Albert prepared this commissioning service for the congregation as it faced a new year of challenges and opportunities. This service reflects the great diversity of ways in which members of the congregation serve Jesus Christ: the banner that is constructed throughout the service provides a striking visual image of that diversity; the songs and instruments employed throughout the worship service are evidence of the musical talents respresented in the congregation. Through song and readings from Scripture and from "Our World Belongs to God," the contemporary testimony of the Christian Reformed Church, the service teaches that we are empowered by the triune God to serve God, each other, and our neighbors.

Some preparations will need to be made ahead of time:

1. Prepare a large board with the heading "Joining Hands in Service" at the top. A yellow circle (representing the Lord) should be attached approximately one-quarter of the way from the bottom, and double-sided tape placed in a swirl pattern out from the circle (see photo).

2. Ask people from the various groups and ministries well ahead of time to cut out and bring to the service hands of various colors of construction paper, one for everyone involved in leading and serving in that ministry. Have extra hands ready to represent those whose service is so humbly offered to the Lord that it is sometimes overlooked by the congregation.

3. Give readers and musicians plenty of time to prepare for their roles in the service.

This service was submitted by the Christian Reformed Church of St. Albert, Alberta, Canada

JOINING HANDS IN SERVICE

We Enter God's House with Praise

Pre-service singing (songs accompanied by piano and guitar)

"Hosanna"SFL 160
"Bind Us Together"TWC 690
"I Will Enter His Gates" SFL 9
"Open Our Eyes, Lord" TWC 536

The Church Is the Fellowship of Believers

God's Greeting and Our "Amen"

Song of Adoration: "Praise to the Lord, the Almighty" PsH 253, RL 145, SFL 27, TH 53

Prayer for the Spirit's Presence

Celebration of the Spirit: "Like the Murmur of the Dove's Song" PH 314, SFL 191

Responsive Reading

In our world, bent under the weight of sin,
Christ gathers a new community.
Satan and his evil forces
seek whom they might confuse and swallow;
But Jesus builds his church,
his Spirit guides,
and his grace abounds.
The church is the fellowship of those
who confess Jesus as Lord.
She is the Bride of Christ,
his chosen partner,
loved by Jesus and loving him,
delighting in his presence,
seeking him in prayer,
silent before the mystery of his love.

—"Our World Belongs to Cod," par. 37

Children's message and song: "I Am the Church" SFL 236

Responsive Reading

Reader 1: Our new life in Christ is celebrated
and nourished in the fellowship of congregations

All: where God's name is praised,
his Word proclaimed,
his way taught;
where sins are confessed,
prayers and gifts are offered,
and sacraments are celebrated.
—"Our World Belongs to God," pai. 39

Songs

"God Is Here!" PSH 516, PH 461
"Father, I Adore You" PsH 284, SFL 28

[During the singing of these songs, representatives of the council, worship committee, church musicians, service leaders, children's storytellers, women's group Cadets, Calvinettes, and nursery come forward and dedicate the hands of their members in service by placing paper hands on the "'Joining Hands in Service " banner]

Responsive Reading

Reader 2: The Spirit empowers each member
to take part in the ministry of all,

All: so that hurts are healed
and all may rejoice
in the life and growth of the fellowship.
—"Our World Belong; (o Cod, "par. 41)

Songs

"For Your Gift of God the Spirit" PSH 416, RL 382, TH 339
"He is Lord" PsH 633, SFL 178

[Representatives of the following groups come forward, placing their hands on the board: church school teachers, education committee, CoffeeBreak, administration committee, Friendship group KidsTime outreach ministry, youth groups]

Responsive Reading

Reader 3: The Spirit's gifts are here to stay
in rich variety—
fitting responses to timely needs.

All: We thankfully see each other
as gifted members of the fellowship
which delights in the creative Spirit's work.
He gives more than enough
to each believer
for God's praise and our neighbor's welfare.
—"Our World Belongs to God." par. 33

We Sing Our Prayer

"Jesu, Jesu, Fill Us with Your Love" PsH 601, PH 367, SFL 251
"Lord, I Want to Be a Christian" PsH 264, PH 372, SFL 40, TH 530

[The last stanza will be sung by a soloist as the congregation prays silently.]

[Representatives of the following groups come forward, placing their hands on the board: outreach committee, prayer group church life committee, Children's Hope Society Men's Life.]

We Hear God's Word

Scripture Reading: Numbers 27:12-23

Sermon: "Commissioned with Power"

Prayer

Hymn of Response: "Lord of All Good" PsH 295, PH 375, RL 430, TH 435

The Mission of God's People

Responsive Reading

Reader 4: Following the apostles, the church is sent—
sent with the gospel of the kingdom

All: to make disciples of all nations,
to feed the hungry,
and to proclaim the assurance that in the name of Christ
there is forgiveness of sin and new life
for all who repent and believeó
to tell the news that our world belongs to God.

Reader 4: In a world estranged from God,
where millions face confusing choices,
this mission is central to our being,
for we announce the one name that saves.

All: We repent of leaving this work to a few,
we pray for brothers and sisters
who suffer for the faith,
and we rejoice that the Spirit
is waking us to see
our mission in God's world.
—"Our World Belongs to God, "par. 44

Prayers of the People

The Offering

[During the offering the congregation sings "I Love to Tell the Story" PsH 530, TH 478 and "As Moses Raised the Serpent UP" PsH 219, SFL 165]

We Leave to Serve

Song: "Sent by the Lord" SFL 249

Benediction: 1 Thessalonians 5:14-24

Threefold AMEN ■