The psalms are full of exhortations to testify to God’s faithfulness and to the wonderful things he has done. The story of God’s faithfulness did not end at the close of the Bible’s canon but continues on to this very day in our own stories. For that reason, celebrations of God’s faithfulness need to occur regularly. Harvest time in the fall and the beginning of the New Year are natural times to celebrate God’s faithfulness—but they are not the only times. One occasion that calls for celebration, no matter where it falls in the church year, is the anniversary of a church, or, in this case, a denomination. The following service is a revision of the 150th anniversary celebration service of the Christian Reformed Church in North America. You may find parts of it helpful for your own church’s celebration. If you have additional ideas, liturgies, or visuals to help congregations celebrate an anniversary, please share them with Reformed Worship. —JB
[This section was longer than most gathering times to allow for the large number of people gathering and the fact that many would be arriving early. Worshipers were welcomed by the sound of celebration and by a growing crescendo of praise as their numbers increased.]
Songs of Celebration to Begin Worship
“Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty” (st. 1, 4) CH 3, PH 138, PsH 249, SWM 28, TH 100, WR 136
“Here I Am to Worship” CSW 2, SWM 6
“Cantad Al Senor”/O Sing to the Lord PH 472, SNC 224, SWM 41, WR 15 (st. 1 in Spanish, st. 1 repeated in English, st. 5 in either language)
Prayers of Intercession for Our Church, City, and World
[Choir hums “Lord, Listen to Your Children Praying”PsH 625, SFL 54, SWM 170, WR 489during the spoken prayer]
“Amazing Grace” CH 343, PH 280, PsH 462, SFL 209, TH 460, WR 422 with Navajo chant
“The Lord Is in His Holy Temple” CH 216, WR 387
“Yesu Azali Awa” SWM 7
Choral Anthem:Psalm 98, arr. Dale Grotenhuis
Sung Testimony of Faith Medley
“Great Is Thy Faithfulness” (st. 1) CH 139, PH276, PsH556, SWM 194, TH 32, WR 72
“He Leadeth Me” (st.1) CH 690, PsH 452, SWM 198, TH 600, WR 499
“Que Bueno” (two times)
“Christ the Lord Is Risen Today” (st. 1) CH 367, PH 113, PsH 388, SFL 172, SWM 132, TH 273/277, WR 288
“By the Sea of Crystal” (st. 3) PsH 620, SNT 250, TH 549 concluding with refrain from “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” CH 139, PH 276, PsH 556, SWM 194, TH 32, WR 72
God Calls Us to Worship and Praise
[The greeting taken from Psalm 124:8 and Philippians 1:2 can be spoken in as many languages as appropriate for your gathering]
Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth. Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
We are here today to remember: “One generation shall laud your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts.”
“On the glorious splendor of your majesty, and on your wondrous works, we will meditate.”
We are here today to rejoice: “How precious is your steadfast love, O God! All people may take refuge in the shadow of your wings.”
“They feast on the abundance of your house, and you give them drink from the river of your delights. For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light.”
We gather today to rededicate ourselves to God’s service: “The Lord established a decree in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our ancestors to teach to their children; that the next generations might know them, the children yet unborn, and rise up and tell them to their children,
“So that they should set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments.”
Song of Praise:“God, We Sing Your Glorious Praises” HfW 256 (see sidebar)
Grace for Every Generation
Leader: Hear the good news from 1 John 1:
Reader 1: [from the pulpit]This is the message we have heard from God and proclaim to you, that God is light and in God there is no darkness at all.
Reader 2: If we walk in the light, as God is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin.
Reader 3: [from the font]Today we remember our baptism and we are thankful.
[Reader or another person pours water into the baptismal bowl]
Reader 3: God is good; his love endures forever.
Reader 4:[from the Table]Today we prepare to celebrate the supper of our Lord through prayers of gratitude, confession, lament, and dedication.
Reader 5: Taste and see that our God is good.
A Visual Sermon:“Let Your Light Shine” (see sidebar on p. 29)
Confession and Lament
We are broken vessels who do not faithfully reflect Christ’s light, so we confess our brokenness to him in prayer.
[Adapt the following prayer for your congregation. Consider leaving a few moments of silence after each section (followed by ellipses . . .). Each petition could be read by a different reader if desired.]
We come to you, Jesus Christ, humbly, eager for the forgiveness and healing that can only come through you. We confess that our church has not always practiced unity in the body. We have often been quarrelsome and petty. . . .
We confess that we have not faithfully practiced holiness. At times we have abused power or we have failed to respect those in authority. We have failed to grasp the vast scope of your holiness, justice, and mercy. We have let race divide us rather than allowing the cross to unite us. . . .
We confess that we have not sensed our place in the larger church, the worldwide scope of your body. At times we have thought too highly of ourselves or we have failed to set out in faith. . . .
We confess that we have not always been faithful
witnesses. . . .
Forgive us Lord. Heal us. Renew us. Nourish us at your table. Through Christ, our Lord. Amen.
Leader:Hear now the good news of the gospel of Jesus!
Reader 1:[from the pulpit]For it is God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” Amen? Amen.
Reader 3:[from the font]“The promise is for you, for your children, and for all who are far away, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to him!” (Acts 2). Amen? Amen.
Reader 5:[from the Table] “Jesus said, “I am the bread of life—whoever comes to me will never be hungry” (John 6). Amen? Amen.
[Pianist quietly plays “Walk in the Light” during the reading]
Reader 1:At the pulpit, we claim this promise: “You were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light.” Amen? Amen.
Reader 3:At the font, we claim this promise: “We have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.” Amen? Amen.
Reader 4:At the Table, we ask: “What shall I return to the Lord for all his bounty to me? I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord. I will pay my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people.” Amen? Amen.
Reader 2:As brothers and sisters, we hear God’s gracious commandments: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Amen? Amen.
Reader 1:Friends, let us walk in the light.
Song of Dedication: “Walk in the Light”
God’s Word Is Proclaimed
Prayer for Illumination
Creedal Response:Nicene Creed
Sung Response:“In Christ Alone” CSW 20, SWM 208
We Respond with Our Prayers and Gifts
“Psalm 116” SNC 226
“This Is My Father’s World” (st. 1) CH 143, PH 293, PsH 436, SFL 95, SWM 62, TH 111, WR 2
“Jesus Loves Me” CH 185, PH 304, PsH 571, SFL 61, SWM 209, TH 189, WR 437
“This Is My Father’s World” (st. 2)
God Nourishes Us through the Lord’s Supper
[While any communion liturgy would be appropriate here, consider having children ask questions about why we eat the bread and drink the cup, following the traditional Jewish Passover celebration. For an example of such a service, seeThe Worship Sourcebook (L.8 p. 601) or The Companion to the Book of Common Worship (p. 62).]
“Ososo/Come Now, O Prince of Peace” SNC 209, WR 157
(sing first in Korean, then in English)
“View the Present through the Promise” SNC 90
Santo, Santo, Santo, Mi Corazón/Holy, Holy, Holy, My Heart” SFL 66, SNC 19, SWM 27, WR 737
Response of Thanksgiving(Psalm 103, Revelation 5)
Praise the Lord, O my soul;
all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
praise the Lord, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits—
who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases
who redeems your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion.
Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain,
to receive power and wealth
and wisdom and strength
and honor and glory and praise!
Song of Thanksgiving: “To God Be the Glory” (refrain) CH 54, PsH 632
God Sends Us with His Blessing
Loving God, you have been faithful from one generation to the next. We thank you that you have fed us in this sacrament, united us with Christ, and given us a foretaste of the heavenly banquet in your eternal kingdom. Let your servants go in peace, for our eyes have seen your salvation. Send us out in the power of your Spirit, to live and work for your glory and to tell your good news to all generations—for the sake of Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
Song of Commitment:“One Generation Will Call to the Next” CSW 4
Blessing (spoken in as many languages as appropriate for your church)
The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace. Amen.
Song of Praise:“Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow” CH 166/814/815, PH 591/592, PsH 638, SFL11, TH 731/732/733, WR 34/44/147
Postlude:“Now Thank We All Our God” CH 788, PH 555, PsH 454,
SFL 33, SWM 230, TH 98, WR 14
God, We Sing Your Glorious Praises
(sung to the tune Nettleton)
God, we sing your glorious praises
as we tell your awesome deeds;
you have fashioned all creation,
and you meet each creature’s needs.
We rejoice in how your people
tasted your great faithfulness;
graced through every generation,
we your mighty acts profess.
We remember, God, your covenant,
which extends from heaven to earth;
how Christ’s death and resurrection
conquers sin, renews our birth.
Thank you for this gospel message,
which inspires your church to preach
grace to every generation
in our deeds and in our speech.
Fueled by power from your Spirit,
we commit ourselves anew
to be faithful to your gospel
in the daily work we do.
We will shout your glorious praises,
telling all who have not heard;
grace for every generation
is embodied in your Word.
Lord, we offer you our worship
as we celebrate your grace
which you shower on your people
gathered here and everyplace.
Blessed by water, Word, and Table,
we, your church, now pledge to share
grace through every generation
in our witness, work, and prayer.
Words: Bert Polman © 2006 Faith Alive Christian Resources.
Use permitted with a CCLI or OneLicense.net license.
Let Your Light Shine
Note: As they arrived, worshipers were given small flashlights for use in this segment.
We invite you to pray now through song, through spoken words, and also by experiencing the lights that will surround you: a visual sermon.
To prepare, please take out and turn on your flashlights or another light source, such as a cell phone with the ringer off.
Shining these lights is a testimony to two powerful truths:
First, the light we shine is not ours. It is Jesus’ light. We have the privilege of reflecting it.
Second, God works through all kinds of broken vessels to share the light of Jesus. The power of the gospel is the “power of many” who are gifted by the Spirit to reflect Jesus’ light. So when I say Let it shineI invite you to shine your light toward the font and Table. And when I say Amen?simply point them to the floor near you and respond Amen!
[Sanctuary lights should be dimmed or turned off]
First, we shine our lights to say thanks to God for the light of Jesus, which gives us hope. Let it shine! Amen? Amen.
Then we shine our lights to say thanks to God for all those people in this church—this small part of the whole church of Jesus—who have reflected Christ’s light to us.
If you are thankful today
- for the nurture of a teacher, counselor, or group leader, let it shine.
- for a faithful church secretary, let it shine.
- for the service of a custodian, let it shine.
- for inspiration from a young child, let it shine.
- for a wise and thoughtful pastor, let it shine.
If you are thankful today because you came to the Lord or grew in faith because of an evangelist, missionary, mentor, pastor, or friend, let it shine. Amen? Amen.
Finally, we shine our lights to say thanks to God for giving us the joy of shining the light—the power of many reflections of Jesus’ light for the world.
If God has given you the privilege of serving this churchas a prayer leader, teacher, counselor, committee member or pastor, let it shine.
And if you commit to shining Jesus’ light wherever he places you, let it shine.
We bless you, Lord our God. Truly Jesus is our light.
To you, O God, be the glory!
[Turn sanctuary lights back on]