God Be With You Till We Meet Again

A Church's Final Service

When a church closes, its remaining members grieve. But in Christ we are not without hope. The final service of Gallatin Gateway Community Christian Reformed Church in Bozeman, Montana, was a moving expression of remembrance, pain, and faith.

Gathering

Call to Worship: John 11:25-26

Hymn of Praise: “How Great Thou Art” LUYH 553, PH 467, PsH 483, TH 44, WR 51

The Lord’s Greeting

Passing of the Peace

Hymn of Praise: “Faith of Our Fathers” PsH 443, TH 570, WR 530

Remembering

(Reflections on the church’s history were shared by a layperson.)

Scripture: Psalm 27:1, 13-14; Psalm 126:4-6

The LORD is my light and my salvation
—whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the stronghold of my life
—of whom shall I be afraid?

I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.
Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.

Restore our fortunes, O LORD, like streams in the Negev.
Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him.

Confession

(The prayer of confession was introduced by recognizing difficult things that happened, such as the anger and bitterness felt when people left, hurts the congregation had endured together, and the feeling that a family had been divided.)

Eternal God, shepherd of your people, we feel the fleeting passage of life,
and we know how fragile is our existence on this tiny planet amid the spinning galaxies.
We confess with the prophet:
“All flesh is grass, and all its glory is like the flowers of the field.
The grass withers and the flowers fall.”
Yet we also confess: “The word of our God stands forever.”
Teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom.
We look to you as frightened children look to their mother, for you alone can comfort us.
Have mercy on us, O God. See our tears and hear our cries and lead us all, as pilgrims, through this valley of death’s shadow into the light of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord. Amen.
—TWS 4.5.17

How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and every day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me?

Look on me and answer, O LORD my God.
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death;
my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,”
and my foes will rejoice when I fall.

But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.
I will sing to the LORD,
for he has been good to me.

—Psalm 13 (NIV), TWS 4.5.23

Assurance of Pardon

2 Corinthians 4:7-11

God’s Will for Our Lives

Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.

“The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.” (John 12:23–26)

Giving Thanks for God’s Work in and through Our Congregation

(Reflections were led by a layperson.)

Hymn of Gratitude: “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” LUYH 348, PH 276, PsH 556, TH 32, WR 72

Proclamation in Word and Sacrament

Children’s Message: “I love you”—the three words God wants us to treasure in our hearts (from Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing by Sally Lloyd Jones, p. 24)

Prayer for Illumination
Lord God, these are your sheep and this is your Word. Please feed your sheep with your Word and glorify your name. In Christ we pray, amen.

Scripture: John 21

Sermon: “Follow Me!”

Lord’s Supper

Songs:
“Come to Us, Beloved Stranger” LUYH 207, SNC 153
“Amazing Grace” LUYH 691, PH 280, PsH 462, TH 460, WR 422

Responding to the Word

Prayers of the People

Offering

Sending

Hymn of Dedication: “In Christ Alone” LUYH 770

Call to Discipleship: Philippians 3:12-21

Benediction
As Christ burst forth from the tomb,
may new life burst forth from us
and show itself in acts of love and healing to a hurting world.
And may that same Christ, who lives forever and is the source of our new life,
keep your hearts rejoicing and grant you peace
this day and always. Amen.

—TWS N.9.1.1
Carol A. Wise from For All Who Minister: A Worship Manual for the Church of the Brethren © 1993, Brethren Press. Used by permission.

Doxology: “God Be With You Till We Meet Again” LUYH 944, PH 540, PsH 316, TH 385/386, WR 716 (sung standing in a circle around the sanctuary)

George Den Oudsten is pastor of Peoria Christian Reformed Church in Iowa.