Being Strengthened By Our History {Confirmation Worship}

I am not sure if anyone is interested, but here is the worship service I put together for the confirmands on Sunday night …

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Confirmation Worship
March 3, 2013

Opening Words {from Feasting on the Word Worship Companion, Liturgies for Year C, Volume 1, Third Sunday in Lent}
{We went around the table and each read one line of this.}

Everyone who thirsts:
Come to the waters,
seek the Lord,
repent and return
so that you may live.
All who are hungry for righteousness:
Come to the waters,
seek the Lord,
repent and return
so that you may live.
All who need the help of God:
Come to the waters,
seek the Lord,
repent and return
so that you may live.

Prayer For Illumination {from Feasting on the Word Worship Companion, Liturgies for Year C, Volume 1, Third Sunday in Lent}
{We read this in unison.}

Bring your word near to us, O God.
May it rest not only on our lips,
But also reside in our hearts.
By the power of your Holy Spirit,
Help us to respond to your word
With our whole lives
Until you become our dwelling place;
Through Jesus Christ, we pray. Amen.

Scriptures
{These were the lectionary texts for that week. There are four confirmands this year so each confirmand read one of the scriptures.}

Isaiah 55:1-3
Psalm 63:1-8
1 Corinthians 10:9-13
Luke 13:6-9

Reflection

Faith Works, by Jim Wallis
{This is a selection from a longer article.  The full text can be found in the book, The Impossible Will Take A Little While: a citizen’s guide to hope in a time of fear, edited by Paul Rogat Loeb.  Here is a link to it on amazon.)

Hope is believing in spite of the evidence, then watching the evidence change. That’s what I’ve learned after almost three decades of working for change as a person of faith. What do I mean by faith? I like the definition used by the biblical writer of the Letter to the Hebrews: “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Simply put, faith makes hope possible. And hope is the single most important ingredient for changing the world.

Many people today would like to find some way to practice their faith or spirituality, despite the excesses, corruption, or narrow regulations of religion that have turned them away. I believe the making of the modern Christian, Jew, or Muslim will be through action. When put into action, faith has the capacity to bring people together, to motivate, and to inspire, even across former dividing lines. We demonstrate our faith by putting into practice. Conversely, if we don’t keep the power of faith in the actions we undertake, our efforts can easily lead to burnout, bitterness, and despair. The call to action can preserve the authenticity of faith, while the power of faith can save the integrity of our actions. As the biblical apostle James put it, “Faith without works is dead.”

Today, I see a new kind of activist emerging. Not one who is angry or burned out, but one whose belief that things can be different goes deeper than a passing optimism. We’ve had plenty of very sophisticated analysis of what’s wrong with the world, much of it quite helpful. But what’s often been missing is the vision to help people connect the desire to change their lives with a commitment to change their communities. That vision will likely be rooted in moral and spiritual values.

Sing Me Home, by Tim McGraw
{We listened to this song and afterwards I talked about how our church is “home” for them and how they are part of the history that is still unfolding!}

Closing Blessing {from Feasting on the Word Worship Companion, Liturgies for Year C, Volume 1, Third Sunday in Lent}
{We read this in unison.}

God, my dwelling place, as the shadows fall, I rest in you.
Thank you for the faith that held me fast this day.
Thank you, too, for every person who offered me grace, and for those to whom I could also show grace.
I pray this night for all who long to see a sign of your power in the darkness that surrounds them.
Be near to them and show them your salvation.
And in the morning when I rise, give me your work to do for another day;
In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Good Friday

The altar looks like this …

… and yet outside …

… it looks like this.

Weird contrasts during the Easter Triduum.

I grabbed breakfast to go so I could get to church early today …

… and there was a card waiting for me in the office!  Thank you thank you thank Carrie – I love it!

Our church is open from 8 to 6 today for people wanting to come in for a time of personal Good Friday reflection and meditation.  This is the bulletin that I prepared – feel free to take it and worship!

Wishing you peace for your journey …
Sarah

***

REHOBOTH CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH
GOOD FRIDAY
A GUIDE FOR PERSONAL PRAYER & REFLECTION
Rev. Sarah Weaver – Pastor
Friday, April 22, 2011

Prepare yourself for worship by reading this portion of Psalm 52, a Prayer for Cleansing and Pardon.

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me. Do no cast me away from your presence, and do not take your holy spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and sustain in me a willing spirit.
Psalm 51:10-12

What part of this portion speaks to you in this moment? Read it several times, pausing for silent reflection between each reading. What words continue to jump out at you?

Holy Week can be a time of anxiety and guilt. As you hear, think about and possibly struggle with the story of the crucifixion this year, I invite you to offer those thoughts to God with this Prayer of Confession.

Almighty and everlasting God, always more ready to hear than we are to pray, always willing to give more than we either desire or deserve: pour upon us the abundance of your mercy; forgiving those things of which our conscience is afraid, and giving us those good things which we are not worthy to ask, except through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ, your Begotten One, our Sovereign. Amen.

Hear, believe and live out these Words of Assurance:

One fact remains that does not change: God has love you, loves you now, and will always love you. This is the good news that brings us through this dark Easter Triduum – and gives us new life on Easter morning. Amen.

Hear now what happened after the crucifixion, as recounted in the Gospel of Matthew.

The next day, that is, after the day of Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate and said, “Sire, we remember what that impostor said while he was still alive, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ Therefore command the tomb to be made secure until the third day; otherwise his disciples may go and steal him away, and tell the people, ‘He has been raised from the dead,’ and the last deception would be worse than the first.” Pilate said to them, “You have a guard of soldiers; go, make it as secure as you can.” So they went with the guard and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone.
Matthew 27:62-66

It is hard to sit through Good Friday – we want so badly for Easter morning to be here so we can proclaim, “Christ is Risen!” But we know we have to wait. Close your eyes and take a deep breath. Slowly inhale. Slowly exhale. Now – pray these words:

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me. Do no cast me away from your presence, and do not take your holy spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and sustain in me a willing spirit.
Psalm 51:10-12
Here is the Psalm in its entirety …
Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against you, you alone, have I sinned, and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are justified in your sentence and blameless when you pass judgment. Indeed, I was born guilty, a sinner when my mother conceived me. You desire truth in the inward being; therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have crushed rejoice. Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me. Do not cast me away from your presence, and do not take your holy spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and sustain in me a willing* spirit. Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you. Deliver me from bloodshed, O God, O God of my salvation, and my tongue will sing aloud of your deliverance. O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise. For you have no delight in sacrifice; if I were to give a burnt-offering, you would not be pleased. The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. Do good to Zion in your good pleasure; rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, then you will delight in right sacrifices, in burnt-offerings and whole burnt-offerings; then bulls will be offered on your altar.
Psalm 51

Now slowly bring yourself out of your personal prayer & reflection by singing – either to yourself or out loud – Amazing Grace.

Amazing grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me! I once was lost, but now am found, was blind by now I see.
When we’ve been there ten thousand years, bright shining as the sun, we’ve no less days to sing God’s praise than when we’d first begun.

(To hear it sung click here.)

MAY GOD’S PEACE BE POURED OVER YOU AS YOU WAIT FOR THE RESURRECTION.