Breaking Babel, Building the Body of Christ

It was wonderful to worship together with organ, piano, and acoustic guitar! We also explored the Tower of Babel story by building and destroying our own tower of self-centeredness, then rebuilding it on the altar, piece by piece, into a representation not of our own pride or desires, but of the Body of Christ!

As always, you can check out our morning video stream at our Facebook page in case you weren’t able to be with us in person yesterday.   This coming Sunday, we’re celebrating Pentecost with flourishes of color, exciting music, and the story of the pouring of the Holy Spirit on the early church.  In many ways, the Pentecost story is a reversal of yesterday’s story of Babel.  Whether you’ve been in worship with us recently or not,  come help celebrate the often-forgotten power of Pentecost.  Join us this week!  We’re not just inviting you to church, but to a mission to build a world on earth as it is in Heaven…a just world for all, where each and all know the power, provision, and protection of God in the Body of Christ.

Lenten Bible Study Starts Next Wednesday!

Please join us each Wednesday throughout Lent at 6:30 in the Social Hall for a this year’s Lenten Bible Study focusing on the final week in the earthly life of Jesus. In this study, we’ll look at the narrative scope of the events immediately leading to Jesus’ crucifixion, starting with the accounts of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem mere days before the tide of popular opinion would turn against him. By exploring these events, we will have better prepared our hearts and spirits for Easter, and we will have better prepared ourselves to be the Easter people Jesus enables us to be.

Weeks and Themes:

February 21: The Triumphal Entry (Matthew 21:1-11)
February 28: Clearing the Temple (Mark 11:12-19)
March 7: Teaching on the Mount of Olives (Matthew 24: 1 – 31)
March 14: Jesus and His People at Prayer
March 21: Last Supper Special Seder Presentation with Rev. Dr. Steve Shussett
March 28: Good Friday (Matthew 27)

Worship Elements, World Communion Sunday

This morning, we celebrated World Communion Sunday with congregations across the world.  Each year on the first Sunday of October, Christians of all denominations, backgrounds, and cultures,  set aside differences and together celebrate the things we cherish in common: the call of Jesus to love God and one another.

Central to our worship, liturgy, and conversation today were the images of bread and cup. Continuing our series on Jesus’ teachings about the kingdom of God,  we explored this parable:

Matthew 13:3

    He told them still another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into about sixty pounds of flour until it worked all through the dough.”

as well as this teaching from Paul’s letter to the Galatian church:

Galatians 5:22-27

   But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.

 

This was our Call to Worship:

This is the day that that Lord has made! 

Let us rejoice and be glad in it!

We gather as one Body,

we gather for worship, fellowship, and celebration!

We are united, always, with brothers and sisters in Christ

across the world,  across the pages of Scripture, across the passing of time.

We gather for worship, fellowship, and celebration.

We gather in the name of Jesus.

We gather for story and song, for prayer and praise, for bread and cup.

We gather as one Body, together building the kingdom of God.

Jesus said the kingdom of God is like a great vineyard, that he is the vine, and we are the branches.

Jesus said the kingdom of God is like leaven, like yeast in bread, living, active, transforming everything.

Like the stretching of branches across the vineyard, let us bear fruit!

Like the baking of bread, let faith arise!

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We then sang I Lift My Hands by Chris Tomlin, with the uplifting refrain “Let faith arise, Let faith arise!”  We continued this theme in the Children’s Chat and during Kid’s Table, our youngsters made salt-dough creations to share with our shut-ins.

Our Communion liturgy was adapted from the United Church of Christ Book of Worship, using elements below followed by prayer and the blessing and sharing of the elements.

Merciful God, we know that you love us and that you call us to fullness of life, but around us and within us we see the brokenness of the world and of our ways.  Our successes leave us empty; our progress does not satisfy.  Our prosperous land is not the promised land of our longing.  Forgive our willful neglect of your world, our insensitivity to the needs of others, and our failure to feed the spirt that is within us, the Spirit of Christ Jesus, and through Jesus our Redeemer we pray, Amen.       

Beloved, we are beloved by God. Fashioned in God’s image, forgiven through God’s grace, free in the way of Jesus. Amen!

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.

Jesus said:  I am the bread of life.  You who come to me will not hunger; you who believe in me shall never thirst.  Luke, the evangelist, wrote of our risen Savior, who at the table with two disciples took bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them.  Their eyes were opened, and they recognized the risen Christ in the breaking and sharing of bread.

In company with all who hunger for spiritual food, we come to this table. In company with all believers in every time and beyond time, we come to know the risen Christ in the breaking and sharing of bread.

God be with you!

And also with you!

Lift up your hearts!

We lift them up to God!                                                                   

Let us give thanks to God.

It is right to give God thanks and praise.

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We prayed together, sang together, and shared the bread and cup.  We reflected on the connections between the kingdom of God being like yeast in dough to the imagery of Jesus as the Bread of Life and the breaking of bread in Communion. We talked about connections between the cup of Communion and the image of the kingdom of God as a vineyard, each of us branches drawing sustenance from Jesus, the vine.

If you couldn’t join us this week, please make plans to be with us soon.  We’ll continue our series on the parables Jesus told about the kingdom of God for the next two weeks, with a special focus on the parables of planting, harvesting agriculture on October 15, our Harvest Home Celebration.

See you in church and in the community!

-Pastor Chris