Category Archives: Quotes

Saint Michael and All the Angels


Prayer of the Church
St. Michael and All Angels
The following prayers were written by a friend, Pastor Michael Zarling, for use on Sunday September 25.
Almighty God, in the beginning you made the earth and created mankind upon it. With your own hands you stretched out the heavens. You marshaled their starry hosts. You created humanity to have dominion upon the earth. You created the angels to guard the crown of your creation in all their ways.
For the works of your creation and our salvation, we join with the archangels, the cherubim, and seraphim in praising you, Lord. We gather around your throne to sing, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord almighty. Heaven and earth is full of your glory.” We thank you that you send the angels as your servants to do you will. Your angels were present at the conception, birth, temptation, resurrection, and ascension of our Lord Jesus. We join with the angels in worshiping you for the work of your Son in winning salvation for the world and we sing with them, “Glory to God in the highest, and peace on earth to those on whom his favor rests.” We rejoice with the angels in heaven over every sinner who repents. We are grateful for the angels you send to carry the souls of your departed saints to Abraham’s side in heaven. We await the trumpet call on the Last when you will send your angels to gather your elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.
Prayers of intercession.
Gracious God and Father, we thank you for the gifts of forgiveness in Absolution, of cleansing from sin in Baptism, of Christ’s body and blood in Holy Communion, and of a peace that surpasses all understanding in the Benediction. We thank you for the message of the angels that announced Christ’s arrival, who proclaimed Christ’s resurrection, testified to Christ’s ascension and will trumpet Christ’s second coming. We are grateful for the holy angels you send to minister to us as they ministered to Christ in the wilderness. For all this, we thank you. And we ask that you hear our humble prayers, so that we might praise your holy name with one voice with the cherubim and seraphim, the apostles and prophets, the martyrs and your Holy Church, all through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
Thank you Pastor Zarling for sharing.
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The Sweetest Scripture Verse


“It is the duty of every Christian to be Christ to his neighbor.”  – by ?
 
The Quote! 
Anyone know who wrote that quote?  I think whoever it was, is right on.  And I think we need to keep this in mind especially during times of persecution. We have all been there, haven’t we?  Someone says false things about you behind your back?  Someone bullies you at school or in the workplace?  Most times words hurt more than fists.
 
Just Like Christ! 
But we are to be Christ-like to our neighbors even if they fall soooo incredibly short of God’s morality.  A true Christian and follower of Christ will actually become more Christ-minded when people rub them the wrong way.  Perhaps this is part of God’s plan – sufferings lead to perseverance, perseverance to character and character to hope (Romans 5:3-4).  Maybe these hurtful people are placed into our lives for our benefit because they help us to realize our own shortcomings.
 
Forgiveness 
We need to overlook the offense and instead remember the all too numerous times God has forgiven us.  A simple act of love can change a boulder of a heart into a softer one; soft enough to be molded into something new by our artistic Creator.  Your heart is the softest place on earth, so take care of it.  Stay soft, it looks beautiful on you!
 
And by the way, the opening quote was said by Martin Luther.
 

“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. 

– Jesus 

 

That could very well be the sweetest verse in all of scripture.

Confession and Absolution of Sins for the Epiphanies


Confession And Absolution of Sins for the Epiphanies of Our Lord

by Michael Zarling
Guitar chords to “Songs of Thankfulness and Praise” by Steve Brown

In studying the history of the Epiphany Festival, one can see that the Western Church, when it does focus on the Epiphany, focuses mainly on the visit of the Magi. However, the ancient Festival of the Epiphany and its celebration in the Eastern Church focuses more on the Epiphany of the Lord with the visit of the Magi, Christ’s baptism and his first miracle at Cana.

The following text is an opening liturgy that addresses all three epiphany lessons (the Magi, the Baptism of our Lord, and the wedding at Cana) and uses two well known Epiphany hymns from the Christian Worship Lutheran Hymnal:

CW 91 – “The Star Proclaims the King is Here” by Coelius Sedulous
CW 82 – “Songs of Thankfulness and Praise” by Christopher Wordsworth

Sing: The star proclaims the King is here; But, Herod, why this senseless fear?
For he who came from heaven’s throne Does not desire an earthly crown. (CW: 91 v1)
Minister: In the name of God the Father,
Congregation: who placed a star in the sky to announce His Son’s birth.
M: In the name of God the Son,
C: who received a sinner’s baptism and revealed himself in his miracle at Cana.
M In the name of God the Holy Spirit,
C: who has brought us to believe in the great epiphanies of our Lord. Amen.
M: Lord Jesus Christ, born of the Virgin Mary, praised by the angels, adored by the shepherds and worshiped by the Magi,
C: have mercy on me, a sinner.
Sing: The wiser Magi saw from far And followed on his guiding star,
And, led by light, to Light they pressed And by their gifts their God confessed. (CW: 91 v2)
M: Lord Jesus Christ, held by St. Simeon, praised by St. Anna, and baptized by St. John,
C: have mercy on me, a sinner.
Sing: Within the Jordan River stood The pure and holy Lamb of God;
The Father’s voice, the Spirit-dove, Confirmed the Savior from above. (CW: 91 v3)
M: Lord Jesus Christ, changing water into wine, defeating the devil in the wilderness, driving out demons, cleansing the lepers, giving sight to the blind, granting hearing to the deaf, and bringing life from the dead,
C: have mercy on me, a sinner.
Sing: At Cana — miracle divine — When water reddened into wine,
The faithful saw his glory shown And put their trust in him alone. (CW: 91 v4)
M: In his great mercy, God called us out of the nations to his salvation, cleansed us in the waters of his baptism and revealed the power of his Son in Christ’s miracles. It is with this power and mercy, I, a called and ordained servant of Christ announce to all of you: I forgive you all your sins in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. (Sign of the cross)
C: Amen.
M: Praise be to our Triune God for the epiphanies of our Savior.
Sing: All glory unto Jesus be And praise for his epiphany,
Whom with the Father we adore And Holy Spirit evermore. (CW: 91 v5)
Hymn of the Day: #82 – “Songs of Thankfulness and Praise”
This hymn also mentions the epiphanies of our Lord – manifested by the star, manifested at Jordan’s stream, and manifested at Cana.

Here are the guitar chords to CW82:

F C (F) Dm (C) F
Songs of thank-ful-ness and praise, 
F C F Dm A
Je – sus, Lord, to you we raise,
Dm Gm C F (G7) C (F6) C (G) C
Man-i-fest-ed by the star to the Ma – gi from a – far,
G (Em) F/A F
Branch of royal David’s stem,
(Am) Bb (Cm) Bb
In your birth at Beth – le – hem,
D Gm C F
Anthems be to you ad-dressed,
Bb F (Dm) F C7 F
God in man made man – i – fest.

Note – Chords shown in parenthesis are optional.

A Better Savior


Lenten & Holy Week Resources from the book of HebrewsA Better Savior

By: Michael Zarling
with a few Contemporary song choices by Steve Brown (marked in red)

Throughout the book of Hebrews, the author uses the word “better” as he portrays Christianity as the one true religion, and Jesus Christ as the one true Savior from sin (Heb 6:9; 7:19; 7:22; 8:6; 9:23; 10:34; 11:4; 11:16; 11:35; 11:40; 12:24). The author uses similar comparative words like “greater” (Heb 3:3; 6:13; 6:16; 7:7; 9:11; 11:26) and “superior” (Heb 1:4; 8:6) to demonstrate the supremacy of Christ to anything in the Old Testament.

The book of Hebrews is full of allusions to the Old Testament which will allow the preacher to explain some of the factors that were important to Old Testament believers, but may be relatively unknown to our people today (i.e., the tabernacle, the covenant, the sacrificial work of the priests, the work of mediating done by Moses and the priests, etc.). Preachers have the opportunity to take their people back in time so that they might learn to deeply appreciate the Old Testament. Then preachers can lead their people to reflect on the great changes Jesus brought about when He fulfilled the Old Testament laws and the promises of the old covenant.

The theme of A Better Savior allows the preacher to make a comparison each week to something special from the Old Testament that was a picture of forgiveness for God’s people. But God did not work forgiveness through these means, because it was impossible for animal blood or the observance of rules and regulations to remove the stain of sin from people (Heb 10:4). Rather, everything in the Old Testament pointed ahead to Christ whose perfect sacrifice would remove all sin. That’s because He is the better covenant, the better sacrifice, the better mediator, etc.

With this Lenten theme, it would be easy to overlap ideas in order to bring other pictures from Hebrews into the sermon. However, each sermon theme almost demands that the preacher stay focused on that specific theme and carry it throughout the sermon.

Each service resource contains a sermon theme, text, suggested Psalm, Psalm prayer, and suggested hymns (from “Christian Worship – A Lutheran Hymnal” and the “Christian Worship Supplement.”).

Sermon Themes

Hebrews 3:3               A better leader

Hebrews 5:5-10          A better high priest

Hebrews 7:27             A better sacrifice

Hebrews 8:6               A better covenant

Hebrews 9:11             A better tabernacle

Hebrews 12:24           A better mediator

Hebrews 12:1-3          A better focus                         Palm Sunday

Hebrews 10:15-25      A better covenant                   Maundy Thursday

Hebrews 4:14-16        A better sympathizer              Good Friday

Hebrews 11:32-40      A better resurrection             Easter

Service Resources

Hebrews 3:3               A better leader

Sermon thoughts: The preacher may want to change the theme to “Better than Moses.” The writer to the Hebrews steadily makes the argument through his epistle that Jesus is superior to anyone and anything. He turns his attention to the Israelites’ leader, Moses. It would have been difficult for a Jew to think of anyone greater than Moses, their great leader who led their nation out of slavery in Egypt, who led the Israelites through 40 years of desert wandering, and who brought their nation to the edge of the Promised Land. Jesus’ superiority to Moses was not a matter of faithfulness, but position. Moses was only part of and servant to the house of Israel. Christ (the first time the author uses that title is in chapter 3) is greater because He is the “Son over God’s house.” He owns the house and rules over it – not in the distant past, but in the present reality and into the eternal future.

Supplement Psalm: 143

Contemporary Song: “Marvelous Light” by Charlie Hall

Psalm Prayer for 143:

Lord Jesus, you bring light to those who dwell in darkness and make your love known to them. Enter not into judgment with your servants, but strengthen us in the saving faith and guide us into the land of perfect peace where with the Father and the Holy Spirit you live and reign, one God, now and forever.

Supplement Psalm: 69

Psalm Prayer for 69:

O most merciful Lord, hear us in the truth of your salvation, that, delivered from the filth of sin, we may be written in the Book of Life by your heavenly finger; through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.

Lesson: The Passion History according to Luke

Sermon Text: Hebrews 3:1-6

Hymns:

121: “Jesus, Grant that Balm and Healing”
123: “Lord Jesus Christ, You Set Us Free”

Contemporary Song: “How Great is Our God” by Chris Tomlin

Sermon Hymn:

126: “Lord Jesus, You Are Going Forth”

Service Resources

Hebrews 5:5-10          A better high priest

Sermon thoughts: Though the phrase “a better high priest” is not specifically mentioned in Hebrews, throughout the book, the writer makes the comparison between Jesus and the high priest. He specifically makes a comparison between the mysterious Melchizedek and Jesus Christ. The preacher may even want to focus on that comparison with the theme of “Better than Melchizedek.” In Hebrews 5:6, the writer references Psalm 2. Jesus is a high priest who is far greater than Melchizedek or Aaron or any other high priest, for He was appointed forever. He combines both a king’s power and the priest’s sacrifice, just as Melchizedek did in the days of Abraham.

Psalm: 2

Psalm Prayer for Psalm 2:

Lord God, you anointed your Son to be king for the sake of your Church. Help us, as members of his kingdom, to serve him faithfully and to come to the full knowledge of his grace and glory, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Lesson: The Passion History according to Luke

Sermon Text: Hebrews 5:5-10 or 5:1-10

Hymns:

121: “Jesus, Grant that Balm and Healing”
713: “In Silent Pain the Eternal Son”

Contemporary Song: “The Greatness of Our God” by Jason Ingram, Reuben Morgan and Stu Garrard

Sermon Hymn:

126: “Lord Jesus, You Are Going Forth”

Service Resources

Hebrews 7:27                         A better sacrifice

Sermon thoughts: How inadequate the sacrificial system of the Old Testament was. No matter how much animals’ blood was spilt, it could not erase the sinner’s guilt. Only one perfect sacrifice could do that – the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, the perfect Lamb of God. This sacrifice was made once and for all. Christ was both the priest and the sacrifice. Here the preacher will want to focus on the sacrifice, since another preacher will focus on the priestly aspect of Christ. 

Psalm: 22

Supplement Psalm: 22

Psalm Prayer for Psalm 22:

Father, when your Son hung on the cross, he cried out to you in agony and grief. You gave him the strength to endure so that death might be destroyed and life restored. Have mercy on us all our days and preserve us in true faith unto life everlasting; through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Lesson: The Passion History according to Luke

Sermon Text: Hebrews 7:27; 10:1-10

Hymns:

100: “A Lamb Goes Uncomplaining Forth”
101: “Behold the Lamb of God”
714: “The Lamb”

Contemporary Song: “Beautiful Sacrifice” by Tammi Rhoton and Elizabeth Foster”

Sermon Hymn:

128: “Not All the Blood of Beasts”

Service Resources

Hebrews 8:6               A better covenant

Sermon thoughts: The preacher may also reference Hebrews 7:22. The old covenant was replaced, not because it was imperfect or flawed, but because it was inadequate and incomplete. God’s covenant through Moses was a two-sided covenant. God told the Israelites that if they obeyed Him, then certain blessings would follow. But the covenant did not give the people the power to keep God’s Laws. Jesus Christ came to fulfill and complete the old covenant when He pronounced from the cross, “It is finished!” Jesus then replaced the old, conditional covenant with a new, unconditional covenant.

Psalm: 118

Psalm Prayer for Psalm 118:

Lord Jesus, when you rose victorious from death, you gave us a day of great rejoicing. The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone of our faith. Let cries of joy and exultation ring out to celebrate the good news of your resurrection, for you live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Contemporary Song: “In Christ Alone” by Stuart Townend and Keith Getty

Lesson: The Passion History according to Luke

Sermon Text: Hebrews 8:6-13

Hymns:

98: “Jesus, I Will Ponder Now”
99: “Oh, Come, My Soul”

Sermon Hymn:

106: “Come to Calvary’s Holy Mountain”

Service Resources

Hebrews 9:11             A better tabernacle

Sermon thoughts: The preacher can demonstrate the sharp contrast between the superiority of the tabernacle in which Christ serves as high priest and the “man-made” tabernacle used by the Jews. Though the tabernacle was an inanimate object, God still considered it tainted by sin. Therefore the high priest had to sprinkle blood both on the tabernacle and everything used in its ceremonies. Plus, the high priest had to enter the tabernacle every year. Christ came from a more superior tabernacle from heaven. Plus, he offered one sacrifice of His blood to purify everything.

Psalm: 84

Psalm Prayer for Psalm 84:

Almighty God, grant that during our earthly pilgrimage we may so treasure your Word and sacraments that being nourished in faith we may one day dwell in the courts of heaven to praise you forever; through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Contemporary Song: “Better is One Day” by Matt and Beth Redman

Supplement Psalm: 122

Psalm Prayer for Psalm 122:

Almighty God, bestow your peace on those who walk in the courts of your house, and pour out your blessing upon those who dwell in the house of the Lord; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Lesson: The Passion History according to Luke

Sermon Text: Hebrews 9:11-12, 21-28

Hymns:

112: “There is a Fountain Filled with Blood”
715: “What Grace is This”

Contemporary Song: “The Wonder of the Cross” by Vicky Beeching

Sermon Hymn:

114: “Christ, the Life of All the Living”

 Service Resources

Hebrews 12:24                       A better mediator

Sermon thoughts: The themes of covenant, priest, Moses and sacrifice are already covered by other preachers. The focus of this comparison is that Jesus is a better mediator. As the mediator, Christ was the go-between of two parties – the holy and righteous God and sinful mankind. Moses and the priests often acted as mediators between God and man. They would take the blood of the animals to bind the people to the regulations of the covenant. As mediators, Moses and the priests would ask God to soften His anger. They would also give God’s people the Lord’s message. Jesus is the perfect mediator of Hebrews 8:6, 9:15-22 and 12:24. He is the arbiter between us and God with His perfect sacrifice on the cross. He continues to intercede for us in heaven. He was once and always will be our advocate.

Psalm: 130

Psalm Prayer for Psalm 130

God of might and compassion, open your ears to the prayers of your people, who wait for you. Do not leave us in the depths of our sins, but listen to your Church pleading for the fullness of your redemption; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Contemporary Song: “Psalm 130” by Luke Dowler

Supplement Psalm: 116

Psalm Prayer for Psalm 116

God of mercy and might, through the resurrection of your Son you have freed us from the anguish of guilt and the bonds of death. Be with us on our pilgrimage and help us glorify you in the presence of all your people; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Lesson: The Passion History according to Luke

Sermon Text: Hebrews 12:24; 9:15-22

Hymns:

115: “He Stood before the Court”
118: “O Dearest Lord, Thy Sacred Head”
129: “Alas! And Did My Savior Bleed”

Contemporary Song: “Jesus Messiah” by Chris Tomlin

Sermon Hymn:

116: “In the Hour of Trial”

 

Holy Week Resources for 2013

Palm Sunday – Hebrews 12:1-3 – A better focus

The Christian life is an endurance race. We run with continued preparation and proper focus. The saints who have gone before us and have already finished their race are an encouragement to us. But most of all, we look to Jesus and His cross. He is the author and perfecter of our faith. In Him, our race is already won. This lesson also helps us keep our focus as we anticipate the celebration of the Three Holy Days (the Triduum).

Contemporary Song: “O Church Arise” by Keith Getty and Stuart Townend

 

Maundy Thursday – Hebrews 10:15-25 – A better access

Under the old covenant, sinners dared not come through the curtain to enter into God’s presence in the Most Holy Place in the tabernacle. But Jesus has torn that curtain in two, thus giving us sinners access to God’s holy presence. This access comes not by blood sprinkled on a door – like the blood of the Passover lamb sprinkled on the doorframes – but by Christ, the perfect Passover Lamb, sprinkling His blood on our hearts and sprinkling His baptismal waters on our bodies. All the barriers have been removed so that we may approach the God of the Covenant in the full confidence of forgiveness.

Contemporary Song: “The Power of the Cross” by Keith Getty and Stuart Townend

 

Good Friday – Hebrews 4:14-16 – A better sympathizer

The theme of the better high priest has already been proclaimed in the Lenten series from Hebrews 5:1-10. These three verses of Hebrews 4:14-16 give the preacher the opportunity to preach how Jesus Christ is not only true God, but also true man. Jesus knows what we face on a daily basis because He was repeatedly tempted, yet He remained without sin. From experience He knows what we are going through and we receive comfort from the fact that He is able to sympathize with us in our weakness. We also find our confidence in Him because He is not only able to sympathize with us, but He is also able to help us in every need.

Contemporary Song: “The Compassion Hymn” by Keith Getty, Kristyn Getty and Stuart Townend
– and  –
“Better than a Hallelujah” by Chapin Hartford and Sarah Hart (made popular by Amy Grant)

 

Easter – Hebrews 11:32-40 – A better resurrection

Women like the widow of Zarephath, the Shunamite woman and the widow of Nain, all received their children back from the dead. Lazarus, Eutychus and the daughter of Jairus all came back to life, but they were all subject to death. Christ promises a better resurrection. The list of martyrs in Hebrews 11 prized the resurrection to come as far greater in value than their earthly lives.

Contemporary Song: “By Faith” by Keith Getty, Kristyn Getty and Stuart Townend

I would like to thank Pastor Zarling for sharing his work. He truly has a generous servant’s heart.

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A Confession of Sins for the Season of Epiphany


A CONFESSION OF SINS – “DARKNESS AND LIGHT”

by Pastor Michael Zarling and Steve Brown

PROCESSIONAL HYMN: #79 — “How Lovely Shines the Morning Star”
As the hymn is introduced, please stand and face the processional cross in the back of the church, and turn to the front as the cross passes you.  Alternatively, simply “stand” as the hymn is introduced.

Sing: How lovely shines the Morning Star! The nations see and hail afar
The light in Judah shining.
O David’s Son of Jacob’s race, My Bridegroom and my King of grace,
For you my heart is pining.
Lowly, Holy, Great and glorious, O victorious Prince of graces,
Filling all the heav’nly places.

O highest joy by mortals won, True Son of God and Mary’s Son,
The highborn King of ages!
In your blest body let me be, E’en as the branch is in the tree,
Your life my life supplying.
Sighing, Crying For the savor Of your favor
Resting never Till I rest in you forever.

Note: The singing stops here.  The music continues in the background as we begin to alternate between responsive readings and singing of the remaining hymn verses.

Minister: Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits before his throne, and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.
Congregation: To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father– to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen. (Rev 1:4-6)

M: The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; (Is 9:2)
C: on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.

M: See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples,
C: but the Lord rises upon you and his glory appears over you. (Is 60:2)

M: The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not understood it.
C: We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (Jn 1:5,14)

Sing: O mighty Father, in your Son You loved me ere you had begun
This ancient world’s foundation.
Your Son has made a friend of me, And when in spirit him I see,
I joy in tribulation.
What bliss Is this! He is living, To me giving
Life forever; Nothing me from him can sever.

M: For to us a child is born, to us a Son is given. (Is 9:6)
C: In him was life, and the life was the light of man. (Jn 1:4)

M: God of Glory, you sent Jesus among us as the light to the world, to reveal your love for all people. But wherever there is light, there will also be darkness.
C: We confess that we are sinful creatures who, either through foolishness or willful disobedience, often choose to dwell in the darkness instead of live in your light. We beg for forgiveness for starving ourselves of your Son’s life-giving light. We repent of our entrenched evil that hates the light and tries to dispose of it. We admit our apathy towards sanctification and renewal that cause us to continue to live in the night. Trusting your grace, we earnestly pray: “Create in us a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within us.” Through Christ Jesus our Savior. Amen. (Ps 51:10)

Sing: Oh, joy to know that you, my Friend, Are Lord, beginning without end,
The first and last, eternal!
And you at length — O glorious grace — Will take me to that holy place,
The home of joys supernal.
Amen, Amen! Come and meet me, Quickly greet me! With deep yearning,
Lord, I look for your returning.

M: Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD rises upon you. (Is 60:1) The Light comes not to sear and blind us but to save us. Christ Jesus came into this world as an infant in a Bethlehem manger so that he might die as our Savior on a Roman cross in Jerusalem. For his sake, God forgives us all our sins. Therefore, as a called and ordained servant of Christ, and by his authority, I forgive you all your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
C: Amen.

M: If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another,
C: and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. (1 Jn 1:7)

M: You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. (1 Pet 2:9)

Sing: Lift up the voice and strike the string, Let all glad sounds of music ring
In God’s high praises blended.
Christ will be with me all the way, Today, tomorrow, ev’ry day
Till trav’ling days are ended.
Sing out, Ring out Triumph glorious, O victorious Chosen nation;
Praise the God of your salvation.


— 
An Alternate Version Using a Contemporary Song —

A CONFESSION OF SINS – “DARKNESS AND LIGHT”

PROCESSIONAL HYMN: CWS 771 — “I Want to Walk as a Child of Light”
As the hymn is introduced, please stand and face the processional cross in the back of the church, and turn to the front as the cross passes you.

Sing: I want to walk as a child of light.
I want to follow Jesus
God set the stars to give light to the world.
The star of my life is Jesus.
In him there is no darkness at all.
The night and the day are both a-like.
The Lamb is the light of the city of God.
Shine in my heart, Lord Jesus.

Note: The singing stops here.  The music continues in the background as we begin to alternate between responsive readings and singing of the remaining hymn verses.

Minister: Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits before his throne, and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.
Congregation: To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father– to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen. (Rev 1:4-6)

M: The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; (Is 9:2)
C: on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.

M: See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples,
C: but the Lord rises upon you and his glory appears over you. (Is 60:2)

M: The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not understood it.
C: We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (Jn 1:5,14)

Sing: I want to see the brightness of God.
I want to look at Jesus.
Clear sun of righteousness shine on my path,
And show me the way to the Father.
In him there is no darkness at all.
The night and the day are both a-like.
The Lamb is the light of the city of God.
Shine in my heart, Lord Jesus.

M: For to us a child is born, to us a Son is given. (Is 9:6)
C: In him was life, and the life was the light of man. (Jn 1:4)

M: God of Glory, you sent Jesus among us as the light to the world, to reveal your love for all people. But wherever there is light, there will also be darkness.
C: We confess that we are sinful creatures who, either through foolishness or willful disobedience, often choose to dwell in the darkness instead of live in your light. We beg for forgiveness for starving ourselves of your Son’s life-giving light. We repent of our entrenched evil that hates the light and tries to dispose of it. We admit our apathy towards sanctification and renewal that cause us to continue to live in the night. Trusting your grace, we earnestly pray: “Create in us a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within us.” Through Christ Jesus our Savior. Amen. (Ps 51:10)

Sing: I’m looking for the coming of Christ.
I want to be with Jesus.
When we have run with patience the race,
We shall know the patience of Jesus.
In him there is no darkness at all.
The night and the day are both a-like.
The Lamb is the light of the city of God.
Shine in my heart, Lord Jesus.

M: Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD rises upon you. (Is 60:1) The Light comes not to sear and blind us but to save us. Christ Jesus came into this world as an infant in a Bethlehem manger so that he might die as our Savior on a Roman cross in Jerusalem. For his sake, God forgives us all our sins. Therefore, as a called and ordained servant of Christ, and by his authority, I forgive you all your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
C: Amen.

M: If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another,
C: and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. (1 Jn 1:7)

M: You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. (1 Pet 2:9)

Sing: I’m looking for the coming of Christ.
I want to be with Jesus.
When we have run with patience the race,
We shall know the patience of Jesus.
In him there is no darkness at all.
The night and the day are both a-like.
The Lamb is the light of the city of God.
Shine in my heart, Lord Jesus.

Prayer


Prayer

Boston Marathon Memorial
Boston Marathon Memorial

When Mother Teresa died at the age of eighty-seven, she reportedly left behind an estate that consisted of a prayer book and three saris.  That’s it!  Eighty seven years of accumulating!

We pray for silver, but God gives us gold instead – Martin Luther

This may be the only writing you have seen with Martin Luther and Mother Theresa in back to back statements!

Prayer invites God into your world
Prayer is the language of the soul
Prayer is transformative
Prayer is part of your decision making process
Prayer is part of your life
Prayer is a response to God’s promises
Prayer releases God’s power.
Prayer is timeless

Our privilege is not that He will hear us, rather that we will hear Him
Don’t give God instructions, just report for duty!
But God is interested in what you have to say
God understands plain English, and any other language we may speak
He wants to hear us speak from our heart’s, with the use of our own words
He is interested in the tiniest details of your life
He will not interrupt you
He remembers every single one of your prayers
The Lord of History has your undivided attention
The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit all invite you to walk and to talk with them every day

When you pray, God is making a house call
He will keep your talk confidential
Praying, spiritually joins you to a great cloud of witnesses
Your faith will be strengthened through prayer
The responses that you receive are as real as your prayers
Through your consistent prayer, Christ is building a faith in you that you were not expecting
You can never pray too much!

Boston Strong
I recently discovered what gives the people of Boston their strength. It is not in their history, their sports teams, their harbor, their economy, their social status, their water, their myriad of colleges, or their government. The answer lies in the grass roots memorial that marks the event of the Boston marathon bombing that serves as a remembrance, as a place to reflect, as a place to mourn, and as a place to heal.

In the photo above, each ribbon tied to this fence contains a prayer. Tiny heart-felt prayers. Unique prayers written by a passer-byes. Unique prayers drenched in tears from a loved one. Anonymous prayers written by someone who has no ties to the incident; no ties except compassion for those involved. And prayers written by children. Please understand fully that the term “Boston Strong” has its roots in prayer. And for this reason, this memorial is the ultimate memorial. This memorial offers hope. It offers peace. It offers strength. It offers perseverance. It offers answers. It offers a promise and the people of Boston know it.

Someday there will no doubt be a beautiful statue or fountain to mark this spot. It will be a part of Boston’s famed history just like the Tea Party, Paul Revere’s ride, John Hancock’s tombstone, or the Boston Massacre. It will become a stop on the tourist’s trolley line. But for now, the prayers of the people are lovingly and quietly heard at this spot. And the God who so blesses this country has heard these prayers and it is He who will ultimately bring peace and justice.

This memorial is a testament to Boston’s faith, to their strength, to their resolve, to their priorities, and to their great God. Prayer is powerful. And Boston is strong because they derive their strength through an unshakable connection to the Almighty. It is through prayer that the weak become strong. You also can tap into this strength. You can tap into it while visiting this memorial, in your own local church, in your own home, even in your vehicle. You can tap into it wherever you are. That’s the power. God’s the source. He is omnipresent, omniscient and omnipotent. And best of all He is approachable, relational, and loving. He is “Dad.” He is Abba. He is Father.

We stand strongest and tallest on our knees. – Charles Stanley

 

 

Friends


Friends

A friend loves at all times – Proverbs 17:17a

Circles
God gave friends to each one of us.  Like family, like sunshine, like warmth, like majestic trees and like chocolate, they are an awesome gift from the Creator.  Friends are to be cherished.  We all have circles of friends.  Small circles of close friends, circles of church friends, circles of work friends, and monstrous circles of Facebook friends.  These circles overlap and chain together like Olympic Rings.

The Closest Kind
My closest friends tend to come from within the church, actually within my local church or denomination, because we are aligned on a deeply spiritual level. We are in effect brothers and sisters in faith.  We are a tight, loving group.  We are all branches from the same root.  A root that feeds, nourishes, sustains and anchors us.  “The root of Jesse.”  This root is Jesus, and He is also my friend.  Actually a very close friend because His love for me is deeply and unconditionally sacrificial.  Jesus changed our relationship with God forever.

Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. – John 15:13

“I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.” – John 15:15

A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. – Proverbs 18:24

Each Other and One Another
As the saying goes, “Friends don’t let friends drive drunk.”  Good advice.  But there’s more.

Friends pray for each other.
Friends confide in one another.
Friends empathize with each other.
Friends help one another.
Friends do not gossip about each other. (Gossip separates the best of friends – Proverbs 16:28b)
Friends are sincere and loyal to one another.
Friends trust each other. (An honest answer is the sign of true friendship – Proverbs 24:26)
Friends enjoy time with one another.
Friends accept each other’s weaknesses and imperfections.
Friends are good medicine.
Friends enrich our lives.
Friends celebrate good times and support in difficult times.
Friends prevent loneliness.
Friends are quick to ask for forgiveness and ready to be forgiving.

Chosen by the Master
I just love this quote by C.S. Lewis on friendship:

“In friendship…we think we have chosen our peers. In reality a few years’ difference in the dates of our births, a few more miles between certain houses, the choice of one university instead of another…the accident of a topic being raised or not raised at a first meeting–any of these chances might have kept us apart. But, for a Christian, there are, strictly speaking no chances. A secret master of ceremonies has been at work. Christ, who said to the disciples, “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you,” can truly say to every group of Christian friends, “Ye have not chosen one another but I have chosen you for one another.” The friendship is not a reward for our discriminating and good taste in finding one another out. It is the instrument by which God reveals to each of us the beauties of others.” ― C.S. Lewis, the Four Loves

“The aim of friendship is exclusively determined by what God’s will is for the other person.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Tribute to Friendship
I love you not only for what you are,
But for what I am when I am with you;
I love you not only for what you have made of yourself,
But for what you are making of me,
I love you not for closing your ears to the discords in me,
But for adding to the music in me by worshipful listening;
You have done it without a touch, without a word, without a sign.
You have done it just by being yourself.

Perhaps that is what being a friend means, after all!
—Author Unknown

Introduced by God!
Sometimes in life we run across friends that we know the Holy Spirit has so delicately and deliberately placed onto our path and into our lives. Friends who have been filled with, and touched by the Holy Spirit. The God of the universe introduces us to one another because He knows that we will be a blessing to each other.

Thank you Lord for the gift of friendship.

Open the Eyes of My Heart Lord


Open the Eyes of My Heart Lord

Lord, Open…
my eyes to see
my ears to hear
my heart to feel
my mind to absorb
what you are doing today.
Amen.

“It is safe to tell the pure in heart that they shall see God, for only the pure in heart want to.”
– C. S. Lewis

“It is a terrible thing to see and have no vision.” – Helen Keller